We are a family practicing Natural Farming on our organic farm, below the town of Corongo in northern Ancash. Corongo is a remote place in the Andes, about 12 hours bus from Lima, or 5 hours from Huaraz or Chimbote. In Corongo there are -- no ATM, no supermarket, limited bus departures ; to Huaraz or Chimbote only every friday and from Huaraz or Chimbote to Corongo every sunday (3 pm). Direct to and from Lima 4 days a week, but those buses are not so comfortable.
Eilif teaches natural farming with Daoism influence ; it can not be learned in a couple of weeks, and we prefer "students" that will stay for a longer period (2-3-months) Before coming here, we recommend you read "The One straw Revolution" by Masanobu Fukuoka, to know what it is about. Our Natural farming has influences from Daoism (southern China) but also from traditional ways of mountain-peoples from America to Europe and India.
We have lots of serious hiking-possibilities -- our own glacier (5118 m) , lots of lakes and you can walk up the "Kapak Njan" (Qhapaq Ñan) - the ancient Inka mainroad along the spine of the Andes. Closer, we have hot springs, pre-Inka ruins and local fiestas and music connected to the waterjudges (now recognized as a world heritage by UNESCO) -- main fiesta is 8 days in june-july. On our farm we have plenty of places for yoga and meditation ; daoism is meditation - - learning from Nature. And you can watch the stars and starshots at night - no light pollution.
MINIMUM STAY: ONE MONTH.
NO SMOKING, NO DRUGS.
Our organic farm is located at a place called Atacalla, 2550 m.a.s.l. , about 35 minutes drive or 1 hour walk down from Corongo town (1 hour + 20-30 minutes walking up), but beside the farm, we also have fields on other locations up to 3600 meters altitude, for the cultivation of many different highland crops, also frost-resistant and heirloom crops from the northern hemisphere ( Our high altitude research plot is not yet established). We grow many of the "Lost Crops of the Incas" especially mauka (second largest collection in Peru), pasjul and rikatsja (arracacha). We have a collection of more then 200 varieties of native potatoes, TPS and fast growing varieties. We are building up a seed-bank (was a member of Seed Savers Exchange while in Norway) We have planted many fruit-trees of many kinds - selfsufficiency and diversity is our goal, but most trees are still very young. Many more fruit-trees are to be planted over the years.
We also have heirloom hens, feed them probiotic food and most of them are pastured in portable houses (pastured poultry). For the future we aim to be more selfsufficient in chickenfood, with "sauerkraut" of yacon, sunchokes and other plants and replace the current protein-source with Erythrina edulis (pasjul)
One of our main principles is : No Burning -- no clearing of land by fire and no burning of hills and mountains -- only burning firewood in the stove. Slash and burn have transformed the Andes to a man-made desert, mostly after spanish arrival. The Amazon area currently suffer massive destruction due to slash and burn of huge forest areas, for cow-pasture, GMO soybeans or rice. That kind of unsustainable practices kill a big part of life in the forest, and leave it vulnerable to erosion and drought. Ecosystems are altered or ruined forever and animals disappear.
Instead of burning, we compost and mulch, with a no-till approach. We also manage Tephrosia vogelii, Inga edulis, Erythrina edulis and other legumes as alley crops, to retrieve nitrogen and organic matter into the depleted soil. One of our long term purposes is to create green pockets that preserve local biodiversity, and better the local climate (better waterstorage due to organic matter and reduction of day-temperature) The Andes have a big potential for storing carbon-dioxid, if the big areas of steep land, unsuited for farming, is planted with forest (reforest) not eucaliptus, but native species, italian cypress, different pines..., that is also our long term goal, to reforest all the Corongo-basin.
Climate: In this part of the Andes, year is divided into dry season (may to september), and rainy season (usually heavier rain in January to march). A normal year our farm gets less than 200mm of rain per year (we are in the desert), and we depend on an irrigation channel for our crops. 2017 was "El niño" year with a lot of rain in march and april. In 2018 also most of rain in February to mid april. The days use to be warm (27-30 degrees C), with cool nights (never frost). Up in Corongo town (3180 m.a.s.l.), there is more rain, and it is colder.
