Help protect and preserve forests and farmlands, and study food, agriculture, and rural life when you join NGOs, universities, and independent growers on a sustainable farming experience abroad. You’ll learn that all farmland is not created equal, and farming today is more than just producing crops. It’s about business management as much as it is about animal or crop production.
How Can You Get Involved with Sustainable Agriculture?
There are many ways to get involved with farming and agriculture by interning and volunteering abroad.
Learn about sustainable farming production when you volunteer to work on an organic farm in either Costa Rica or Guatemala with Maximo Nivel. Agriculture employs more than one-third of the population in Latin America, but working conditions and the environmental impact can be less than ideal. Help with alternative programs that emphasize and teach eco-agriculture and responsible farming for coffee growers in Costa Rica, or macadamia growers in Guatemala.
Service-learning projects are an active way to educate yourself while providing assistance to others in need, and you’ll gain practical experience on a reforestation project in Ecuador with Frontier, or by working on organic farms in Laos.
Or try your hand at raising free-range chickens in Argentina, or combining education with farming in Ghana with Projects Abroad.
Global Nomadic can provide you with an environmental internship to complete your studies – including a dissertation – on an agroforestry project in Latin America, or whisk you to the Caribbean to restore a botanical garden damaged by Hurricane Irma.
Help develop sustainable agro- and ecotourism businesses to improve the lives of the Makushi people in Guyana on a project with Fronteering.
A Broader View places you on a community development project in Uganda, digging wells for drinking and agriculture, and building libraries.
If you’re studying animal husbandry, use this opportunity to assist with caring for farm animals in Turkey with Love Volunteers or try your hand at urban gardening in Brazil.
Spending time in the field and researching sustainable, organic agricultural techniques can lead to a variety of careers, including consulting, farming, management, and research. Keep reading to learn more about volunteer programs and internships that will help you accomplish your goals while helping to improve the world.
Featured Volunteer and Intern Abroad Programs
Maximo Nivel provides volunteer opportunities, international internships, gap year placements, Spanish-language immersion programs, TEFL certifications, and adventure travel in Latin America. With programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, Maximo Nivel is internationally accredited, and university credit is available for most programs. Since 2003, Maximo Nivel has been a leader in educational travel, hosting students, travelers, adventurers, volunteers, and faculty from around the globe.
Volunteer with Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a safe, peaceful nation with progressive environmental and social policies and a great place for a volunteer placement with Maximo Nivel. Situated in Central America between the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, Costa Rica has more than 1,000 miles of beautiful beaches, some with black sand, thanks to the chain of volcanoes and mountains of the Andean-Sierra Madre chain. There is world-class surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling found here.
You’ll work with coffee growers in the Monteverde Cloud Forest region of the Talamanca Mountains, gaining hands-on experience in every step of coffee production, from picking, weeding, roasting beans, and even packaging coffee. Other tasks include planting shade trees and helping with reforestation efforts. You’ll work about four hours per day, Monday through Friday, and you’ll need to be at least 17 years old, willing to take on seasonal tasks according to the project needs, healthy and fit, flexible about working in a rural setting, and hardworking and positive.
Volunteers work at offsite projects several hours away from Maximo Nivel’s headquarters, with limited access to the internet, but phone service is available. The field manager checks in throughout your stay, in-person and by phone. The Spanish language is not required for this placement, and you are invited to stay one week or longer. Learn more here!
Volunteer with Maximo Nivel in Guatemala
Guatemala is a historically significant country in Central America, once home to Mayans, then Spanish Conquistadors, and now the Guatemaltecos, who are proud of their indigenous cultures. The name means “Land of Many Trees,” and its abundant and diverse ecosystem makes it a popular destination for people with an interest in conservation and sustainable practices. Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Mayan ruins and its colonial architecture. It’s a popular tourist destination and there are great little shops and boutiques where you can buy souvenirs and traditional ceramics, textiles, and handicrafts.
