Posts Tagged ‘organic farming’

Can Agritourism Save Small-scale Farming?

This article originally appeared on The Travel Word. To view, click here. September, 2012.

agritourism-benefits-harvest-in-Lijiang-China-450x337Agritourism is great fun for travellers. It’s a chance to experience rural life in a new place and get in touch with local people. It’s a way to reconnect with your food sources and return to the roots of production. In some cases, it’s an opportunity to get your hands dirty and pick your own fresh produce.

For those who are still not convinced that a farm tour or farm stay is for them, there’s another side of the story – the supply side. Agritourism brings great benefits to small-scale farmers all over the world. Researchers and policymakers hail this eco-friendly form of tourism as a useful tool for rural development.

Here are three ways that agritourism helps small-scale farmers sustain themselves.

To keep reading, click here. September, 2012.


09 2012

Fair Trade Coffee Tours in Guatemala

by Jen Mathis

Coffee is one of the most traded commodities in the world, second only to oil. The only place where coffee will grow is in the “bean belt”, which is the area between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. In this zone, coffee growers have created tours where you can go to see exactly where the world’s favorite drink comes from, places that embody “fair trade” values and bring the label to life. Following are three very popular coffee tours in Guatemala that you should consider if you would like to plan one of these trips.

gunyah fair trade coffee tour

Cultural Antigua and Fair Trade Coffe Tour, Guatemala. Photo courtesy of

Cultural Antigua and Fair Trade Coffee Discovery

Antigua is a top destinations in Latin America, rich in tradition and culture. On a trip to this historic city, you can take a Cultural Antigua and Fair Trade Coffee Discovery tour. Learn about its colonial past and experience their fair trade coffee industry while visiting some of their independent coffee farmers. you could spend 3 days and 2 nights exploring this incredible environment.

On this trip, you will stay in at the Earth Lodge hotel 20 minutes away from Antigua. Your first day is reserved for your travel and to let you relax and enjoy the beautiful views of the volcanoes that surround the city. On day two, you will tour the streets of Antigua for half of the day, visiting the Cathedral Museum, The Capuchins Convent, La Merced Museum, and the Colonial art Museum. All entrance fees are included as well as your breakfast. After four hours of touring with an English speaking guide, you will have the rest of the afternoon to relax and explore. Day three is the fair trade coffee tour. You will get to interact with the local independent coffee farmers while you learn how to pick, process, and roast your own coffee.

coffee tour nueva alianza guatemala

Nueva Alianza coffe tour, Guatemala

Nueva Alianza

If you’re in Xela and the western highlands of Guatemala, don’t miss a coffee tour at Nueva Alianza. This organic coffee and macadamia plantation is owned and operated together by forty Guatemalan families and is located about 45 minutes north of Retalhuleu. On this 300 acre plantation, you will see natural tropical forests, waterfalls with crystal clear water, and a gorgeous view of the volcanoes Santa Maria and Santiaguito. (Santiaguito is an active volcano that erupts every hour, on average.) When you visit this plantation, you will hear about their struggles and triumphs, and experience so much more.

Currently, the families on this plantation are participating in many projects in order to generate income.

1. They grow, maintain, and process organic coffee and macadamia nuts.

2. They offer attractions for tourists, including hikes, tours of the community, and educational opportunities to learn about their coffee processing plants.

3. They are using environmentally sustainable tools to help them bring energy to their homes, office, and some of their processing plants. They are also making biodiesel on their plantation to operate their diesel generator and diesel trucks.

4. They are selling the purified water from the natural springs in their community to the nearby towns and cities.

5. Finally, they make bamboo furniture and other arts and crafts, including necklaces, rosaries, and other bamboo souvenirs, to sell for a profit.