Work : In dry season we work in the fields early morning and late afternoon ; weeding, clearing of hills, planting.... Watering of vegetables is done from 10am to 3pm, according to rotative shifts. Meals, study, and free time distributed along the day. Volunteers get two days free a week (according to own choice), and work the other 5 days. Help is usually 7 hours a day, but for this webpage we have reduced it to 5 hours a day as required, with certain changes and restrictions.
Food: we provide basic food ( no onions) - you prepare it yourself or together with the other students/volunteers. Our idea is self-sufficiency, but produce from the farm are still limited ; fruit-trees need some years before bearing fruits, and vegetables need watering with watercans daily (some is watered with sprinkler) for some months before we can harvest ( for one year since the landslide on 23. of march 2017 I have been the only worker) Vegetables in Corongo-stores, are not organic. When available, we buy vegetables from local gardens, but they are few and very limited. Local fruits are better (oranges, avocados, passionfruits, lokoma...) and we support a local economy. Fruits brought from Chimbote are not organic ; apples and peaches are worst -- be aware
Accomodation: we have built a new housing-unit with beds and matresses. It is better if you bring your own sleeping bag, but we have some spare blankets.
In dry season from may to september it is anyhow nice to sleep in tent, if you bring one. There are many locations on the farm to put it up. We have old fashioned outhouse - No WC.
Free time: free hot springs pools , 900 m hike from farm. You can also hike up to glacier lakes and to Kapak Njan (Inka mainroad) 4000 - 4500 m.a.s.l. (with tent - 2 or 3 days trip) We have pre-spanish ruins and local customs ; water-judges and celebrations. Main fiesta in Corongo is from 26th of june to 4th of july. Also as mentioned above, there are plenty of places that are perfect for meditation, yoga, hiking, stargazing, and a close experience of real Nature.
Mutual respect is very important.
We have been hosting volunteers for about 8 years in Peru now, and also before.
For more detailed information about each point, please read carefully the other informative texts below.
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Help around the house
Living the real experience of nature in a remote organic farm in the Andes.
Learning different practical farming skills in a full inmersion organic farm experience.
Cultural interchange with other volunteers from several different nationalities and backgrounds.
Sharing the space, cooking together, sharing the work and joining adventures. We have hosted volunteers in Peru for about eight years now (also before), and they use to form great groups that make for amazing temporary communities.
Experiencing first hand how is the life in a farm in the outskirts of a little Andean town, and in the town itself, as well as in nearby villages.
Practicing spanish by interacting with local people during free time, as nobody else speaks english in the nearby villages nor in town.
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
• Volunteers help 5 days a week, (5) hours daily, besides food prep time by turns and any study time. Free days: two whole days free a week.
• All work starts at 6am. It is possible to have some coffee/snack before that, in addition to breakfast at 9am. There are shifts for different tasks to accomplish, depending on number of volunteers, season, necessity, etc. Shifts and tasks are not rigid, and vary according to circumstances. For example, due to this dry season, a lot of the current help involves watering.
For you to have an idea, work could be, as a general example:
If it is your “field work” day, your helping day starts at 6 am to 9am, then breakfast, then study time and/or free time, one hour under roof tasks, lunch, and then resume work from 3pm to 5 pm. Work could include for example: weeding, making plant beds, seeding, transplanting, harvesting, collecting seeds, threshing, clearing or making paths, cleaning water channel, digging, mulching, composting, building, etc.
If it is your “Watering” day, your helping day starts at 6 am with “field work” tasks; then breakfast, then watering nursery and/or fields from 10 am to 3 pm, with lunch time in between. Free after 3pm. Instructions will be provided for watering.
If it is your “hens” day, your helping day starts at 6 am, preparing probiotic chicken food, then cleaning food containers and feeding chickens, giving them water. Then moving the portable chicken coops to rotate pasture, picking eggs, classifying them. Making sure hen houses and food containers are clean and fresh. It is an ongoing task during the day, with time to have breakfast and lunch in between. Field work is only two hours, most likely in the morning. Instructions will be provided for chicken food preparation, pastured poultry, and care.
If it is your “foodprep” day, your helping day starts at 6am. Tasks include cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner, dishwashing, cleaning and tidying of kitchen and eating area. Also feeding the cats and dog. Up to two hours field work, depending on the amount of volunteers. Instructions will be provided for what is included in this shift.