Learn about and support responsible farming methods in Guatemala, helping coffee and macadamia nut growers near Antiqua reduce threats to the environment and to the people who consume their products. When you volunteer with Maximo Nivel on an organic farming placement, you’ll help every step of the production process, including planting, harvesting, processing, and packaging. Volunteers are in the fields about four hours per day, Monday through Friday, and registration requirements are similar to Maximo Nivel’s Costa Rica farming volunteer program above.
Volunteers work at farms close to the Maximo Nivel institute, just outside of the city of Antigua. Staff visit the placement sites and check on you during your stay, and you can volunteer for one week or longer. Click here to apply!
Love Volunteers works in 34 countries worldwide, offering more than 120 intercultural volunteer and internship opportunities. Launched in 2009, the team has placed more than 20,000 individuals on affordable placements so far, many starting at $280. Love Volunteers staff reviews each program for safety, social responsibility, and impact, and dedicated in-country teams offer support. Love Volunteers is transparent with its accounting and sends 90% of its fees to its partner charities and hosts.
Sustainable Farming in Turkey
Join other Love Volunteers participants on an agricultural development program in the outskirts of Istanbul, Turkey, learning sustainable practices and helping families retain their farms. Economic conditions in the rural areas of Istanbul are difficult, and often families break apart as members migrate to the cities to seek employment. This exodus of potential workers negatively impacts the community and decreases the food production of the country.
The goals of this project are to work with farming families, assisting them as they learn new sustainable agriculture methods, and to increase crop yield. This is a hands-on project and is best for volunteers with an interest in environmental studies, sustainability, and agriculture. You’ll be kept busy working on farms growing crops and flowers, assisting with animal husbandry, lending a hand around the village, and interacting with villagers and sharing your culture.
You’ll need to be at least 18 years old, and physically fit and active to work on this project, helping to create and maintain farms in this marginalized region of Turkey. You’ll stay in a public hostel in central Istanbul, a short commute from the project site. The hostel is a home-away-from-home, with amenities like free wifi and computers, a laundry, air conditioning, hot showers, and modern bathrooms. Meals are provided as well.
You’ll have opportunities to visit this ancient city that sits on the Bosphorus, a strategic waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara, and that divides Asia and Europe. It’s a popular destination for sightseeing the Ottoman palaces, fortresses, old villas, parks, gardens, and restaurants. Available year-round, fees start from $529 for one week, and you’re invited to stay longer. Learn more and apply here!
Urban Gardening in Brazil
Love Volunteers places you on a fantastic urban-gardening project with the residents of Rio de Janeiro’s largest shantytowns, Complexo do Alemão, teaching them how to plant and grow nutritious food for their families and the community.
Rio’s favelas are targeted by door-to-door salespeople who are selling cheap processed food, and because the residents don’t have ready access to transportation to visit supermarkets, this is an easy option. Major food and beverage companies also target the undereducated people of these communities, resulting in poor nutrition and poor health.
You can ensure the success of the urban gardening project by helping others to help themselves. A few ways that you will get involved include:
- Raising awareness of healthy eating
- Teaching planting techniques so residents can care for the garden
- Learning and teaching about medicinal plants and nutrition
- Designing and delivering garden-based lessons at schools
- Introducing ideas to youth about urban gardening
- Contributing to the material costs of seeds, soils, tools, and supplies
This hands-on project is an excellent choice for volunteers with an interest in environmental studies and a passion for gardening or those who just want to explore the topic. You’ll need a basic understanding of Portuguese (or even some Spanish) to interact with the children and the project team.
Volunteers stay at the area’s top youth hostel, the Cabana Copa, located in the safe and popular area of Copacabana. The hostel features free internet, lockers, TV rooms, and dormitory-style rooms. It’s next to a nature park and three blocks from the beach, with convenient access to the metro, restaurants, and other attractions. The cost for this program starts at $439 for one week, with longer stays available. Click here to learn more and to register!
