Atitlan Organics Apprenticeship Program
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The Atitlan Organics Apprenticeship Program offers 6 dedicated and highly-motivated individuals the opportunity to spend a minimum of two months working on a small-scale, permaculture-inspired, direct-market farm in a developing country. The farm is located in the small town of Tzununá, on the banks of the breathtakingly beautiful Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. We seek to attract applicants yearning to make a comfortable and sustainable living on a small piece of land.
We see the value of the Apprenticeship Program as lying in three
distinct areas of work:
1. Permaculture Design: As we are a permaculture-inspired farmstead, apprentices will learn many of the design principles and philosophies behind permaculture and sustainable farming. Many informal workshops will be taught by Shad Qudsi, who is certified in permaculture design, and has over 13 years farming and gardening experience. Apprentices will be immersed in a functioning permaculture farm in its early-to-mid stages of development, which provides many opportunities for learning and experimenting with various design principals.
2. Direct-to-Consumer, Profitable Farming: Apprentices will experience what it takes to run a profitable organic farm. The founders of Atitlan Organics feel that traditional permaculture training does not adequately address the economics and profitability related to farming on a small, diversified landscape. We understand the need to earn a comfortable living and we are working to develop a model that others can follow.
3. Community Development: Shad Qudsi, Co-Founder of Atitlan Organics, was recently hired as the Agricultural Specialist to install community gardens at each of four nutrition centers in the Tzununa valley. Apprentices will be fully integrated into this project, which includes the design and installment of grey water circles, Eco-bathrooms, community nurseries, and other exciting things, all alongside indigenous women, sharing knowledge and insights across cultures.
The living accommodations for the apprentices are modest, and they are not located on the farm. We rent a guest house from a local family that has 7 rooms, each having one or two single beds. We generally have at most six apprentices at any given time, plus one apprentice coordinator, all living in the same area, sharing a kitchen.
We provide three meals a day, as much of it from the farm as possible. Generally speaking, the schedule of a normal day is as follows:
7:15am - Arrive on farm and start breakfast
7:45am - 1 hour lecture with Shad
9:00am - 12pm - Hands-on projects on farm, in nursery, or on community gardens
12:15pm - Lunch on farm
1:30 - 3pm - Afternoon activity or lecture
As noted, breakfast and lunch are prepared and served on the farm. The guest house is equipped with a kitchen and supplies for apprentices to prepare their own dinners. Several days a week, there are markets that we attend, which involves harvesting, cleaning, packing, and selling.
Minimum Required Stay is 2 months. The cost of attendance is $100 per week, if you pay by the week. If you pay for one month up front, the price is $350 for the month. If you pay for both months up front, the price is $300 per month. This money goes to 1) paying rent to a local family who owns the apprentice housing, 2) food, kitchen supplies, housing supplies 3) new and experimental projects carried out on the farm.
Spanish Lessons: We are proud to be working with an accredited Spanish School who offers group and individual Spanish classes for those interested in learning spanish. Generally, if you want to study spanish, after lunch, spanish students return to the guest house for classes, as opposed to the afternoon farming activity. Please note in your application, if you are interested in studying spanish with us.
We feel proud to welcome young and aspiring farmers to our community. We are building a model for a farm that is both for-profit and market oriented, but also one that works with the community to improve the health of the people, the soil, and the local environment. It is our hope that this program can inspire the best and hardest-working, up-n-comers to create their own local and appropriate solutions that will nourish communities around the world.
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