*️️️️️️️️Note: There could also be specific projects, like building design, construction of alternative energy generators, that would have their own schedule accordingly. We are currently searching also for volunteers with knowledge/qualification and experience in these two areas, as we want a plan/layout to build our house, and to get clean energy.
THE FACILITIES ARE BASIC:
• Dry compost toilet
• No electricity at the farm (but we run a gasoline generator some time most days) It's a perfect place for stargazing and watching star shots. We use candles or rechargeable lamps.
• No potable running water, but we bring spring water from town for drinking and cooking.
• Accommodation: There are two basic pressed wood rooms with beds and matress. You need to bring your sleeping bag, but we have some spare blankets in case. Or you can bring your own tent, there is plenty of space and spots to choose.
• Clothes can be washed with water-channel water at the farm, or at the nearby cold springs or hot springs.
• There is a gas stove and a firewood one, as well as a Norwegian country style stone&bricks bread oven.
• Volunteering days: We provide 3 daily meals, usually volunteers take turns to cook. Food/ingredients provided includes, all the year around: potatoes from our or our neighbors’ high altitude fields; locally grown grains; rice, pasta, lentils, beans, popcorn, flour (to make bread, pizza, etc. in the oven); local oranges and sweet lime; herbs for herbal tea; oil, sugar, salt, seasonings. According to season and availability, it could also include: local vegetables and/or organic vegetables and herbs from the farm (like pumpkin, carrots, red beets, raddish, tomatoes, cabbage, etc.); other fruits (like apples, cherimoya, avocados, passion fruit, prickly pears, strawberries, mangoes, banana, etc.); sweet potato and yucca; local honey; jam; local pastured meat about once a week, etc. Restricted due to local unavailability: milk, butter (there is only margarine in town shops). Not included: nuts, vegetable milks, sweeties, but you can bring your own.
• Days off: There are little restaurants in town, typical lunch or dinner menu (6+ soles) includes soup plus main dish plus beverage.
We do NOT ask for any fees nor any sort of payment/tip/hidden fee from any volunteers, ever.
We do NOT provide food during free days for the Workaway web page volunteers, as there is already a reduction of working hours to accomplish Workaway requirements.
THE WEATHER AND CLOTHING:
• At the farm in Atacalla (Altitude is about 2550masl) there's warm weather, usually sunny during the day, and cool at nights. Light long sleeves and pants are fine for the day, to avoid sunburn and mosquitoes, plus a sweater and/or light jacket for the night. It never freezes.
• Corongo (nearest town) is higher, about 3080masl, and definitely colder at nights, during the dry season can even get to 0°C sometimes. Days are generally sunny though. You will need a thicker jacket and socks if you want to spend a night there.
THINGS TO DO:
• There are hot springs about 900 mts hike from the farm, a swimming pool constantly filling warm water from a little waterfall. The water is always clean, as it runs all the time. The pool is half the natural rock and half concrete. There is also a little shallow pool, like a big bathtub in size. There is no entrance fee, and we get to bathe just by ourselves most of the days, except on weekends that some local people take advantage of their free time to bathe there.
• Plenty of opportunities to hike, trek, or camp around. If you practice yoga or meditation, there are many unique places to experience them in deep connection with Nature.
• Stargazing and celestial phenomena (star shots, meteor shower, red moon, lunar eclipses, etc.) observation, are favored by the lack of light pollution.
• In Corongo, there is internet cafe (slow connection), some little shops, small bakery, some little restaurants, church, police, health station, public phone, etc. There is a bank office (Banco de la Nacion), but NO automatic cash machine (ATM). Everything just basic because it's a quite small town.
• From Corongo it's possible to see a snowcap called Champara, and to go to the pre-spaniard ruins called Coronguimarca (30 min hike).
• Also from Corongo, it is possible to go up and arrive to some tiny villages, and further along to the glacier lakes.
• Other pre-spaniard ruins are possible to visit on high altitude, about half an hour drive or 60-90 minutes hike from Corongo.
We remind you of some important points already stated:
One month minimum stay.
English is the main language spoken a the farm (it is possible to practice spanish with locals during free time).
NO SMOKING, NO DRUGS.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
More than two
5 hours a day, 5 days a week (max 25hrs)