July 4, 2012 in Volunteering in Guatemala
The Atitlan Organics Apprenticeship Program offers dedicated and highly-motivated individuals the opportunity to spend at least one month working on a small-scale, permaculture-inspired, direct-market farm in a developing country. The farm is located in the small town of Tzununá, on the banks of the breathtakingly beautiful Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. We seek to attract applicants yearning to make a comfortable and sustainable living on a small piece of land.
We see the value of the Apprenticeship Program as lying in three
distinct areas of work:
Permaculture Design: As we are a permaculture-inspired farmstead, apprentices will learn many of the design principles and philosophies behind permaculture and sustainable farming. Many informal workshops will be taught by Shad Qudsi, who is certified in permaculture design, and has over 13 years farming and gardening experience. Apprentices will be immersed in a functioning permaculture farm in its early-to-mid stages of development, which provides many opportunities for learning and experimenting with various design principals.
Direct-to-Consumer, Profitable Farming: Apprentices will experience what it takes to run a profitable organic farm. The founders of Atitlan Organics feel that traditional permaculture training does not adequately address the economics and profitability related to farming on a small, diversified landscape. We understand the need to earn a comfortable living and we are working to develop a model that others can follow.
Community Development: Shad Qudsi, Co-Founder of Atitlan Organics, was recently hired as the Agricultural Specialist to install community gardens at each of four nutrition centers in the Tzununa valley. Apprentices will be fully integrated into this project, which includes the design and installment of grey water circles, Eco-bathrooms, community nurseries, and other exciting things, all alongside indigenous women, sharing knowledge and insights across cultures.
The living accommodations for the apprentices are modest. There are three rooms, each having two single beds or one matrimonial bed.We plan to have at most five apprentices at any given time, plus one apprentice coordinator, all living in the same area.
We provide greens, herbs, seasonal fruits, and other produce off of the farm, as well as farm grown coffee and homemade ginger beer to all apprentices. Aside from farm products, the apprentices are responsible for tdoing their own food shopping and preparing their own meals.
The cost of attendance is $150 per month if you stay for one month. The price is $125 per month if you stay for two months or more, and you pay up front. This money goes directly to paying the rent to a local family who owns the apprentice housing, as well as for the general kitchen and housing supplies we provide. Leftover money is put back into the farm, usually to purchase materials for new and experimental projects.
We feel proud to welcome young and aspiring farmers to our community. We are building a model for a farm that is both for-profit and market oriented, but also one that works with the community to improve the health of the people, the soil, and the local environment. It is our hope that this program can inspire the best and hardest-working, up-n-comers to create their own local and appropriate solutions that will nourish communities around the world.