BLOW YOUR MIND AND BECOME A TRUE NINJA FARMER
The apprenticeship at Atitlan Organics provides an opportunity for 5 committed individuals to hone their skills and learn the ropes of permaculture design and profitable farm management. As opposed to the Visiting Volunteer, apprentices are fully integrated into all aspects of farm management.
Why am I excited about the new one month permaculture apprenticeship program starting at Atitlan Organics this October?
Up until now we have only had two ways to really connect and interact with the farm, through volunteering or through courses and workshops. Many people choose to participate in the workshop and then stay on for a few weeks to practice the newly learned skills in a real setting. This is great. Our volunteer program offers a chance for anyone to come and help out on the farm for a minimum of one week. Many people come for two weeks or less and have a great time. What I have seen is that while the 4 hour volunteer work schedule, as well as the depth of experience on the farm, works for many people. But some people want more.
Some people want more integration into the farm. To be relied on more and to learn more by doing and also by being taught. Here is an example.
Milking the goats is arguably the most important morning (and afternoon) chore that we do on the farm. For many years, only myself and Nicolas milked the goats. While we do offer all course participants goat milking opportunities, we have decided not to directly invite volunteers to join this activity. Why?
- It honestly takes at least one week to even begin to become proficient. Before then there is always spilt milk, spilt feed, and escaping goats.
- The milk is the most valuable daily yield from the farm. We cannot risk daily losses of milk due to inexperienced milkers.
- The goats can get infections or sickness if hygiene is not maintained, or if they are not milked correctly.
Thus, as it stands, we choose to only allow long term volunteers and people with previous milking experience to milk our goats.
By creating a one month apprenticeship, we can build a whole new schedule that integrates the apprentices into more of the daily rhythms of the farm.
What to Expect
THE APPRENTICESHIP INCLUDES THE INTRO TO PERMACULTURE WORKSHOP
The one month apprenticeship kicks off with the introduction to permaculture weeklong intensive. This provides all apprentices with the foundations in theory and practical technique that is needed to carry on throughout the month. The weeklong workshop is an amazingly transformative experience and apprentices are joined by other participants from all over the world. While the rest of the apprenticeship only includes breakfast and lunch, the weeklong workshop includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert!
WORK IN AND EAT FROM THE APPRENTICE GARDEN
On the farm, there is now the Apprentice Garden, an area dedicated to feeding apprentices and volunteers, as well as to teaching apprentices the art of vegetable gardening. Vegetable gardening truly is an art and it is an instinctively natural form of human expression and creativity. It is a transformative process that you become part of. The Apprentice Garden is an amazingly powerful learning tool and each afternoon is dedicated to optional work time in the space. There is always something to do and the results are delicious.
WEEKLY LECTURE SERIES WITH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL SPEAKERS
Lake Atitlan is an area rich with both indigenous and natural systems to learn from, as well as local and international permaculture practitioners that are willing to share their knowledge and experiences. The apprenticeship includes a weekly lecture series for apprentices only, as well as additional filed trips to other farms and communities that practice permaculture and alternative living.
WEEKLY READING ASSIGNMENTS WITH GROUP DISCUSSIONS
Each week, the apprentices receive assigned reading that is in some way connected to Permaculture and alternative living. Each week will include a weekly discussion where ideas relating to the readings are discussed and turned over. The readings may connect to the weeks lecture, but may not. They will likely connect with something going on at the farm at that time.
MILK THE GOATS, TEND THE NURSERIES, AND CARE FOR BABY CHICKS AND PIGLETS
Apprentices are deeply connected to the farms main activities, which include raising animals and growing vegetables and fruits. Performing all of the morning chores alongside an experienced guide enables apprentices to become competent in most aspects of basic small-scale animal husbandry and organic market gardening. Needless to say, the apprenticeships may not be best suited for people who are not interested in working with animals.
SWANKY FOOD AND LODGING
Apprentices stay at the Bambu Guest House, which offers, large shared rooms with bathrooms, hot showers, and balconies with crazy views in each room. There is also, wifi, an amazing permaculture library, and a super chill onda. Apprentices work M-F and get breakfast and lunch on the farm, from almost all farm products. Dinners and weekends are left up to apprentices to decide what to do. There is a guest kitchen at the Bambu Guest House and meals are often prepared and eaten communally. A note that during the first week of the apprenticeship, apprentices participate in the weeklong workshop and receive all three meals a day, plus snack, coffee/tea, and dessert.
More Info About the Weeklong Workshop:
The intention of the Intro to Permaculture weeklong intensive is to bring the knowledge of permaculture to a wider audience by providing an empowering, functional, and affordable introduction to permaculture, through lecture, hands-on practicals, field trips, and group discussions.
Atitlan Organics has been offering the Introduction to Permaculture Weeklong Intensive for over two years now and has trained well over 150 people from around the world. The weeklong intensive is great for both beginners interested in learning something new and for seasoned permaculture practitioners alike.
What is Permaculture?
There are literally hundreds of definitions of permaculture and as far as we are concerned, they are ALL VALID. Part of respecting and valuing diversity and self-regulation means tolerating ideas or interpretations that one may not agree with. That being said, we have our favourites.
