We would love your help creating the farm at our volunteer house in Vieques!
Our mission is to help bring farming back to the island of Vieques, which currently imports 99% of its food and consumer goods through an unreliable and outdated ferry system. Right now, residents of Vieques are protesting the ferry system to change this, but it often means there are food and gas shortages on the island. When coming to volunteer in Vieques, please understand that many services and amenities found elsewhere, simply do not exist here. In 2019, the Census reported the median income on the island as $15,000 per year, and many of the islands needs, services, and infrastructure have been neglected for quite some time.
We are here to contribute in any way we can! We regularly assist the local community with volunteer projects, including beach and historical landmark cleanup, installing and maintaining solar panels on community centers or utilities, and are currently cooking meals several times a week for delivery to residents in need.
We sell our eggs and greens to community members and local restaurants, and are currently in the process of expanding our garden offerings. Also at the farm, we have many chickens, sheep, pigs, ducks, a turkey, and several cats. Our goal is to become self-sustaining.
We offer community living in our 2 bedrooms: each have 6-10 camp-style bunks, and a full bathroom. (Due to Covid, one of these rooms is a quarantine room, as CDC regulations state that upon arrival to Vieques, our volunteers must segregate/mask for 10 days when indoors, although you are still able to participate in farm and outdoor activities. Sometimes that means this room is co-ed, but we do have privacy screens, if needed.) We have a large living room/lounge area, washer/dryer/clothesline, and volunteer kitchen. We love having pizza nights, star gazing and constellation talks with a local expert, and occasional movie nights and dance parties! We do try to get to the beach as often as possible, and can suggest walking trails for you to get there on your day off.
We are looking for volunteers who can commit to a month or longer. We do require a 6 day work week, 5 hours per day, with one dedicated day off, and one 'slow day' for housekeeping tasks. It is a working farm, so very labor-intensive, but rewarding. Each day, you would be expected to assist with animal care, and/or various gardening or building projects, and daily or weekly housekeeping tasks. We often cook together, and clean-up is part of that process, of course. We expect that you are self-motivated, hard-working, and compassionate to others. We expect that you are willing to participate in communal living, and become part of our group dynamic. Violent and hostile behaviors are not tolerated.
We provide simple staple foods, and often make everything from scratch. You are welcome to purchase your own specialty items from the local grocery, when available. We accommodate special dietary requirements to the best of our ability (vegan/veg, gluten/dairy-free, etc).
Vieques is a beautiful island with incredibly friendly people, amazing beaches, and the brightest bioluminescent bay in the world! There are thousands of horses that graze on the island and lots of additional wildlife to observe!
If you feel you are in alignment with our mission to serve and restore our local community, please reach out to further the conversation!
Help with Eco Projects
DIY and building projects
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
The local community members we help often love having visitors and telling them about their lives and experiences. Vieques has a unique history and context within the Caribbean, long before Hurricanes Irma and Maria knocked out communication with the outside world. There's no better way to learn about it than hearing first-hand stories from the people who lived through it. People are generally willing to help you practice your Spanish here as well. Vieques is expanding as a tourist destination.
*Due to COVID restrictions and limited hospital treatment on Vieques, we take social distancing very seriously. At the volunteer house we are without masks and work hard to keep our farm protected from outside health threats. The beaches are typically empty and there arent too many gatherings with the community unless completing necessary beneficial projects.
** as the situation with COVID is always evolving, we are working to be able to do more community work outside of the farm but currently is very limited.
This project could involve children. For more information see our guidelines and tips here.
We currently need long term volunteers (staying for longer than a month) who are hard workers and self motivated to fill the following positions:
- Construction Supervisor: Someone handy to oversee, assign, and plan any construction projects. For example building new animal pens and fixing things at the farm, and projects for community members such as building chicken coops.
- Mechanic: Someone who has the ability to work on our cars at the farm. Vieques is extremely hard on cars and they often need creative fixes. We do not require certification as long as you have experience.
- House Supervisor: Someone to supervise, assign, and participate in keeping the house clean.
- Garden Supervisor: Someone to strategize, grow, and operate our garden beds so that we may continue contributing to food security for the island.
