Eco Caminhos permaculture farm since its foundation has received people from Brazil and across the globe to share experiences and teach people about agroforestry, bioconstruction and Eco Tourism.
Since the beginning we also gave room to receive those we lack opportunities and resources to invest in learning opportunities. In fact our main mission is to make the world just a tiny bit more sustainable and just for everyone. We like to give you an inside of how our apprenticeship program works and give you an update about the development of our apprentices this year.
How do we attract and select apprentices?
We promote the apprenticeship program on our media channels and in our personal network. People can candidate themselves online. After a first screening where we check mindset, willingness to put their hands in the dirt,mental and physical health we invite them for 2 interviews. In the interview we verify first the expectations of the candidate. We want to check if the candidate understands the real conditions at the farm. A simple environment, hard work, healthy food and being outside most of the time. Also we emphasize the fact that we are in the mountains requires good physical preparation and mental preparation. We also explain the simple conditions of the farm to not set false expectation. For us motivation and simplicity is more important than a beautiful CV. With all the information thales (responsible for communication), Bart (managing director) and Dutra (general coordinator) decide which apprentice should come.
Older apprentices and more woman in our apprenticeship program
Until 2023 we called the program our young apprenticeship program and had a maximum age of 26. But we realized in 2022 that people above 26 were excluded from this opportunity. Sometimes a more mature person who has tried the job market and did not succeed to find happiness or financial stability is eagerly searching for opportunities like these. Another aspect we have worked on intensively this year is to bring more female candidates to the farm. In Brazil there is still a resistance for woman to work in the agriculture or construction sector. We believe this a shame as woman often fulfill crucial roles at our farm. And this year we succeeded to receive 3 female apprentices. 2 are currently active at the farm and 1 is on the way.
Length of the apprenticeship program and test period
The minimum commitment for an apprenticeship program is 3 months. We have a test period of a month. After 1 week we do a first evaluation. We check basic things such as working hours punctuality, work motivation, colleagues respect, cleaning and integration with the team. Also we have a zero drug and alcohol policy at the farm. Providing orientation at first week with several workshops, trainings and meetings we make sure the apprentice can integrate well in the program. After one month there is a crucial evaluation. 25% of candidates step out before the first month. For the 75% that stay there is a possibility to extend for another 9 months. For apprentices who conclude a 1 year program successfully we help them to get a job. And in case of Rodrigo and Wallace we contract them ourselves. Rodrigo already works with us for 3 years and has become a respected employee at the farm. We foresee the same path for Wallace who is contracted this week.
What can apprentices learn?
Our apprenticeship programs offer people the opportunity to learn about permaculture, agroforestry, bioconstruction and ecotourism. This is not just working in this areas but we offer theoretical training, we frequent give instruction session during the work periods. We do reflections on the things will build and grow to stimulate people to observe and react which is a crucial aspect of permaculture. Now possibly the biggest learning opportunity is that the people grow as human beings. In our individual world people can hide their flaws easily hidden in an apartment in big cities. We can run away from all our problems. At the farm not. We have no other choice than to face our flaws. Our community members, roommates or fellow residents will show us a mirror.
Conditions for apprentices
All apprentices are offered accommodation, food (mainly organic from own production), and a stipend. This all with the help of a number of generous sponsors. We want to make sure that everyone is able to have all the basic needs. Health care in Brazil is free. Still often the healthcare system offers very limited services. Eco Caminhos makes sure that we use all means, network to offer the best health care services for all our workers. In the future we hope to be able to offer health care insurance. But that is still a bit too expensive for us. Apprentices also get 2 months per year holidays to recover from the hard work and to be able to visit family and friends.
Lets present our apprentices to you.
Sarah, 37 years, Fortaleza, Ceara
Sarah has been an incredible input to our farm. With an incredible mindset and work ethic. Always giving it her best. Sarah wanted to come to the farm as she learned a lot about agroforestry but wanted more practical experience. At the farm she works in agroforestry, taking care of the caddle and milking the cows, composting and general maintance. Sarah committed for 3 months as she has to go back to Ceara for commitments that has made. We already offered her a job opportunity for 2024.
Natalia, 38 years, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina is a big economic crisis, many Argentinians are coming to Brazil to seach for opportunities. Natalia has been travelling for 4 years and thinks it was time to settle somewhere. Natalia has little experience with farming or bioconstruction. She has adapted really well. Natalia main jobs on the farm are cooking the lunch 3 days per week for the entire crew, she takes care of the caddle and milks the cows and she also likes to work in bioconstruction. As Sarah Natalia also has committed for 3 months.
Wallace, 33 years, Xerem, Rio de Janeiro Brazil
As mentioned before Wallace is being contracted this week thanks to his great contribution to the farm. We know Wallace from the time that Bart (founding director) was running an orphanage in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. Wallace announced his interest in the apprenticeship opportunity. He’s at Eco Caminho since December of 2022. Working in bioconstruction, maintance, Taking care of the cadle and milking the cows, gardening, driving and irrigation. We are very happy with Wallace at the farm. He is always ready to help wherever we need him and for this reason has become an important member of the crew. Wallace will be after Rodrigo the 2nd apprentice that we will contracting. He is very happy with his promotion and motivated to stay.
Amadeus, 18 years, Germany/Brazil
Amadeus is a Brazilian German who worked with us as a volunteer for 1 year. We have been very impressed by the progress he has made during one year. Amadeus worked mainly in agroforestry and his skills and motivation have developed impressively. He matured a lot, created work ethics and also socially developed incredibly. Became friends with the entire crew. Asked us before his year was over if he could come back in the apprenticeship program and stay for a few years at the farm. We were very happy. Although he does not have the profile of being in need we believe his presence is very important also for other apprentices. For this reason the Eco Farm will pay for his stipend. We expect him to become an agroforestry specialist in time. He is coming back in the beginning of 2024.
Leandro 19 & João 17 years, Xerem, Rio de Janeiro
João & Leandro stayed with us for a month. Both also lived as small children in the orphanage Casa do Caminho where Bart was the manager. Both are special and have a learning disorder. They contacted us and asked for help as both where homeless. We were very motivated to help them and the entire crew gave it their best to make them feel at home and to train them. It required a lot of patience of the team. After 6 weeks we had to end the apprenticeships of the boys. This because basic rules as the boys did not respect the basic rules of the farm and lacked motivation to learn all the techniques on the farm. It fell us very hard to let them go but we simply lack the human infrastructure to help these boys further. We like to share not only the success stories but also the difficulties we face.
Julio, 45 years, Esperanza, Argentina
Julio arrived yestersay from Argentina. He has experience in gardening and used to have his own vegetable garden. He also came to Brazil to find a better future and to learn more about permaculture, agroforestry and bioconstruction. We wish him an incredible apprenticeship experience with us.
Apprentices to come…
We have Jessika coming form Duque de Caxias, Rio de Janeiro in the next month. She will be working in the kitchen, bioconstruction, agroforestry, maintenance and animal care.
Want to support our apprenticeship program?
We are already generating sufficient income to cover its operational costs. However the expenses for our apprenticeship program are not covered by our income. Over the passed years several individual donors have helped us to finance this program and transform the life of individuals who just need an opportunity in life. Would you like to support someone?
Would you like to support an Apprentice?
Please contact us if you want more information what it cost to sponsor an apprentice and where you can make your donation.