Permaculture Study: Internship

We consider any internship first and foremost to be about you, the intern. Anyone wanting an internship wants to get something out of it, else why even bother. There might be things you have already defined that you want to get into deeper, it might be that you look for a certain experience, or maybe it is meant to give more meaning to travel plans you are making. In any case it is important that you mention what it is you want to get out of a stay here when you contact us.

To help you figure out if we’re the right place to go to, let us tell you a bit more of our experiences, what we do and how we think. We started on our farm in March 2014. We only had a Permaculture Design Certificate (commonly referred to as PDC) and a deep desire to get out of the city for a multitude of reasons. We had no farming experience, but we had a bit of a budget to help us through the initial years of learning how to put permaculture into practise.

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We bought a difficult farm: on a steep hillside, overgrazed and overgrown, compacted and depleted soils, but with a stunning view, an interesting water flow in the rainy seasons and a nice semi flat area of about 1 hectare in the middle. We never liked the existing house, and we plan on building a new one ourselves over time.

Our learning process was longer than expected because nature decided to give us a crash course in weather/climate issues. We started with torrential rains every now and then, followed by 16 months of drought caused by the strong 2015/16 El Niño, and then a prolonged wet season this year with less heavy but more frequent rains that soaked our soils with water. It was freaking fantastic, we got to observe these extremes and nature showed us how she deals with them best. It helped us develop our design with confidence.

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And that’s where you find us today. We have learned about our climate, about earthworks, about permaculture design, about our animals (pigs and chickens), about what grows in our alkaline soils and a bunch more things. We have started digging terraces into our slopes and we’re working to give our animals better places and permanent corrals instead of the improvised housing we made for them before. We’re slowly starting up our pig breeding operations which for now will be our main source of income, until other products get added. In short, we have observed and interacted and nature has shown us the way forward. We’re now implementing what we learned and we think we need two more years to complete that.

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We’re a place to go to to learn how to start, to experience what it is like to build up a productive farm once you have all basic things figured out, to be confronted by an overwhelming amount of work, but with the knowledge that once it’s all in place your only work will be harvesting, maintenance and replanting. The reason for that is that nature has shown us how she works and we’re going along with her, leaving her in charge. She is already bringing in more birds, more insects, more frogs, more lizards, more of everything. We will continue to assist in creating a stable and secure landscape and let her take care of the rest. We will seed and plant species that we want, but we will respect the network she will build around them. And we can see that it works and it works great!

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We offer three types of internships: the happy intern, the eager intern and the sweaty intern.

The eager intern is about experience. You want to feel how it is, experience the day to day life on the farm. You want to hear about real life experiences and to participate in it. You understand that every hour you put into helping us is an hour we will put into helping you advance on your own path. We’d love to have you, because with you mankind advances. We will balance your input with our input. We will have to charge you 15 USD per day for your food and other costs we’d have to make though, but those expenses you would normally have anyway. Normal stay for eager interns is one month, if you like to stay longer, we will tell you after about three weeks if that’s OK with us.

The sweaty intern doesn’t care for longer working hours. You want to advance yourself because right now you don’t have a lot of options. Getting the travel expenses paid is about all you can do, so you offer us to work for your food and whatever else you will need during your stay. We’d love to have you too and we will do all we can to advance your knowledge and experience. We will ask you to work with us during your stay, but don’t worry we won’t ask you to do more than you can handle although we will fill your days. Yes, we will also have conversations about society, about the system and culture, about life, about permaculture, about anything. We will explain what we do and why, we will think with you about your future options. If we like how things go we might invite you to stay longer than one month.

The happy intern just comes to learn and not to work. To watch what’s going on and to have endless conversations about anything and everything. You are the more intellectual intern. The person who wants to work as a politician or an advisor or a designer after having learned how things work. We love it, ask us anything, let’s philosophise about life, about our system of civilization, about central banks and currencies, about nature, about resistance to the system, about… just about anything. We’re happy to have you, because it’s intriguing and it’s intellectually challenging. But you also have to feel that we’re pretty poor Colombian farmers, so we have to charge you 450 USD per week for your housing, your food, your transportation, and for our time and ideas. And we will challenge you in our conversations! You’re very welcome because you will help us to help other people and to continue our work. Normal stay for happy interns is between one and four weeks. Longer stay is not possible,because after 4 weeks we have given you all we can and it’s time for you to move on.

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A few final remarks. First is that we keep animals for meat. That is an important part of our farm and it does involve slaughter of chickens and sometimes a pig. For vegans, vegetarians and animal rights activists this might be too difficult to deal with. We’ve thought about these things for a long time and we feel that for us it’s an inevitable part of having a farm. We’re not interested in discussing this with anyone with strongly opposing views, because it only leads to frustration for both parties. So all vegans, vegetarians and animal rights activists, we love you and respect your reasons for your views, but we feel we’re not the right farm for you to come to.

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Second is that we live in the Colombian countryside, that means we have a simple life. We have electrical power, but it fails regularly and sometimes it takes days before disruptions in service are restored. We have mobile internet, but especially during holidays there are many tourists in the area and the lines get clogged so we cannot get any data during these days. Our water is rainwater, hot water is solar, so in the night and during cloudy / rainy days we have only cold water. There is no cable TV. Living here is a bit like camping.

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Finally, as is the case with all good things in life there are risks. We will do everything we can to keep you safe, but in the end accidents can happen and if you do not follow our directions you might put yourself in danger. We will not and cannot take responsibility for your actions and we cannot pay for medical services if you need any. It is up to you to use good judgement. Getting a travel insurance might be a sensible thing. Think about this before you come and arrange for what is necessary yourself.

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We want to build lasting and respectful relationships with people. We will do all we can to give you the best time possible on our farm. We ask the same of you and together we can work out any issue that might arise. We’re not very judgemental people and we value honesty. You can talk to us about anything.

Please contact us if you’re considering to come and stay with us.

For more information about our farm and our life, please read the other pages on this site.