Projects Abroad offers a wide selection of volunteer opportunities overseas, from teaching to international development and much more in between. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad sends more than 10,000 people on a variety of service projects and internships annually, immersing them in the language and culture of their chosen host country, while having a meaningful impact on the lives of its residents. Project types range from volunteering, internships, high school specials, alternative spring breaks, gap years, language courses, and projects for professionals.
Community and Farming Volunteer Work in Fiji
Immerse yourself in a traditional Fijian village! During this wonderful project, you’ll do a wide range of tasks that benefit the community, including:
- Teaching at a local school: Support the local education system and help improve the future prospects of the youth.
- Working on farming and gardening projects: Learn more about agriculture as you help grow food and manage resources for the community.
- Doing village maintenance: Want to get your hands dirty? Perform basic repairs, assist with basket weaving, clean facilities, and more.
During the community and farming volunteer program in Fiji, you’ll stay with a host family and help with cooking and cleaning. You’ll also play with the younger children. Since many local families practice some form of subsistence farming, you’ll do a lot of work in the family garden as well. And you’ll get to eat some of that food you grow!
During free time, the beauty of Fiji awaits. Relax on the beach, socialize with locals, visit rainbow-colored Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple, shop for handmade pottery in Nadi, and more.
Interested in making the trip to Fiji? Program fees begin at $2,470 for one week, with four weeks costing $3,460. Learn more and apply here!
Ethical Coffee and Chocolate Production in Costa Rica
Like coffee? Like chocolate? If you said yes to both, this trip is calling your name.
As part of Projects Abroad’s ethical consumerism initiative, this customized trip aims to teach you about sustainable food production in Costa Rica. As consumers, we have the power to change how we make food and clothing. We can make the process more sustainable for the environment and more fair for people. We just have to educate ourselves and change the way we buy things.
During this trip to Costa Rica, you’ll spend a week living with your host family in Heredia and learn all about organic farming. You’ll see firsthand the importance of eco-friendly agriculture to the local community’s future. And you’ll see how coffee and chocolate are made, from bean to cup (or plate). By the end of the project, you’ll know more about farming and more about how to make informed decisions as a consumer.
When you’re not learning and volunteering on the farm, visit nearby San Jose, drink coffee with locals, walk around the National University of Costa Rica, and more. You could even take a weekend trip to Monteverde Cloud Forest.
Want to learn more? The trips cost $1,695 for one week. Click here to reserve your spot!
Khmer Cultural Immersion and Farming Project in Cambodia for Volunteers over 50
Projects Abroad has volunteer farming and agricultural programs for all age groups, including those over 50 and seniors. For this cultural immersion and farming volunteer project in Cambodia, you’ll immerse yourself in local life and work for the community.
Cultural immersion activities include learning Khmer words and phrases, taking part in a cooking class, and learning the history of the Cambodian genocide carried out by the Khmer Rouge. When you volunteer on the farm, you’ll work in the fields, helping with planting and picking crops. Your work goes a long way in feeding local families! Another job you’ll have is to teach English to children.
This project is based in and around Phnom Penh, the bustling capital of Cambodia. Shop at Central Market, visit the Buddhist temples, and sample the cuisine! You’ll have time for side trips as well. Be sure to make the trip to Angkor Wat!
Ready for an epic adventure to Cambodia? It costs $2,805 for two weeks. Book your trip here!
Fronteering offers volunteer experiences in unspoiled places that are far from ordinary. Founded in 2007, Fronteering’s mission is to partner with communities that can benefit from volunteer input, while providing unique and adventurous travel to places rich in wildlife and indigenous cultures. Fronteering takes you off the beaten path and places you on quests with in-country coordinators ranging from former Jungle Commando rescue team leaders, to ex-UK Special Forces, and former UN Peacekeepers.
Sustainable Farming in Guyana
Combine adventure with a meaningful volunteer placement when you join Fronteering on an organic farming project in the Rupununi Savannah of Guyana. This is a pioneering tourism project that benefits the Amerindian communities through building sustainable farms and eco-lodges. The goal of the project is to educate the Makushi people, indigenous to this area of Guyana, to develop economic opportunities that don’t involve logging and mining, which are destructive to the rainforests. You’ll work to set up eco-lodges and farms that encourage tourism without harming the environment. When you participate in this project, you get to learn about and work in sustainable organic farming, library work and cataloging, hospitality management and training, agro- and ecotourism development, and art and landscaping.
