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Sustainable Agriculture & Gardening Volunteer Program in the Galapagos Islands

Sustainable Agriculture & Gardening Volunteer Program in the Galapagos Islands

Want to support sustainable farming initiatives by volunteering in the Galapagos Islands? International Volunteer HQ’s Sustainable Agriculture & Gardening project aims to create food sovereignty, lower the island’s carbon footprint, and boost income for the local community. As an Agriculture volunteer, you’ll get to learn sustainable farming practices that are better for the health of both people and the planet. You’ll also be based in the lush highlands in a tropical climate, which makes for a rich and abundant setting to develop your agriculture and gardening skills!

Highlights:
  • Programs start every Monday
  • Affordable fees from £1179 for 2 weeks
  • Includes accommodation, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Support sustainable farming initiatives in the lush tropical highlands

  • Discover nature and wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth

  • Stay in a local homestay or volunteer house in Puerto Villamil

Key information

Support sustainable farming practices
Based in the Tomás de Berlanga highlands
Homestay or volunteer house accommodation
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Fully hosted experience from £1179 for 2 weeks
Durations from 2 - 12 weeks
Witness unparalleled wildlife
4 - 6 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who are able to speak Spanish at a conversational level, are passionate about agriculture or gardening, and have an interest in learning about farming in a tropical climate. You should arrive ready to get your hands dirty and prepared to work outside.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Most of the local population on Island Isabela depend on tourism and fishing to support themselves however, the objective of this project is to create food sovereignty and to create alternative income sources by supporting sustainable tropical and urban agriculture initiatives.

Volunteers will learn local techniques for sustainable tropical agriculture and will help to create food sovereignty, lower the carbon footprint of island life, lower waste from shipping materials, which in turn lowers cost to local consumers, increase local income, and increase the nutritional content of the food available in Isabela.

The farms of Isabela Island have begun working with greenhouses to optimize production year-round in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. Volunteers will work in the highland town of Tomás de Berlanga, which is about 10 miles uphill from the coastal part of town. Located on the side of Volcano Sierra Negra. The highlands are fertile, lush lands with rich volcanic soil - perfect for agriculture. Your specific tasks will depend on the time of the year you volunteer as well as the needs of the project. This project has a minimum duration requirement of 2 weeks.

Volunteer work duties may vary but generally include:

  • Soil tilling in preparation for tree planting
  • Assist in planting local sustainable crops
  • Assist during harvesting season
  • Invasive species eradication programs
  • Livestock feeding in relevant farms
  • Assist with the implementation of water efficient irrigation systems
  • Greenhouse construction
  • Prepping for farmers market

Additionally, it’s important to note that the farmers do not speak English. A conversational level of Spanish is encouraged to make your experience easier, though this is not a mandatory requirement to join this project.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #13: Climate Action

Climate change affects everyone, everywhere. 2010 - 2020 was the warmest decade ever recorded and Carbon Dioxide levels have risen to an all-time high. In order to keep global temperatures below the Paris Agreement’s 2 degree Celsius limit, we must take action to educate communities, conserve nature and promote sustainable solutions.

Why do Sustainable Agriculture & Gardening volunteering in the Galapagos Islands with IVHQ?

As a Sustainable Agriculture volunteer in Galapagos, you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping create food sovereignty for local people
  • Lowering the carbon footprint of the island
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Learning local techniques for sustainable tropical agriculture
  • Immersing yourself fully in the local culture
  • Discovering the natural wonders of the Galapagos Islands

Volunteer requirements

Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate on this project independently. If travelling as a family, volunteers under the age of 18 must be at least 12 years old and accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program. They will be required to provide IVHQ with a parental/guardian consent form and two character reference letters in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team. Volunteers must speak fluent English. It is recommended that volunteers have a basic to intermediate level of Spanish in order to communicate with fellow workers, the local community and homestay families. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a recent criminal background check to IVHQ.

Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

JS
Jay Studer
01 Feb 2024

I absolutely love wildlife and believe in the conservation of nature. I believe mankind has played a big part in its destruction and decline of wildlife species and should do everything possible to help stop this. The Giant Tortoise Conservation project has made a huge difference and I am thankful for my experience.

...
SP
Shirley Phippen
30 Jan 2024

I loved that the team set up a WhatsApp group for volunteers right before we arrived to receive information and connect with each other. It was clear that they all cared and tried to support us in every way they could. The meals were good and I loved having the opportunity to eat lunch in the different restaurants each day - that was brilliant!

...
MP
Marie Perez
24 Jan 2024

What I loved most about this experience was the people; both the people who lived on Isabela Island and the international community of staff and volunteers. Every person was a wealth of information about their culture, their occupation and their pasts. My favorite time of day was at meals - I loved my host family. My host "Mom" was a great cook. We had fun communicating and at times mis-communicating. Along with providing a nice family environment they also took me on family outings, including visiting their family farm in the highlands on the weekend.

...
AK
Alexander Kocsis
24 Jan 2024

The team was fantastic and I really enjoyed working with them on the Sea Turtle Nest Monitoring project. The meals prepared by our host family were fantastic.

