Working on an ecofarm: Volunteers living autarchic out in the sticks of Brasil
Ceará, Brazil. The first thing you would notice is the quietness. Well, in fact it is not quiet at all. Crickets are chirping, birds are singing. A sound that you never heard in your life, if you have never come to that region. Some birds sound like guinea pigs, others sing long melodies without a brake. You would wake up with them in your tent in the middle of the forest. It is a completely different life the volunteers have chosen here.
At this time of the year there are only five volunteers living on the Eco Farm “Flecha da Mata” near Canoa Quebrada in northern Brazil. Low season starts after carnival and even in this place you notice it. In high season there are up to 20 people living on the farm. The volunteers are between 20 and 32 years old, coming mostly from Latin America, one girl is from Spain. On the farm they have to work six days a week, no fixed schedule. The accomodation and food is free. The owner consignes the young people to their fate, he lives in another place, he has a lot of land in this area. But every couple days he comes by to organise new projects and to invite experts giving workshops.
Click through the slideshow and see the different projects
The Eco Farm "Flecha da Mate" is tricky to reach. You feel like in the middle of nowhere entering it.
Different signs show the way to the farm.
The main house looking like a smurf castle was constructed five years ago under the help of a German architect. It is the heart of the village. Inside you can assist for (yoga) workshops or music sessions.
Old pictures show the construction and the founder of the house.
This was the fundament.
This was the time when part 1 was ready.
From inside you can look over the green farm. The acoustic in this round building with high ceiling is perfect for music sessions and meditations retreats.
Unfortunately the hard rain has destroyed part of the roof. Reconstruction will be necessary soon.
The water tank is covered by a tarp, since the painting was made a few days ago by two Chilean artists. This tank fills up to 1,500 liters rain water.
The second part of the water tank is even bigger: 30,000 liters volume. It is enough for all people to drink, cook, take showers and use the toilet.
This is how the natural toilet system works: In a deep fundament the flushes go. There are big, porous stones. Above is a layer of gravel, sand and soil. The soil is perfect for plants like banana and taioba, a tropical plant that produces an edible, starchy corm, used for cooking. The plant is often interplanted within reforestation areas to control weeds.
The owner is happy. It has rained a lot in the last 24 hours.
The rain water goes also into a self-organism pond. The plant-particles are eaten by the fish.
This was the first solar panel created.
It creates sufficient energy.
You can always check if there is enough sun today. If not, the Eco Farm has also a usual electricity red.
These solar “palms” stand everywhere on the farm.
Another project made last year was this house. It consists of different natural components.
The holes in the wall with the bottles work as an air condition - inside of the house it stays nice and cool. Warm air comes from outside and is compressed in the smaller part of the bottles where it cools down.
The glass bottles give the house an interesting design and are a cooling system.
A close-up from the different materials used.
In the huge garden of the farm you can find many fruits, vegetables and spices. Here you can see a baby watermelon.
From the acerola-plant you can make delicious juices with a lot of vitamin c.
Different kind of plants grow rapidly in the tropical heat.
The latest projects are these ovens. Down you put small woods. The smoke comes out of the middle part where the fire gets enough air. And on the top you can prepare your food.
The pizza oven heats up to 300 degrees Celsius.
After a working day the volunteers come here to enjoy the sunset from a hammock.
The view to the nearby lagoon and the wind turbines in the background is fantastic.
Construction experts come from all over the world. The main house was planned by the famous architect Nader Khalili, who was a pioneer for inventive structures that incorporated a range of atypical building materials to provide shelter in the developing world.
The most recent projects in the Ecovillage are two ovens, one is for barbecue, the other one for pizza. The volunteers do everything by themselves under the support of the experts. They have their own electricity, own water supply, biological toilets and many fruits.
Living in the wild
More and more volunteers look for places like this one to spend at least three months or up to a year out in the sticks. They are looking for inner freedom, finding out more about themselves and getting in contact with nature. Even if they would not earn money during that time, they get knowledge in construction, sustainability and farming. After leaving the ecofarm they can use this knowledge for other projects or for their own houses. Many of them study biology, architecture or agriculture. The volunteers select the projects they would work on, for example handicraft, making jewellery or painting. When visitors come, they are allowed to sell these works, too. After only one day spending with this community you feel relieved.