Organic Gardener Leader Position

Leadership Specifics

The goal of the T.R.E.E.S Hosting Center is to be able to feed all guests/visitors with local food grown sustainably and organically. As an education center, T.R.E.E.S also desires to have these organic gardens set up as “demonstration gardens”, where people from the local community can come and learn about organic gardening that works. There is a strong sentiment in the surrounding community that organic doesn’t work, and in even the smallest gardens in the neighbouring hills they use copious amounts of the worst pesticides (pesticides that are banned in North America and are shipped to developing countries). If through this project locals can be convinced that organic does work and is a feasible long-term farming strategy, and are taught how to go about it properly, there will be a very positive effect on the local environment.

The required project leader should be willing to work on the T.R.E.E.S garden plots and organic fruit orchard using organic growing techniques and permaculture techniques. The position will involve training interns, visiting local organic farms and acquiring local expertise, and preparing schedules for T.R.E.E.S staff and interns to help out on needed tasks. As the center is wishing to go organic, the leader will also be responsible for seeking out local leaders in the organic community in Belize to find out what can and can’t be used to be organic. Thus this position will require the leader to go and chat with locals about agriculture in tropical Belize, including: best time to plant, best soil mixes and compost, and insect control via organic means. This may require inviting locals to the center to discuss their ideas and suggestions and use their local expertise. It will also require the leader to go visit local projects from time to time, as well as occasionally going to town to get supplies.

The leader will work with the already existing garden plots and create new garden plots. The leader will need to conduct some research to find out what vegetables can be grown at the center; after this initial ground work is completed, the leader will then start growing and maintaining the gardens. The leader has access to two shade-cloth covered greenhouses (one is 10*12 feet and the other is 12*30 feet) that are partly used. Together with these greenhouses and other open-air plots there is much space to create a variety of vegetable gardens and fruit orchards.

There is great opportunity for expansion and exploration through this position, including the possibility of building raised plants beds, creating a cold sprout room, and expansion on the 17 acres of organic lime orchard that is already mature. The orchard has much available space to add new fruit trees, and a few large plots that can be used for a variety of agricultural endeavours.

The center is also currently in the process of acquiring some farm animals. This will be started small, with 10-12 laying hens, 2-3 cows, and a few goats with the eventual intent of expanding the range and scope if the small projects are successful. Although T.R.E.E.S managers have some experience with this component and will take the lead on it, they would like assistance from the garden project leader as well in order to do this as efficiently as possible.

As this is a short term position and the project is in nature very long-term, the leader would only be expected to work on a component of the project which will overlap with the next leader. The leader will be expected to write a short report on trials and errors, methodology etc. that will be used to create a methodology manual for sustainable organic farming in Belize. In addition to creating a long-term organic sustainable food practice at the T.R.E.E.S Hosting Center and in the neighbouring community, it is also hoped that this project could ultimately aid in the creation of a National organic certification process.

This is an ideal opportunity for a would-be organic farmer who is hoping to start his/her own organic farm and would like the experience of giving it a try first with no strings attached! Or, an organic farmer from North America/Europe who has some free time in the off-season and is looking to further their farming knowledge would be equally ideally suited to this position!

Tasks

  • Work in the community with locals in gaining local knowledge about growing fruits and vegetables in the Tropics organically.
  • Prepare seedlings and purchase seeds and other necessary equipment.
  • Find organic farmers in Belize and discuss how organic farming can be done at the T.R.E.E.S Hosting Center.
  • Manage the T.R.E.E.S staff and interns that will be working in the gardens. Organize schedules.
  • Write-up a small report of findings and notes that can be used to create an organic guide to T.R.E.E.S Hosting Center gardens
  • Prune fruit T.R.E.E.S in orchard.
  • Work on some basic construction projects: Build some raised plant beds, shelving for inside greenhouse, irrigation system for greenhouses.
  • Build a series of compost bins with their own specific use.
  • Provide assistance to managers with farm animals: chickens, cows, goats, etc.
  • Create a short-report (5-10 pages) that will be used to create a methodology catalog for T.R.E.E.S and organic agriculture in the tropics.

Desired Qualifications

  • Previous experience working with organic vegetable gardens required.
  • Pruning experience.
  • Experience with organic gardening in the tropics an asset.
  • Knowledge of using diesel engine tractors an asset.
  • Knowledge of power tools and basic carpentry experience an asset.
  • Experience with starting seedlings.
  • Knowledge of raising farm animals an asset; chickens, cows and goats.
  • Enjoy working with a diverse community of people.
  • Spend long-hours in the field (difficult conditions).
  • Experience working with interns, preparing schedules, organizing tasks.
  • Experience using Microsoft Office Suite and other basic computer literacy skills.
  • Driver’s License required.
  • Flexible easy-going attitude.

Physical Requirements and Work Conditions

  • Ability to tolerate high temperature and high humidity
  • Ability to work in environments where exposure to spiky plants, toxic vines, scorpions, spiders, ticks, and biting flies is common. In addition, it is the jungle; venemous snakes are uncommon but present.
  • Ability to live in remote conditions away from electronic ammenities
  • Possible indoor work is performed in a typical office setting.
  • Ability to lift, carry, and position objects weighing up to 50 pounds.

Benefits

  • Gain experience leading organic agriculture project.
  • Hone your creative and ingenious ideas using a trial and error approach with no strings attached.
  • Gain experience about organic farming, gardening, and agriculture in the tropics.
  • Opportunity to attend personal/professional development days with local experts.
  • Opportunity to live in and enjoy the scenery, wildlife, and cultural resources of a beautiful country in Central America.
  • Opportunities to work with a dynamic team; T.R.E.E.S managers, interns, guides and locals from diverse backgrounds that share a common interest in preserving and protecting our natural lands and eating in a healthy sustainable manner.

Terms

  • Application deadline: Open until filled.
  • Desired start date: March 30, 2016.
  • Length of position: 6 month position.
  • Schedule: 30 hours per week, Monday – Friday (minimum requirement).

Fees                                                                                                                              

Housing and internship fees will be waived for this leadership position. The leader will be expected to acquire/prepare his/her own food but will be allowed to use extra garden produce. The leader has access to all facilities as well as mentorship from local experts and T.R.E.E.S managers/staff. Leader must have international travel medical insurance during their stay in Belize. Living conditions will include a variety of accommodation types depending on client load (tent, tents on thatch roof platforms, cabins). Hot showers and flush toilets on site.

To Apply

Please email your resume and a thoughtful cover letter to: info@ecorana.ca (international applicants) OR info@treesociety.org (Belizean appplicants).

Please indicate the position title in your email subject line. No phone calls please.

 

For more information about the organization and center, visit www.treesociety.org