...
JB
Jane Barnes
24 Jan 2024

I had such a great time! The Sustainable Agriculture & Gardening project was so great, and the family that hosted me were so kind. I felt support from IVHQ and all in-country coordinators the entire time.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

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Volunteer Abroad in the Galapagos Islands with IVHQ

Location

The IVHQ Galapagos volunteer program is based in Puerto Villamil, a small port village located on the southeastern edge of Isabela Island in the Galapagos Islands. ​This is where orientation and general administration is carried out by our local team. Volunteer placements are located within walking distance around Puerto Villamil with the exception of the Sustainable Agriculture project, which is a 30 minute bus ride outside the village to the highlands.

Arrival and orientation

The Galapagos volunteer program begins every Monday and you need to arrive on Isabela Island on your Monday chosen start date.

After you have registered for the program, please book your travel into Seymour Galapagos Ecological Airport (GPS) on Baltra Island. From here you can either catch a ferry boat to Isabela Island (this ferry trip is included in your program fee) or take an island hopper plane from Baltra Island to Isabela Island with EMETEBE airlines (this flight is not included in your program fee).

Most volunteers arrive in mainland Ecuador on Sunday and spend this night in either Quito or Guayaquil. On Monday they then travel from mainland to Baltra Island, and then onward to Isabela Island. When you arrive on Isabela Island you will need to walk a few minutes up from the pier to the ABG (Biosecurity Agency) office where you will be met by a member of the local team who will transfer you to your accommodation (also included in your program fee) and then have a small town tour. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and begins from your Monday arrival through the morning of your last Sunday.

On Tuesday, orientation is hosted by our local team in Galapagos and runs for half a day, after which you will be taken to your placement. Orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Galapagos – Introduction to Galapagos, Galapagos Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities in Galapagos, Introduction to your Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socialising.

Volunteer schedule example

Weekdays

​A volunteer day is subject to change depending on your specific placement and the current needs of your project. ​A typical daily schedule​ might be as follows:

6:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation and walk to the bus stop.
7:00 AM Bus to placement site where volunteers join a local farmer and begin work on your project.
12:00 PM Lunch provided by your host at your placement site.
2:00 PM Return to town via bus, then volunteers have the afternoon free to explore the island, do some local snorkeling or take a surf lesson.
7:30 - 9:00 PM Dinner with your homestay family or at one of the restaurants in town. After dinner you will have the remainder of the evening free to relax and use as you wish.

Weekends

During the weekends, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of Isabela Island and other Galapagos islands such as the nearby Santa Cruz.

There is a dive site with great diving from Isabela, hike active Volcano Sierra Negra, snorkel site Tuneles and see the lava tunnels, visit islet Tintoreras, snorkel local dive spot Concha de Perla with turtles, seals, rays, etc., kayak the bay, rent a bike and visit the ‘Wall of Tears’ along the stunning coastal route passing lagoons, mangroves, and giant tortoises in the wild.

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers are accommodated in a homestay with a local family, which is an incredible and unique cultural immersion experience. Volunteers can expect to share a twin room with one other volunteer or have their own private room if there is capacity; each bedroom has its own bathroom.

Isabela Island is very remote and it is important that volunteers are aware that internet reception is very spotty. There is WiFi in the office and in a few restaurants/cafes in town. Visitors cannot purchase a SIM card in Galapagos, only residents. Volunteers can purchase a SIM card on the mainland before traveling to the island, or use an international phone plan that covers them abroad. The Internet is too poor to expect to watch Netflix or have video calls while on the island.

Meals

Volunteers are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Breakfast and dinner are provided at the homestay and volunteers can expect fresh fruit, fried eggs, bread and cooked green plantains. Lunch is provided at local associated restaurants and volunteers will have a variety of menu items to choose from. Lunch and dinner meals will include protein (meat, fish), rice and some veggies (varied depending on the season) and meals often start with a soup and include a natural drink.

There is filtered water available in the local teams office and in homestays, and volunteers are requested to bring a reusable water bottle with them.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please let us know so we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.

If you have any special dietary requirements, please make a note on your application so arrangements can be made. However, it is important that volunteers should not expect to eat as they normally do at home.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
2 weeks £1178 Equivalent to £84/day
3 weeks £1610 Equivalent to £77/day
4 weeks £2042 Equivalent to £73/day
5 weeks £2473 Equivalent to £71/day
6 weeks £2905 Equivalent to £69/day
8 weeks £3768 Equivalent to £67/day
10 weeks £4632 Equivalent to £66/day
12 weeks £5495 Equivalent to £65/day
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalised preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately £273) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in GBP.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: water taxis, bus from airport to ferry (US$5) flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, spending money, public transportation and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Program Fees for the Galapagos Islands program are non-refundable once inside 30 days of the program start date. Any changes or cancellations within 30 days of the program start date are subject to a US$500 late change/cancellation fee.

Check what's required to visit the Galapagos Islands

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristóbal
Population 2,500 on Isabela Island and 33,042 across the Galapagos Islands
Languages Spanish
Currency US Dollar (USD)
Time zone UTC-06:00

Weather and climate: Galapagos can be divided into three Climatic regions. The Pannonian Plains in the north have a continental climate of cold winters and hot summers, the mountainous Dinara Region in Central Galapagos has an alpine climate and the Adriatic coast, where our volunteer program is based, enjoys a Mediterranean climate of cool, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.

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How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
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Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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