Organic Life, Rio Muchacho Farm

Do you dream of having your own farm in a secluded place, surrounded by nature and live off what the earth provides you? Dario Proaño-Leroux and Nicola Mears fulfilled that dream. They are the owners of the agro-ecological farm Rio Muchacho located half an hour from Canoa, amid the dense vegetation of the area.

Their key to achieving this has been a profound knowledge of the land and the conviction that growing their own food was healthy for them and their family. While studying agriculture in New Zealand, Nicola was shocked to find that the growth of a single apple depended on more than 50 chemicals. For her, all of them were poison.

The day starts early here, just after sunrise. Foreign and local volunteers gather to feed cows, horses, pigs, guinea pigs, chickens and even worms. In turn they produce the essential material with which they will then feed the soil. The dung is the key to feeding the Earth.

For them this is no joke. The feeding of what will later feed them is serious business for them. Their understanding of the process of nature is such that they want to pay tribute to dung with a monument (The last we heard this idea was still under debate).

While working, they show us how everything at Finca Rio Muchacho is part of a process. Horse leftovers will go to the for guinea pigs, and then to the pigs. Dung of the latter is stored to generate fire with methane and use it as energy. Nevertheless the most efficient producers of fertilizer are worms; they are the ones that give the best quality fertilizer.

Animal breakfast ends with the sound of a bell that announces the beginning of ours. In a simple dining room we all come together to share a complete breakfast with everything you need for a heavy morning's work. Granola, fruit, and fresh bread baked in their own oven, everything is natural. Even the dishes and the cutlery used are made by them with ‘mate’ fruit and mud. And even though they're homemade, these dishes would be beautiful in any home.

After breakfast, volunteers meet with Nicola and Dario to plan the day that lies ahead.The commitment of each one of them is astounding. Everyone is assigned clear tasks that need to be accomplished. They are a group of volunteers devoted to the earth.

This morning we will harvest coffee. We all walk together to the fields to collect the tiny grains and as we do we talk and they tell us their stories.

Stefy is from Guayaquil and studied design abroad, however today she is at this place collaborating with everyday tasks. Her face reflects the happiness brought by using your hands to pick a fruit and not to move a mouse. For Stefy this experience is much richer than being behind a computer. Surrounded by nature, with the smell of fresh air and the singing of the birds we can understand why.

Celine is a volunteer from Germany. She is enjoying the best experiences of her life previous to immersing herself in college. She is totally convinced that organic agronomy will be her profession. We agree.

Morning passes quickly as we speak and we get to know each other. Our job ends when the bell rings again and we head to lunch. The delightful breakfast experience is replicated as everyone talks and shares stories. Once we have finished, a rotating spoon made with ‘mate’ chooses who will wash the dishes today.

David, one of the most senior volunteers explains how the dishwashing they have created works to make the most of every drop of water. Not a drop is wasted since a channel leads the excess water directly towards a banana plant.

In addition he tells us a little more about the farm and the vision of Nicola and Dario.


Part of what they offer here are workshops to help all the concerned to be closer to the earth and to have a more sustainable way of life. Permaculture is the most widely taught philosophy. This basically mimics the way that nature works because, well, it’s the natural way. Here you won’t find virtually any monoculture; in one place there are different plants that will help each other grow. They even have a list consisting of types of plants that must be planted together to ensure organic growth.

For them this kind of knowledge is as important as learning to multiply or read. They call it meaningful learning.

In the afternoon volunteers divide and do more "free" activities. A Californian grabs her camera and works on her documentary project as Celine from Germany works clay to create new dishes.

When night falls the group invites us to a campfire. When you stop and think about it , its amazing that nowadays you can still be around a campfire in the woods, a river running besides you and total darkness is only illuminated by fire and fireflies.

So if your dream is to have your own farm in a secluded place surrounded by nature and live from what the earth provides you, learning from Finca Rio Muchacho is a good start.