Ecological and Sustainable Living Internship
Building Community through Collaboration
Join us for an inspiring, fun, educational, and immersive internship at our regenerative farm and developing ecovillage in Costa Rica!
Learn while doing. Explore a permaculture lifestyle through working collaboratively to support a thriving, farm-based community. Engage in farm-to-table activities such as food processing, fermentation projects, and cooking community meals. Deepen your knowledge and connection with the land through growing and harvesting food. Share daily operations responsibilities in the areas of hospitality and maintenance. Engage in weekly group sessions to develop your team-building skills to apply in your future work environments. Grow from one-on-one check-ins to take a deeper look at your strengths and weaknesses working with others.
During your free time, relax in nature by going for a swim in our river, waterfall or spring-fed pool; walk jungle trails; enjoy a view of the scarlet macaw biological corridor from one of our beautiful vistas; do yoga or dance in our studio; make art; play music; or simply relax in a hammock with a good book from our farm library.
At VerdEnergia, interns experience the decision-making processes that farms, people and communities go through to create and live holistically healthy lifestyles. This means that we spend a lot of time in the kitchen, preparing farm-fresh and seasonal dishes to enjoy together! Interns learn to plan and prepare meals for groups, prepared from diverse ingredients, some of which they help grow and harvest themselves. Other aspects of a well-balanced lifestyle in this internship include opportunities to practice yoga and mindfulness, outdoor physical work, and relaxing time. These experiences provide interns, especially those coming from a university setting, with invaluable hands-on and real-life practice, which dramatically sets them apart from those emerging from only classroom settings.
Our program organizers teach skill sets that can be applied to any climate or place in the world and a diverse range of careers. Interns are encouraged to develop a personal project in an area of their interest that will benefit the community. Interns receive project management guidance and gain valuable experience in managing timelines, resources, and people. Our program emphasizes personal accountability and teamwork, with the purpose of building skills and experiences that will interest future employers.
Interns at VerdEnergia live as “farm to table” as possible. This means learning to cultivate, harvest, and prepare our own meals. In addition, there are opportunities to gain a range of horticultural and homesteading skills such as plant identification, nursery management, and food preservation. Verde staff manages three local agroforestry projects in conjunction with Blacksheep, our sister company, with a focus on the production of crops such as turmeric, cacao and tropical hardwoods. Having access to these agricultural projects and the experienced staff implementing them is a huge advantage for our interns.
VerdEnergia staff and guests follow the risk reduction protocols and practices mandated by the government of Costa Rica. Currently to enter the country, Costa Rica requires you provide either proof of Covid 19 vaccination or traveler's health insurance that covers Covid treatment
Please reference our Community Agreements page for more information about our COVID-19 policies.
- Gain experience living and working in a community setting
- Develop team building and leadership skills that are useful in a diverse range of situations
- Increase self-motivation, accountability and organizational practices
- Develop life skills (i.e. cooking, cleaning, gardening, food processing)
- Gain skills in effective communication, group facilitation and interpersonal dynamics
- Be in a place where you feel supported to explore your interests and share your ideas
- Learn about ecology and regenerative farming practices
Your Internship Experience Includes
- Weekly group and one-on-one check-ins with organizers
- Plant walks/harvest explorations of our diverse and developing farm & sister farms
- Garden bed preparation and tending of crops
- Plant and nursery propagation
- Discussions on topics such as Sustainability and Ecological Impact
- Farm-to-table food preparation (fermentation projects, cooking and cleaning up, food processing & preservation)
- Building and maintenance learning opportunities
Interdisciplinary Personal Projects
Interns explore a relevant subject of their choice by developing personal projects. This includes research, design, creating a timeline and proposal. They will have an opportunity to present their project to organizers and staff. This allows them to gain direct experience in project development from an early research stage all the way to the final proposal.
Another project option to cultivate self-motivation, leadership and skill development is to hold a primary responsibility in an integral farm or community function. Examples may include nursery management, community outreach, media, recycling, waste and compost management, green building, and renewable energy. Opportunities do depend on time of year and current farm projects.