Tours of this plantation can be provided when you contact various tour operators in the area or by contacting the plantation directly. (English translation is available only with advance notice.) You could take a weekend tour, which includes hiking, tours of the plants, and meals at a lodge where you will stay. If you would rather take on the experience on your own, you could inquire about their other tours. Highlights of the itinerary include:

  • Tour all of the community projects – This one hour tour will allow you to see the processing plant, including a detailed explanation of how they turn the raw product into the coffee we drink. The tour also includes a tour of their other projects (macadamia processing, micro hydroelectric plant, biodiesel workshop, water purification system, and bamboo furniture workshop).
  • History talk – Learn about the history of the community’s struggle to get their legal title to the land.
  • Nature hike – Walk through the plantation and tropical forest and learn about their coffee, macadamia, and local medical plants.
  • Waterfall hike – Walk through the tropical forest to a beautiful waterfall, and spend some time relaxing, swimming, and enjoying the experience.


coffee harvesting, guatemala

Guatemalan woman harvesting coffee. Photo courtesy of flickr/deCadmus

Los Tarrales Reserve

Finally, experience a sustainable tourism coffee tour in the Los Tarrales Reserve, located in the breathtakingly scenic Lake Atitlan area of western Guatemala. It produces highland Arabic coffee, which is one of the most aromatic types of coffee grown today. After they pick the beans, seven steps must be passed in order to get their beans ready to export. On your guided tour, you will be able to see all of the steps they take to produce their coffee. Whenever you decide to visit, you will be able to see some fruit on the coffee trees, but the best time, they say will be in November.

This reserve is run by 60 families who all live in the protected area. They sustain the reserve with the production of coffee and ornamentals as well as with their tourism service. They employ many young guides will be able to explain the coffee and ornamentals production as well as the reserve’s wildlife. You could explore this reserve for days, finding new adventures around every corner. You can also enjoy meals prepared with fresh ingredients from the local market.

The culture in this country is sure to provide an experience like any other. Whichever trip you choose, you are sure to experience more than just a tour.

Jen Mathis is an author who writes guest posts on the topics of business, credit cards, and personal finance. Additionally, she works for a website that focuses on educating readers about credit cards for fair credit.


11 2011

Contribution of Volunteer Tourism to Organic Farms: An analysis of the WWOOF exchange in Canada

This research paper was first published on  To see the original post, click here.  September, 2010.

Abstract: WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunites on Organic Farms) is a non-commercial network of organizations that facilitate volunteer work on organic farms all over the world. This study demonstrates that volunteers can contribute valuable labor, among other benefits, to their host farm destinations. The study uses data from volunteer and host farm applications to the WWOOF Canada organization, as well as a survey delivered to the host farms. The results find that this non-commercial volunteer exchange is a form of tourism, and that it overlaps to a certain extent with more commercial tourism activity. The contribution of volunteer tourists to organic farms as human resources is an example of a symbiotic relationship or synergy between tourism and environmental projects.

volunteer tourism on an organic farm

Keywords: volunteer tourism, farm tourism, organic farming, host perceptions, synergy, WWOOF

Introduction and literature review

Recent trends indicate that a more conscious tourist has emerged who considers environmental issues when making travel-related decisions. Conscious tourists seek an experience with lesser environmental impact and even the opportunity to contribute time and work to environmental efforts. This raises many interesting questions about the positive impacts of tourism that reach beyond consumerism. Can volunteer tourists, for example, really contribute labor in a meaningful way?

This research focuses on volunteer tourism on organic farms through a well-established association of organizations known as WWOOF (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms). The purpose of this research is to situate WWOOF within the context of volunteer tourism, farm tourism, and organic farming. Data taken from an online survey of host farms in Canada, as well as information from a database of both volunteer and host farm applications, is analyzed using qualitative methodology to gauge the perceived contribution of WWOOF volunteer labor to the organic farm hosts, and likewise the contribution of more commercial farm tourism on the same organic farms.

The paper is organized in four parts. This introduction and literature review will compile the current knowledge about WWOOF and its relationship to farm tourism, volunteer tourism, and organic farming. The methodology section will describe the research process, the results section will exhibit the study’s findings, and the fourth section will cover discussion.

To see the complete paper, go to the site of original publication on here.


11 2010