Want to learn more about tropical organic agriculture and the use of permaculture techniques? Want to spend time living and learning about the jungle? Want to work with interns from other cultures and expertise? Want to help feed a field station in a local sustainable organic fashion? Then this is the volunteership for you!
The goal of the T.R.E.E.S Research Center is to be able to feed all guests/visitors with as much local food grown sustainably and organically as possible. As an education center, T.R.E.E.S also desires to have these organic gardens and orchards 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 volunteer should be willing to work on the T.R.E.E.S garden plots and organic fruit orchard using organic growing techniques. The position will also involve visiting local organic farms and acquiring local expertise. As the center is wishing to go organic, the volunteer (with guidance from the project 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 volunteer 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 volunteer to go visit local projects from time to time, as well as occasionally going to town to get supplies.
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 fruit orchard, a biochar pit and many other permaculture and organic farming techniques. We also have a small animal component which we would like to expand. We currently have 70 laying hens, chickens for meat (in season) and 60 ducks. We would like to expand to include a few pigs in the orchard.
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!
- Long hours in the field planting, pruning, weeding, preparing seedlings, etc.
- Work under supervision of project leader
- Work in the community with locals in gaining local knowledge about growing fruits and vegetables in the tropics
- Learn new methods of creating natural insect deterrents and natural herbicides
- Help project leader build raised plant beds, a biochar pit, shelving for inside greenhouse, irrigation system for greenhouses, a aquaculture pond, etc.
- Maintain worm composts, surgeon fly composts, meal worm composts, pruning fruit trees in orchard, maintain spice gardens and much more.
- Collaborate on the T.R.E.E.S organic agriculture guide 4-5 page report on findings during internship (requests, suggestions, future ideas, do’s and don’ts).
- Daily maintenance of farm animals and potential expansion of animal farm.
Desired qualifications, physical requirements and work conditions, benefits, terms, fees, and application instructions can all be found here.
Fees for internships are 250-280$/US per week. This includes use of all facilities as well as mentorship for the intended internship. It also includes full or partial meal plans (depending your needs). Interns must have international travel insurance during their stay in Belize.