Monday, August 10, 2009

New Volunteer Information Below Announcements!


We have a fairly constant stream of volunteers and students coming and going, so I have decided to ask everyone to try to drop me a line when you are coming, and if you come earlier please bring a cheese or 2 pounds of meat or some chocolate or something, everyone loves treats! And if you must just show up, well, we will find a place for you somewhere, no worries.

By having longer stays on the farm we think that we will be able to complete more projects, the kitchen runs more smoothly and volunteers get a more complete orientation and are actually able to participate in, and even complete, projects. Persons who come for 2-3 days or one week simply do not get the quality experience we want for every volunteer. And I ask everyone to pitch in for a week at a time, even if you are only staying 5 days.

There's always something to do at Neverland Farm!!! We wake up at no later than 7:30 (ok, ish) so we can be at our work assignments by 8:30. There are usually a few options to choose from as to what you're doing.

Currently we are harvesting cafe', gardening, weeding, doing loads of animal care and getting restarted on our micro hydro electric installation. Our gardens are providing the minority of our produce at this time, its been very dry and we have had several major wild fires rush by. Thank god we have our creek protecting us and our homes from major damage. But we have ash everywhere. I have been purchasing our excess food at the market ouside of Loja, we have a great resource of organic produce there when we need it!

Several Ecuadorian men and women work with us, so the dominant language is Spanish. No worries, you will pick it up quickly- some of our helpers also like trading english, french, german, whatever, for spanish lessons. But you do have to go and work with them in the garden or field or on the mountain to learn! All really nice people, fun, and good teachers.

We have lunch at 12:30 til 1:30. Lunch is large- we almost never serve less than 10 people and we try to have soups and meat and veggie daily. We drink a lot of our own hand picked cafe. After lunch we work till 3:30 or so. This is Mon-Fri so it should work out to 25 hours a week although it is in reality closer to 18-20 hours due to weather, unexpected circumstances, and general lounging (that hammock is deadly, after lunch siestas can go long). It's relatively hard work (weeding, turning garden and compost beds, planting, etc) but, it's not a really long work day and we usually have some fun in the process. Bring gloves!! Bring extra gloves, we will buy them from you if they are any good at all. Somehow we always need more gloves!

Generally, we have between 5 -15 volunteers at any given time. Volunteers stay from a few days to a few months. At least a couple of weeks is preferred to give you time to really experience the farm but it's not mandatory. We have bunk house type accommodations with 2-6 in a room but also have rooms for couples and even larger spaces for families (we do have private individual rooms as well). We ask for a $50/wk contribution which helps cover clean linens, candles, gas for cooking, food not grown on the farm (and food grown at the farm, of course), Silvia or Alba to help us keep the kitchen sane, cows that we milk for our own milk, yogurts and cheeses, chickens for biodynamic eggs, meat and compost and the general operating expenses of the community. This fund also covers all of our off the farm community service work, helping kids go to high school, building a local community and agricultural resource center for the small town of Tumianuma, providing for a teacher volunteer at our local elementary school and much more. Each person contributes equally in this community, and it IS an egalitarian community. It's nice, since we all put in equally no one has to ask permission to make a snack or bake cookies, all food is communal. But make a lot!

Neverland farm cannot offer the quality of experience that we do without the support of every community member, permanent and transient. Additionally, many people make donations, both specified and unspecified- feel free to pitch in! And try to help out by being prepared to pitch in when you come to the farm, not expecting someone else to cover your week until you get to the bank machine in town! Thank you.

We eat VERY well!!! Vegetarians and carnivores alike are accommodated (fruitarian, too, but you have to gather your own which is not included in farm hours as it takes a lot of time). At this time we buy some produce (mostly tomatoes) off the farm from organic growers but are aggressively trying to bring our self-sustainability up to at least 70%. We are fairly remote, being a 45 minute walk to the nearest little barrio(town) Tumianuma which has a usable telephone (.25 a minute to the USA) most, but not all, of the time and snacks, beer, soda etc. as well. Someone there has a pool table too, in their house, but if you play pool you will probably be welcome! Tumianuma has really good fun parties. Really good!

Neverland Farm does now have internet. We do not include internet usage in our weekly participation budget (its too expensive), so if you need access you can pitch in some on the monthly bill, please! Tumianuma and Neverland have wireless internet since Jan., 2010, thanks in part to a lovely donation from We also have pretty good solar panels, mostly for lights at night and definitely for music, for charging batteries etc.

Our internet cafe' in Tumianuma is open now, so interested volunteers can help there teaching basic computer and internet, as well as getting some great practical spanish lessons in the process. Our local elementary school and high school need volunteers as well, in computers and english pronunciation.

Vilcabamba is the closest town of any size and that's an hour bus ride from Tumianuma (population 300 +/-). It has telephones, internet cafe', an ATM, and some of the comforts of civilization. Loja, another hour ride from Vilcabamba, is a larger city and is where you'd need to go to find harder to find items.

Speaking of, PLEASE do not bring non-rechargeable batteries to the farm. They tend to accumulate (disposable batteries are NOT) and we have no way of disposing of them properly. I really highly recommend the BoGoLight from SunNightSolar for excellent solar rechargeable flashlights that last forever. If you get any of these lights the farm will happily purchase them from you at the end of your stay!

Please do not attempt the path in/out at night for your first time, you will get lost. Our neighbors will save you but its better in daylight. If your bags are too heavy to take on a 35-45 minute walk, leave them at the store in Tumianuma with Gloria and her family. They will be safe there and you can get someone to help you come in with a burro

to pack your things out. Don't try to be a hero carrying a monster weight. Please don't leave your things sitting beside the path to retrieve later, many people walk this path, and while they are not thieves a big pack just sitting there in the middle of nowhere does look kind of like a nice gift, no?!

The past months at Neverland Farm has seen a massive project to maximize our garden and orchard production, as well as a more organized and comprehensive volunteer program. And we are now accepting apprentices for longer term through the North American Bio-Dynamic Apprenticeship Program, NABDAP. Anyone interested in longer stay at the farm should consider this possibility, it is an excellent program and Neverland is always happy and proud to host trainee farmers! 

I hope this answers most of your questions. If not, just drop me an email. Please refer to the rest of this website ( for detailed lists of what you need to bring, directions to the farm (oh- we now have a lovely rock and cement post/metal gate at our entrance, with a sign reading Neverland) and lots of other useful info!!! Peace, and happy travels!