Accommodations are comfortable, shared rooms at the farm and all meals are provided. You’ll be able to assist with cooking and dine with the host family. You should have a strong work ethic, and be 18 years of age or older. Experience is not needed but would be an asset. There are opportunities to view a variety of wildlife, including giant anteaters, monkeys, deer, armadillos, coatis, and cougars. This program is four weeks long and fees start at $1,495. Learn more here!
A Broader View Volunteers Corp (ABV)
A Broader View offers 245 volunteer programs in 25 countries throughout Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Founded with the idea that one person can make a difference in the lives of others, A Broader View places volunteers on service trips that last from one to 12 weeks in the areas of healthcare, teaching, conservation, community development, and women’s support. A US-based nonprofit organization, ABV advocates volunteer travel as the best way to experience a country, and to gain hands-on experience in your major or career.
Community Development in Uganda
Make lifelong friends and immerse yourself in the culture of East Africa when you support the ongoing work in the village of Bulenga, Uganda as a volunteer member of a community development program. This grassroots project places you in the village, working daily with residents to dig wells, move and make bricks, feed animals, helping to build a community library, and participating in educational outreach. This is a hands-on activity, so you’ll need a lot of enthusiasm, sense of humor, and generosity. You’ll work 40 hours per week, Monday through Friday, with weekends off to sightsee and relax.
Arrive in Entebbe, where you’ll be given a tour of the city and an orientation to the program. Staff will escort you to your host family and help you with money exchange, transportation options, and cell phone purchase. Living conditions are rural, and meals are included. You’ll need to be at least 17 years old if you’re traveling alone. You can stay for one to 12 weeks on this project, and fees begin at $820. Click here to sign up!
Agape Volunteers is a wonderful choice if you are looking for a reputable and affordable volunteer abroad trip to Africa where you can hone your skills and make a positive impact. Founded in 2011, AV is a registered UK charity that offers a variety of programs including volunteering, tourism, and development work in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Ghana, and Maasai-land. Program costs include registration and administration fees, tours and excursions, housing and feed, and even travel insurance, making Agape Volunteers the most affordable option for volunteering in Africa.
Volunteer in Kenya
Nearly a decade ago, Kenya suffered a humanitarian crisis. The targeted ethnic violence that followed the 2007-08 presidential election resulted in casualties of more than 1,300 people, and the displacement of half a million more. Many of these people remain homeless, living in temporary shelters as refugees at Internally Displaced Persons camps.
Agape Volunteers supports a large IDP camp in Mahi Mahu, sending assistance with medical outreach work, distributing supplies, and helping with the building and maintenance of ongoing construction and sustainable agriculture projects. When you volunteer for a project in Kenya, you’ll spend at least one day at the IDP, helping to construct fresh water supplies, and building houses and schools. A childcare project in Kenya allows you to help displaced children and youth, with an emphasis on infrastructure and gardening. Learn more here and select a project in Kenya that places you alongside refugees in an IDP. Your assistance in this life-changing experience is needed by some of the most vulnerable people in Kenya.
Since its launch in 2009, Global Nomadic has placed more than 10,000 people on meaningful volunteer programs, internships, TEFL courses, and research projects. Located in 40+ countries, Global Nomadic partners with NGOs, organizations, and companies, with a focus on conservation, wildlife rehabilitation, community development, and educational research. Global Nomadic also offers opportunities to young professionals on a career track.