Who is this experience for?
This experience is a good match for those who do well sharing space with a group of people, enjoy contributing to a team, and are ready for a quiet rural lifestyle with time to focus on themselves. It’s a great match for people who want to hone their team building skills. We offer flexibility for different levels of physical activity. Anyone 18+ is welcome.
VerdEnergia is located in a small rural community in the remote mountains of the Pacific slope of Costa Rica. It is home to an ever-fluctuating mix of guests, interns, staff and community members. There will be times where our farm might only have two or more members on site, and times where we will be bustling with activity! We believe in social cooperation and celebrating diverse ways of living and viewpoints across various cultures. As an intern, you have an important role to take part in the creation of the community feeling at the farm. A few notes:
- Community living is integral to our daily operations, and we rely on collaboration and good communication to function as a group.
- Interns should be comfortable living and working together as well as contributing to farm upkeep.
- Each member of the farm staff and community has a different job and responsibilities, but we all do our best to work together as a cohesive group.
- Our climate is very hot and humid in the main part of the day with occasional hard rains.
- There is usually enough internet bandwidth to send emails and whatsapp messages, and not much more.
- Anyone in the community is welcome to offer guided activities such as yoga, breathwork, meditation, dance and movement workshops, etc.
Participation in the following is required:
- Support cook and clean shifts for community meals
- Basic tidying of the common spaces and shared sleeping space
- Participate in any meetings or cleaning parties scheduled by our program organizers
Monday through Friday we begin projects early during the coolest time of the day. Saturday and Sunday are days off from internship projects, though everyone still contributes to community meals. Interns may choose to take a couple long weekend trips to explore Costa Rica’s incredible natural and cultural diversity. Any trip off the property is not part of our program; you will pay for your own expenses off-site.
What to Bring
You will need a few items with you for safety and to help you make the most of your experience:
- Bright flashlight or headlamp with rechargeable batteries or USB
- Biodegradable soap and personal hygiene products
- Quick-dry towel or sarong
- Lightweight clothing suitable for the tropics (including long sleeves & pants)
- Sturdy shoes (There is a place to buy rubber boots in town - or you can bring your own)
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions and Community Agreements pages for more information about what to bring and what to expect. We will also send you a more detailed What to Bring list once you are registered.
Christopher Makoto Garrison (He/Him)
Chris joined the VerdEnergia team in 2010. Since then, he designed and built a house at Verde with his wife, Marie, using various building techniques including bamboo, geotextile, natural building and carpentry. Chris entered the world of permaculture in 2003 at Lost Valley Educational Center, earning his Permaculture Design Certificate in 2016, and has been applying what he learned to his life ever since. In 2021, he earned his Aerie Wilderness First Responder Certificate. During his 17+ years of living in communities, he has taught personal growth workshops, shared community building tools, mediated conflicts and facilitated meetings. Chris finds cultivating strong relationships with compassionate communication a key to sharing a cooperative way of life with others. He and Marie are committed to building relationships within Lanas, VerdEnergia's local community.
Chris is inspired to share his knowledge and love for healthy, high-quality food. He is known for his absolutely delicious creations in the VerdEnergia kitchen using ingredients off the farm. In the United States, Chris worked for the vegan ice cream company, Coconut Bliss, for 13 years. His numerous roles there included: production manager, sales manager, marketing events manager, quality assurance manager, demo coordinator and research & development. Chris also worked in the restaurant industry for 16 years; he managed the front-of-the-house in fine dining restaurants and worked for 8 years as a sushi chef. He has been the head chef at large events at VerdEnergia and Burning Man.
