- 2 weeks of Individual Spanish classes, 6 hours per day.
- 4 weeks working as a volunteer on an ecological farm with full immersion in the Manabí farming community doing reforestation, nursery work, sowing seeds, picking fruit, creation and maintenance of vegetable gardens, compost making and working in the environmental school giving classes (optional).
- This is a great opportunity to experience life with a rural Ecuadorian family and learn ecological farming practices.
Tauro is a Coastal Organic Farm (3 hours by bus from Manta) which is dedicated to ethical tourism, and at the same time environmental work. It is owned and run by an Ecuadorian and a New Zealander. The activities of the program are under the umbrella of the Stuarium Foundation. The program provides authentic ecotours partly as a way of supporting the many environmental projects it has created. These include the Environmental primary school and Tauro organic Farm in Rio Muchacho, a paper recycling project in Bahía de Caráquez and a scheme to conserve areas of mangroves within the estuary of Bahia.
Rio Muchacho is a valley on the mid coast of Ecuador. The entrance is situated 30 kms north of Bahía de Caráquez on the San Vicente Pedernales road. Tauro farm is 8 kms inland from this road (two hours walking, one and a half by horse). The area once was dense and has been largely cleared for cattle farming and cropping. Some nice areas remain however, with food forest and wildlife.
The farming practices are conventional using clearing, burning, and monocropping with the use of chemicals. Tauro farm was no exception until 15 years ago when Dario bought the property and began converting it to a non polluting system. It is now not only being developed as a productive organic farm but is a model for the community. It demonstrates reforestation, permaculture and organic farming techniques. Tourism is another aspect of the farm, nationals and foreigners are fascinated by the cultural experience and the alternative farming techniques.
Five years ago there was a crisis situation with the education of the children of the valley, and so with community participation we created a primary school. The aim of the school was to provide not only a better education than in most rural schools but to teach environmental education. The school was built with natural materials donated by each of the parents. It has been running successfully for 5 years supported partly by the parents and partly by the agency with help from tourists, friends and family.
Gonzalo and Margarita are a couple who have been involved in the school and in the workshops since we began. They, with their family of three boys and a girl now live on Tauro farm. Volunteers will be guided and cared for by them.
Volunteers at Tauro participate in the general activities of the farm and are expected to work an 8 hour day. Some of the activities will include:
- Nursery work, sowing seeds and filling bags.
- Reforestation work, planting, weeding, mulching, staking and pruning.
- Creation and maintenance of vegetable gardens.
- Compost making.
- Planting and harvesting crops.
- Work in the environmental school, giving classes (optional) and doing maintenance during the school year.
- Planting bamboo.
- Care of saddlery.
- Help in preparation of food (if you are interested you can learn about local cuisine)
Two days free are given per week which can be taken in block or as desired (8 days total a month). We provide access by horse once a week. This day must coincide with the day that Gonzalo leaves for supplies.
Accommodation is provided in one of the sleeping areas. We supply sheets, blankets and towels. Food is prepared for you and is largely vegetarian, occasionally chicken and river shrimp. The food is typical (very tasty) and usually cooked over a wood fire. The local diet is heavy on rice, green banana and cassava (yucca); you can arrange any personal preferences with Margarita.
This is an isolated rural area where electric power and TV have only been installed for several months. The people have lived a simple but rich life without access to or knowledge of the conveniences of the 20 th century. Be sensitive to them and their customs. We insist that no drugs or alcohol are consumed in Tauro Farm except in the case of the typical drinks which you may be offered by the family.
What to take?
- Insect repellent (there are no mosquitoes but some small biting flies).
- Light weight old clothes.
- Flash light and batteries.
- Binoculars, if you are interested in birds.
- Rubber boots - in the rainy season (check first)
- Sun screen.
- Wide rimed sun hat.
- Rain poncho (only in the rainy season).
- Sturdy shoes for working in
- Good books, letter writing paper
In you would like to take something for the children of the family we suggest that it be educational. Any contributions of materials etc. for the school are also very welcome.
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