Agroforestry Internships in Ecuador
Get hands-on experience in agroforestry on an environmental development internship in Ecuador with Global Nomadic. Stay for a minimum of two months in the Amazon region of Tena, working with experienced NGO staff and indigenous community members. Learn about forest conservation, agroforestry, agronomy, participatory community development, social entrepreneurship, marketing, and communications. You’ll gain valuable insight into the following topics:
- Landscape management
- Organic certifications
- Fair Trade certification
- Indigenous rights
- Climate change mitigation
- Biodiversity monitoring
- Women’s empowerment
- Grant writing
- Online marketing/media
While on the internship, you’ll participate in, and help develop cultural-exchange events in the areas of ecotourism, farm-to-table, Amazonian forest foods meals, and tea ceremonies using leaves from the guayusa tree.
The project consists of a 10-person staff and a diverse network of advisors and consultants, partnering with a network of 2,500 farming families, to create a social enterprise model that provides sustainable livelihoods while preserving the rainforest. There are numerous research and dissertation opportunities available, which need prior approval of directors.
Stay in the intern house just outside of Archidona, which has a fully-equipped kitchen, shared bedrooms, bathrooms, water, electricity, wifi, and cleaning services. When you’re not working, you can relax on the balcony, swing in hammocks, and enjoy the beautiful view of the river, the jungle, and Sumaco Volcano in the distance. Meals are not included, but you may purchase and cook your own food or dine out. You’ll need an intermediate level of Spanish proficiency to sign up, or you will need to learn some Spanish before you depart. Program fees begin at $350 for the first week, then $200 per week thereafter. Included in the fee are pre-departure and orientation training, accommodations, 24/7 support, and project costs. Learn more and apply here!
Environmental Conservation in the Caribbean
Leave a legacy when you help build a botanical garden on an environmental conservation trip on the island of St Eustatius with Global Nomadic. This nature conservation project is part of a restoration effort in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which devastated parts of the Caribbean in 2017.
Caribbean ecosystems are vital to the island economies and the well-being of its people, and they’re threatened by pollution, climate change, and tourism. Your work with the St Eustatius National Parks system will help protect this fragile ecosystem for years to come. Help with maintenance, design, restructuring, and development of the botanical garden and the shade house at the park. You should be in good health to sign up, since your general duties may include:
- Daily garden maintenance
- Raking, weeding, pruning, weed whacking
- Maintaining composting and mulching systems
- Irrigation of plants
- Carpentry and painting
- Assisting with building fences
- Repairing the shade house
- Carrying out plans for regenerating the garden
- Increasing the diversity of plants
- Developing sustainable ways of pest control
A two-month commitment is required, as well as good English skills and the ability to work as a team member. You’ll stay in a volunteer house with shared bedrooms, a full kitchen, laundry facilities, and wifi. Meals are not included, but you will be within walking distance of town and shops. Fees for this program are $525 for the first month and $275 for each additional month. Click here to learn more and to register.
Environmental Conservation Placement in Bali
Learn sustainable initiatives and permaculture technologies when you volunteer on an environmental conservation program with Global Nomadic in Ubud, Bali. This is a great opportunity for scientists and permaculture enthusiasts to learn innovative environmental strategies. You’ll also help the Balinese farming communities to improve standard practices and eliminate the use of harmful pesticides, non-biodegradable waste, and fertilizers.
Work with a proactive NGO to design and implement plans to reduce the impact on the beautiful Bali landscape. Do this by choosing among projects including the Permaculture Center, where you’ll tend to worms, help with weeding, and take part in training workshops that focus on helping farmers produce compost for their fields and sell the excess to nearby farms.
If you choose to work with the Mobile Rice Mill, you’ll learn about the impact that mills and organic rice intensification training are having in the region, and assist local staff in meeting with farmers, helping them to operate the machinery, record outputs, or resolve technical issues.
Micro-Infrastructure Construction and Maintenance is another project option, and it allows you to get involved in the construction of biogas, hydro-electric plants, wormeries, permaculture centers, and more. You will learn first-hand how to plan, design, and then build these modern, sustainable marvels.
Arrive at Denpasar International Airport and be escorted to the project headquarters for orientation. Accommodation with the project coordinator is included in the fee, or you can choose to rent a room. Fees for this program do not include meals, and start at $750 for the first month, with stays up to six months at $250 per month available. Learn more and apply here!
