Rio Muchacho is an Ecuadorian farm that practices permaculture, an approach based on the principles underlying the delicate balance of an ecosystem, and the adoption of these principles to human activities. In other words, it is agricultural sustainability at its best, as human activities do not harm, but benefit the ecosystem. Needless to say, this requires longitudinal research, along with a deep understanding of all the elements in the system and how these interact and influence one another.
This is not so much a farm to visit, but a farm to experience. Making chocolate or cheese is an interesting project, but at Rio Muchacho the work goes deeper, as you collect cacao fruit from the tree and milk the cow for the milk, and along the way, all sorts of useful information is shared by staff about how to plant and when to harvest the cacao tree, or what kind of adventures the cow has been through. It’s educational, but also grounded in the everyday reality of a farming community, where the line between useful information and amusing anecdotes is blurred.
Among the mind-blowing range of topics you can investigate from a theoretical and practical level are soil regeneration, moisture preservation, mulch gardening, biodynamic gardening, liquid fertilizers, composting, bocashi, organic pesticides, gray water systems, and the importance of moon phases in agriculture.
All animals on the farm, including guinea pigs, serve a purpose, in the sense that all species produce manure with a specific chemical makeup. Fertilizing gardens means optimizing the plants’ output, but also feeding the soil so that the plant does not deplete its useful chemical elements. And, of course, the phase of the moon matters in fertilizing as well.
At Rio Muchacho, the principles of permaculture also extend to the buildings, all made using locally found materials, as well as to its plates, cups, bowls, and cooking utensils.
Know Before You Go
Rio Muchacho is 15 minutes from Canoa, a beach-destination on the coast.