Marie Laura Roehrich (She/Her)
When Marie first visited Verde in 2010, she fell in love with the land and found inspiration learning about the medicinal and local plants. That same year, she & Chris led a workshop called Conscious Connections for the VerdEnergia community. Together they continued to offer relationship deepening opportunities to groups in Oregon. From a young age, she has deeply cared about our impact on planetary and human ecosystems. She has been on multiple leadership teams with growth oriented groups, such as Heart of Now and Liberation Listening. After many years experience in community settings and relationship building, Marie can listen with compassion and guide others to develop greater self-awareness, interpersonal and team skills.
Marie earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Masters in Social Work. With 17 years experience in social services, Marie has served in a variety of settings, such as domestic violence shelters, youth programs and mental health clinics. Most recently, she worked with Community Supported Shelters in Eugene, Oregon, as a camp facilitator and service navigator for unhoused folks seeking resources, community and care. Being on many teams, she has witnessed the importance of collaboration, creating clear organizational systems and communicating well. A white cisgender woman born middle class in the United States, she is committed to the ongoing work of deconstructing power and privilege.
Included in your stay is a bed in our shared dormitories. These freshly renovated spaces are comfortable, bright, and open-air; with mosquito nets, ceiling fans and bunk beds. We provide a pillow, sheets and a light blanket. Camping is an option if you want more privacy during certain times of the year (costs are the same), but you will need to bring your own gear and bedding. Please check with us before planning to camp. We also have limited upgrades to our fully furnished, open-air private rooms for an additional cost.
Your stay includes all of your meals on site. We are proud to highlight traditional Costa Rican cuisine with a few twists and eat farm-to-table as much as possible. We rotate cooking responsibilities using food that we've grown on our own farm or purchased locally, with a preference for high quality organic.
All of our animal products come from locally raised, pastured animals. Reasonable accommodation for vegetarians, vegans and those with food allergies can be made. Please indicate your needs in your application and upon your arrival.
Transportation & Travel
We are in a remote location that requires you to coordinate your arrival with the team onsite. Transportation on and off the farm must be arranged in advance and isn't included in your program costs. Please note that we are about a 2.5 hour drive from the SJO Airport.
People that come for longer stays often choose to take trips away from Verde to explore Costa Rica and its incredible natural and cultural diversity. It should be understood that any trip off the farm is separate from our program; you would pay for your own expenses off site. And because we have an ever-fluctuating number of guests, students, interns and visitors, we can’t guarantee your accommodations here will be the same upon your return.
Pricing & Timeline
In addition to the cost of the program, interns are responsible for buying/bringing personal supplies like flashlights, work gloves, boots, etc. Interns are also responsible for the costs of personal transportation to and from the farm, as well as housing and food when off site. Please take note of our refund policies and our Frequently Asked Questions.
- We offer our program for $800/month.
- This all-inclusive experience includes lodging in our shared dormitories, meals, and staff facilitation.
- We ask that visitors plan to be on-site for at least 3 months to be considered for this program. If you are seeking an internship for school credit and require an adjusted (longer) timeline, we are happy to discuss accommodation.
- Upgrades to private rooms are +$30/night
- Interns for our January-April program are offered a discounted rate for our Permaculture Design Course of +$600
If you can, please give an additional amount to our scholarship program. Scholarships allow people to attend who would not otherwise be able to and benefits everyone from an increase in diversity of experiences. The suggested scholarship contribution is on a sliding scale of $50-$400.
As a community that values equality and diversity, we offer the ability to apply for partial or full scholarships, and we give preference to candidates from the following categories. Please contact us for more information!
Costa Rican citizens who intend to use what they learn in our course to help Costa Rica’s environment and people.
Environmental and Community Building Activists or Grassroots Organizers, especially those working in the Global South and/or with marginalized communities.
Applicants that are from historically marginalized groups, such as indigenous/First Nations peoples and people of color.
Applicants with a particularly compelling reason why they will add something special to the group, as well as financial need.
With the principles of Permaculture as our guiding tool, we seek to transmute the challenges facing our communities into replicable solutions. Our work enables us to find right livelihood through the regeneration and gentle cultivation of the forest we are honored to call home.