Organic Farm Support

Until the early 1990s, we (Gandocans) depended entirely on subsistence agriculture, with cocoa being the most important product in the community. Back then, cocoa was valuable because it could be exchanged for products that could not be produced in the community such as salt, sugar and cooking butter. Unfortunately, this way of life changed with the opening of the large monoculture banana plantations around Gandoca. The people of the community started to work in these plantations and stopped cultivating their lands and transmitting that knowledge to the new generations.

During the program, you will support the small number of farmers who are emerging again to grow organic cocoa and revive this cultural and ecological practice. You will be working with farmers on their land, maintaining the plants and harvesting the cocoa. You will learn the history of cocoa from its roots, to production and exportation.

Sea Turtle Conservation

The first residents of Gandoca depended entirely on hunting and subsistence agriculture. Back then, eating turtle meat and eggs was common. Thanks to education provided by international NGOs starting at the beginning of the 1980s, the community of Gandoca has been working in the protection of sea turtles for over three decades. With support provided by volunteers, the new generations have taken charge of the protection of the now endangered sea turtles.

We Need Your Help

We need your help to protect the sea turtles that lay their eggs on Gandoca Beach each year. We are dedicated to protecting these beautiful prehistoric animals and have denounced poaching turtle eggs and killing turtles for their meat. Access to other sources of income, such as working in sustainable tourism, make it possible for us to do this important work. Unfortunately, there many threats to the sea turtles at Gandoca beach including increasing water levels, which erode their nesting grounds, natural predators and a need for more people to help protect the turtles from poachers during nesting season.

Leatherback Sea Turtle hatchlings make their way to the ocean for the first time.

Frequently Asked questions

How Will I Support the Protection of Sea Turtles in Gandoca?

Our volunteers support the protection of sea turtles in a variety of different ways including:

  • Day and night walks to monitor the sea turtle nesting on the beach. These walks are done in 4-hours shifts with two main goals: 1. To relocate the eggs that are in risk of being poached or destroyed. 2. To provide protection to nesting females.
  • Beach clean-up to improve conditions for the nesting process.
  • Supporting the community recycling program
  • Environmental education in the local elementary and high schools

Where do volunteers stay?

We offer a unique, immersive experience in which volunteers are hosted by families from the community. This offers an opportunity to learn about the culture and build relationships with community members. It is also a great way to improve your Spanish skills.

I’ve heard that turtles only nest during certain months of the year. What time of year would this volunteer program take place?

From March to August. In the beginning months of the season (April, May) the probability of seeing nesting Leatherback Sea Turtles is very high. On the other hand, during the last months of the season (June – August) there are more chances to see nesting Hawksbill Sea Turtles as well as Leatherback Sea Turtle hatchlings (pictured above).

Is there a minimum length of stay for volunteers?

The minimum stay for volunteers is one week. This is to allow sufficient time for the volunteer training, travel to the community and to ensure that volunteers can have a positive impact on the conservation project.