While we spend a lot of time in the garden and working in nature, permaculture is applicable to all aspects of life. A more technical approach to permaculture suggests that we mimic nature and natural patterns to design and implement ecosystems that meet our collective needs. A deeper definition considers the whole of human culture and suggests that permaculture is a tool for designing new ecological culture, considering the whole of the earth in all of its strategies. Whatever definition works for you is cool. We like to say, it doesn't matter what you call it, just so long as the work gets done!
The weeklong course is jam packed with al kinds of activities. Basic format is as follows:
- Sunday evening includes group introductions, a short lecture, a movie clip, and an activity
- Monday is dedicated to the Permaculture Principles, Ethics, Definitions, and basic theory and philosophy. The afternoon includes a thorough tour of the Atitlan Organics, through the lens of the principles of design.
- Tuesday through Thursday follow the same format. In the mornings we split into our smal work groups for one of three practical activities. Each morning we rotate so that each group performs each job. The afternoons are lecture, video, and other group activities.
- Friday is a big day, starting at 6:30AM with a private boat across the lake. We eat breakfast in an open air local market and then embark on our field trip to explore a number of different Mayan permaculture sites. We arrive back at the guest house by 5pm.
- Saturday is a big brunch at 9AM, followed by individual presentations on how each person will apply the permaculture design principles in their own life.
Get connected to your food. From seed to the table!
Work closely with various animal systems!
Harvest and process coffee and other local products!
Get lots of real hands-on practical eperience!
Learn how to propagate plants the easy way in our interactive nursery.
Studying Permaculture in Central America offers amazing opportunities to learn from indigenous cultures, rich natural patterns, and enormous diversity. Permaculture in Central America is representative of the edge effect or Edge Valuing Principle of Design. As one of the world's centres of biodiversity, Central America attracts people from all over the world interested in learning through nature. Permaculture practices can be seen in action via the surviving indigenous traditions that are common in Central America. Studying permaculture in Central America offers designers great opportunities to learn from diverse groups of people in incredibly diverse natural settings.
Lodging and Food
Atitlan Organics works closely with the Bambu Guest House, which is a five minute walk from the farm and the place where the participants stay for the duration of the course. The Bambu Guest House is a brand new, natural building boasting bathrooms and balconies in each room, new comfy beds, wifi, super hot water, and amazing views of the lake, mountains, and rivers. The Bambu Guest House is proof that natural building can be clean and luxurious. Lodging is shared, but private rooms are also available for an additional charge.
Permaculture Design Courses have always been known for their excellent, organic, locally grown food and our weeklong intensive is no exception. The Bambu Guest House has a Farm to Table Restaurant that serves up delicious and filling plates mainly composed of Atitlan Organics and other local farm products. Currently, Atitlan Organics supplies all of the milk, yogurt, cheese, salads, cooking greens, honey, coffee, chicken, taro root, pigeon peas, and herbs to the Bambu Guest House Restaurant. The restaurant is run by three young, local, aspiring chefs named Antonio, Juana, and Petrona, all only 19 years old. They are amazing!
All food, snacks, coffee, tea, and frescos are included in the weeklong permaculture course, as well as lodging for the duration at The Bambu Guest House. Three meals a day are served, buffet style, as well as coffee and tea throughout most of the day and two daily snacks as well. Basically, you are well-fed and well-kept. It feels soo nice! If you are interested in private housing, please mention that to us when you write.
Travel and Logistics
The workshop always starts on Sunday afternoon. Participants are expected to arrive by 4pm, but are welcome to come and check in at the Bambu Guest House any time throughout the day. Once the course starts, all food, lodging, training, and travel is covered and included in the cost of the workshop. We often travel on local pickups, which makes all excursions fun and exciting. Adventure travel for sure! The intensive ends Saturday a noon, following a big brunch, student presentations, and goodbyes. We can help arrange shuttles to/from the airport, Antigua, or anywhere else for that matter. Just let us know if you need this service. Upon writing us to express interest, we will send an FAQ and a food allergy questionnaire. We can accommodate all requests including vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, etc. We will also send the Permaculture Course Note Packet, which is an amazingly fun, illustrated notebook that contains most of the course curriculum in abbreviated forms.
Coming from Antigua, you would go to Panajachel, which is one of the three big towns on the lake and takes about 3 hours to arrive. From Panajachel, you take a boat (lancha) at the public dock. Tell the captain that you are going to the town of Tzununa (zoo-new-nah) which is three public stops from Panajachel. Get off at the Public Dock in Tzununa and take a Tuk Tuk or little three wheeled car and tell them you want to go to El Bambu. It costs q5 per person per tuk tuk and should be around q15 to q20 per person for the Lancha ride. When you get to El Bambu, go through the gate and up to the main building. Someone will show you your room. As noted, we are in the little town of Tzununa, quiet and still 'undiscovered'. From the guest house you are less than 10 minute walk to the lake and less than 20 meters from beautiful rivers. You are a 45 'minute walk or a 10 minute tuk tuk ride away from the town of San Marcos la Laguna. This has many places to eat, drink, practice yoga, etc. Again, we can help you get to the lake from Antigua or the airport, or from anywhere. Just let us know and we can arrange a shuttle for you.