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FREE VOLUNTEERING opportunities in Costa Rica  RSS feed

 
Tomi Astikainen
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Interested in being part of an organic (non-vegan) start-up?

A FREE VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITY on a beautiful start-up farm in Ocotal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Most organic farms today get their money by charging their volunteers exuberant amounts for the experience of working on an organic farm. While we do acknowledge the value of learning by doing and we do understand that it’s not free to feed and accommodate people, we also value the efforts of our volunteers and aim to be a fair farm. Therefore, we are trying to find a way to run the farm self-sufficiently and offer the volunteering experience without a cost. We only ask you to take care of your own food (or to participate in sharing the cost of food). What little occasional food there is, is shared, but there's not enough to go around yet.

WHAT'S THE FARM ALL ABOUT?
You are welcomed to pitch ideas for fundraising, products and services that could generate income in the near future. The products will most likely include organic meat and milk products as well as dried herbs, medicinal tea and mushrooms and a range of pickled delicacies. The services, in turn, could include animals (horseback riding, pet kennel), hospitality services and educational activities. Additionally we've thrown enticing ideas for non-profit activities that could be of assistance to the local somewhat poor community as well as to the wild animals around. These could be backed by crowdfunding, NGOs, companies and maybe even government organizations. Right now, however, it's just the basics in place: a few garden beds, some fruit tree seedlings and a rudimentary aquaponics system growing both greens and tilapia fish. In addition there are some egg chickens, meat chickens, ducks, pigs and horses. The farm has been around for one and half years so all necessary tools are available.

WHO ARE WE?
Vicki is a former multi-million-dollar business-owner from the States who got financially screwed over in Costa Rica and is now learning to live off the land on her lovely farm. Currently she is totally broke and in desperate need of help at the farm. She just can't do it alone. However, she is surprisingly laid back about the whole situation and great fun to work with.

We happened to be passing by, offered to help and stayed... for a while. And who are "we" then? We are two travelers - Tomi (32) from Finland and Lea (22) from Croatia (our blog: http://nowgasm.wordpress.com). We have spent seven months hitchhiking without money in Latin America. Prior to this we've been on organic farms in Mexico, El Salvador and Nicaragua. We've had great experiences before but only Vicki's place feels like a real calling. For us this is not really volunteering but more of a passion: whatever we do, we do it because we like it - not because someone expects us to do so. We feel really committed to help Vicki and work at least 10-hour-days to get things properly going before we continue our travels south.

WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
As part of the start-up process we are looking for:
a) 1-3 highly committed and somewhat knowledgeable volunteers to take over what we've started. You would stay on the farm 1-12 months, depending on your life situation and how you match with the rest of the team. No working hours: self-managed work and leisure.
b) 1-5 short-term volunteers who would stay 1-4 weeks, contribute at least 30 hours a week and learn from the more experienced volunteers while doing so.
c) experts who can come for 1-3 days to solve special issues, to contribute their skills and knowledge (e.g. video shooting and editing) or to bring in material goods (e.g. seeds and cuttings of plants) just for the sake of helping out someone who needs help.

WHAT IS EXPECTED FROM YOU?
Basic knowledge of permaculture and organic gardening is a must. We can't hold your hand in every turn: the volunteers are expected to take initiative and manage themselves. But you don't have to be a garden guru. It's enough if you are able to use a machete, an axe and a shovel - as long as you have some idea how soil is prepared, how planting is done and what weeding is all about. On top of that if you have special skills or knowledge you are more than welcome to put them into practice. There are several projects ranging from forest garden design to advanced aquaponics, worm farms, rain water collection systems and solar dryers that need to be carried out. Also online marketing, web presence and video editing skills would be highly welcome.

WHAT CAN YOU EXPECT?
As said, the daily work flow is very fluid and self-organized: no one keeps track of the time that you use working. Only results matter. It's a big challenge but the autonomy, mastery and sense of purpose in the work are such rewards in and of themselves that anyone who wishes to live in the nature will be greatly satisfied. As of now Vicki cannot cover your food costs. However, everything else is provided: accommodation, tools, internet connection, shower etc. There are also equipment to go snorkeling (the beach is just half a mile away) and we are in the process of getting a bunch of bicycles. If you could participate in arranging and preparing the food, that would be lovely (Vicki says she doesn't like cooking although whatever she makes tastes delicious). There are animals on the farm and some of them are sometimes eaten. Therefore the place is most likely not suitable for vegans.

INTERESTED? MORE INFO?
We don't have a website yet, nor profile in WWOOFing, HelpX, Workaway, CouchSurfing or BeWelcome. I guess it's best if you drop me an email to tomi(at)mindyourelephant.org AND CC to vickiconley(at)mindspring.com

Looking forward to hear from you!

Much love,

Tomi, Lea and Vicki
 
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