We are also accepting short term volunteers as well who are self motivated and hard workers. We are looking for volunteers to assist long term volunteers with their projects/tasks and to help with daily and weekly tasks at the farm such as:
-feeding grain to the animals twice a day
-letting animals out to graze during the day and putting them back in their pens in the evenings
-collecting buckets with food waste from the restaurants each night
-feeding the food waste buckets to the pigs each afternoon and then cleaning the buckets
-checking and refilling the animals’ water
-weeding the garden
-helping on the compost
-cutting grass and adding it to the bird coops
-collecting pallets for fencing
-reinforcing fencing on an as-needed basis
We ask volunteers to work about 5 hours of work per day. We also try to keep one weekday for light housework and a group activity, such as visiting the beach.
We ask that people staying at the house pick up after themselves to help keep the living space clean and tidy. Generally we do a big house clean-up once a week.
The volunteer house is two stories with the upstairs being inhabited by long term volunteers and downstairs level for short term volunteers. Each story has a full kitchen. The bottom story includes 2 dormitory bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, living room, and laundry room. Each dorm room has 6 beds (bunk style). If preferred we have cots available. We also have space available outside for camping. We have WiFi and a car for transportation.
We are in the process of making the house self-sustainable and growing more of our own food. US policy towards Puerto Rico has historically prioritized the industrial and manufacturing sectors over sustaining local agriculture, so few people grow their own food anymore. Encouraging local food security and autonomy is another branch of our work here. Our garden is developing, and we now have green onions, endless arugula and basil, passion fruit, bok choy, kale, ahi dulce peppers, oregano, walking stick cabbage, radish greens, tomatoes, soy beans, mangos, plantains, and bananas. We provide fresh duck and chicken eggs, home-made fresh bread, rice, beans, coffee, pasta, oatmeal, peanut butter, and general pantry staples for volunteers to prepare their own meals. The variety and quantity from the garden and trees varies by season.
There is also a produce market that we visit on Tuesdays to pick up food scraps for the animals and produce for the house like potatoes, onions, limes, jalapeños, tomatoes, broccoli, and other vegetables and fruits depending on what is being offered. Volunteers usually make a drive to town a couple times a week to run errands and pick up any personally preferred foods available for purchase at the super-market like dairy, nuts, and seeds. The non-profit provides meat that's usually pork, chicken or fish.
Most of us are on different schedules and working different projects, so volunteers are generally on their own to prepare breakfast and lunch. For dinner, at least 2 volunteers will team up to cook, and we eat together as a house family every night.
We have volunteers with all different diet preferences from vegans to flexitarians.
GETTING TO VIEQUES AND THE VOLUNTEER HOUSE:
You will either need to fly from San Juan to the tiny airport in Vieques two airlines service this, either Cape Air from the big airport in San Juan or Vieques Air Link from the other airport in San Juan. Vieques Amir Link tends to be cheaper, usually 85 dollars, but you have to transfer. Or you can take the ferry from Ceiba on the east side of the big island (ferries no longer leave from Fajardo, only from Roosevelt Roads in Ceiba - there is some outdated information online, so be mindful of that).
To get from San Juan to the ferry terminal in Ceiba you can take a taxi (around $80-$100 one way, takes 90-120 minutes depending on traffic) or a public bus (around $40 one way, can take up to four hours – go to the Rio Piedras terminal in San Juan to catch the bus). Please note that the public buses (called 'publicos' or ‘guaguas’) do not run on Sundays. There are multiple ferry crossings each day, but the most accurate schedule is not always available online & ferry service can be unreliable – best to leave yourself plenty of time. Depending on your arrival time in San Juan, it may make sense for you to stay the night there and then get the ferry following morning.
We will come and pick you up at the ferry terminal in Vieques (we’ll be in touch beforehand once dates are confirmed). If you are flying to Vieques from San Juan, please send us your flight information and we will pick you up at the airport. While there are a few taxis on Vieques, it's easier for us to pick you up and take you to the house the first time rather than explain to you how to get to the house on your own.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
We have wifi in the house, and emergency backup solar power in case of outages. However, speeds are limited, especially with a full house. It is recommended to bring a hotspot or tether your phone plan. All major US phone networks are available here, and you can check the coverage maps to be 100% certain.
We do not have hookups for draining septic tanks, but we can wire an extension cord and find a parking spot.
More than two
5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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