Frontier is a global organization that works in 60 countries with more than 400 capacity-building projects. Founded in 1989 as nonprofit conservation and development NGO, Frontier began by helping the World Wildlife Fund in Tanzania, creating the world’s first multi-user marine park, and establishing Frontier’s mission of safeguarding biodiversity and building sustainable endeavors. Frontier’s programs combine community development, ecosystem protection, and economic growth, with an emphasis on conserving endangered wildlife, and building livelihoods for under-resourced communities. If you’re considering an internship abroad, a volunteer project, gap year, or teaching abroad/TEFL program, Frontier gives you the ability to make a positive impact as you travel the world.
Teaching & Organic Farming in Laos
Combine two programs into one with a Frontier placement that invites you to teach English to school children and help at an organic farm, learning sustainable agricultural techniques and caring for baby animals. This is an excellent opportunity to gain experience and put your TEFL certificate to use. You’re going to love the welcoming you receive from the community and the new school that volunteers have built in the village. It’s been so successful, they’re expanding construction efforts into the community.
You’ll need to be a flexible, easygoing person to teach conversational English and the daily curriculum to children of all ages. Teaching takes about two hours per day, so the rest of your time will be spent on the farm, assisting with sales at the fruit shack, farming, sustainable building projects, and feeding baby goats and piglets.
Accommodation is in a homestay or volunteer house at the site. Meals are provided, but you’ll have to pay for your own transportation to the project. Arrive in the capital city, Vientiane, and catch a bus to the site. During weekends, explore the tropical forests and rugged mountains of Laos. In Luang Prabang, a World Heritage site, you can visit ancient monasteries and meet monks clothed in traditional ochre robes. Browse the street markets and revel in the aromas of exotic spices. In French-influenced Vientiane, take time to explore the gardens and sculptures at the temples and have dinner at a floating restaurant. Fees for this four-week, relaxed program are $1,695, with additional weeks costing $345 each. Click here to sign up!
Organic Farming & Reforestation in Ecuador
Volunteer on an organic farm and help with reforestation efforts in the beautiful northern Andes Mountains with Frontier. Home to diverse natural resources and amazing animals, Ecuador is a tiny country with a huge array of tropical wildlife and pristine habitats. Ecuador is a poor country that has been negatively impacted by global trends such as oil prices and the El Niño climate. Frontier is assisting in Ecuador, helping its residents to build skills in poor rural and urban communities, and fostering environmental amenities for ecotourism.
You’ll help to cultivate native trees, as well as help to develop sustainable agriculture projects, as an alternative to destructive industrial practices. Reforestation will help neutralize carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that leads to climate change. Your help is essential to the success of this project, and your daily tasks on this project include:
- Working in organic fruit and vegetable gardens
- Taking care of and managing animals (cows, pigs, llamas, guinea pigs)
- Assisting in the tree nursery
- Helping with reforestation
Fly into Quito, where Frontier staff will meet you and transfer you to the project location. You’ll stay in a comfortable, shared volunteer house at the farm, and meals are provided daily, based on freshly harvested, organic vegetables. Meet friendly neighbors at the market and visit Quito’s fascinating cafés, clubs, churches, and museums on days off. Relax on the white-sand beaches, hike through the steamy jungles, and explore the plains and spectacular mountains. This program requires a two-week commitment and fees start at $1,195. Additional weeks are available for $345. Learn more and register here!
Ready to Roll Up Your Sleeves?
If you have an interest in agriculture, permaculture, organic farming, or forestry, there are numerous global projects to choose from, each with an emphasis on sustainable techniques and greenhouse technology.
Gain insight into farming methods that work in rural areas, and how reforestation of the rainforests can help save a planet in peril. Learn how to live, and grow, in harmony with nature on a volunteer project this year!
Robin Van Auken · Writer
Robin is a researcher, writer, and a registered professional archaeologist, a skillset she uses every day as a cultural communication specialist with Hands-on Heritage. Her projects connect communities with an emphasis on interpretation and education and conserve cultural and environmental legacies.