Ecuador – Food Revolutions

From its iconic capital of Quito to rural communities in Ecuador’s highlands and Pacific slope, Operation Groundswell's “Food Revolutions” program examines the pressures of the global food system on rural and Indigenous livelihoods, and the various ways Ecuadorian communities are pushing back. Starting in the hustle and bustle of the big city, we’ll explore urban agriculture before heading out into the Altiplano and down to Santo Domingo de las Tsachilas for lessons in sustainable living and cultural revindication. We’ll interact with permaculture and pastoralism. We’ll break bread and share stories with farmers, educators, and activists who are fighting for food sovereignty. We’ll make compost with Alfredo and the FBU, grow food forests with our friends in Bua, and taste farm fresh honey with Gabee at Bee Farm Shunku. We’ll traverse a diverse landscape and see how Ecuador is a growing food revolution.

UN Sustainable Development Goal 2 - Zero Hunger UN Sustainable Development Goal 10 - Reduced Inequalities UN Sustainable Development Goal 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities




Community Partners

Operation Groundswell

Dates of Travel

Friday February 14, 2020 – Saturday February 22, 2020 

*Please note your flight does not leave Toronto untill 11:15pm Friday Febuary 14, 2020. The bus will leave Western around 6:00pm. 

Participant Numbers

  • 7 Student Participants
  • 1 Student Team Leader
  • 2 Team Leaders
  • *Note: this experience can accommodate up to 14 participants (including team leaders), assuming airline seats are available; however, this may mean additional participants pay an increased fee (based on new flight prices).


  • Hike in the shadow of Volcán Corazón in the heart of the Andes and taste highland honey with our partners at Bee Farm Shunku.
  • Connect with local farmers at Fundación Brethren y Unida (FBU) to get the dirt on organic farming and how indigenous knowledge is inspiring sustainable agriculture.
  • Immerse yourself in Tsa’chila culture and grow change by cultivating a food forest with local activists near Santo Domingo on Ecuador’s Pacific Slope.
  • Explore Ecuador’s iconic capital of Quito while sampling some sweet canelazo along La Ronda, learning the language with Yanapuma Spanish School, and giving salsa dancing a whirl!

Learning Outcomes

At the end of your Impact Experience you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to explore ideas, issues, and global systems from viewpoints other than your own, through reflective practice, group discussions and program activities
  • Work under conditions of ambiguity or uncertainty by engaging with community partners, community members and working as a team
  • Demonstrate an understanding of intercultural competence, sensitivity and humility by completing pre-departure workshops, activities in OWL and the Reflective Practice Workbook, and engaging in the 1-2 week community-based experience
  • Identify the pressures that the global food system has on the rural and Indigenous livelihoods of Ecuadorian communities and become further aware of how they are pushing back
  • Compare and contrast urban life in Ecuador with rural life, and describe how sustainable living is embraced
  • Appreciate Ecuadorian food system and structures, and make comparisons to Canadian food system and structures

Ideal Participant

This experience does involve hiking and some physical activity. Your team will be exposed to local Ecuadorian accommodations. If you are curious, energetic, and open-minded, this is a great opportunity for you. Students who are flexible, adventurous, and want to engage in ethical learning outside of the classroom are a good fit for this experience.


Total cost (subject to change) – $3,400 CAD

Costs include:

  • Flight
  • Registration and programs fees with Operation Groundswell
  • Contribution to the project and comprehensive on-site support
  • Insurance (health, flight cancellation, baggage)
  • Transportation to/from airport
  • Transportation in Ecuador
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Administrative Fee (buff, team leader contribution, journal)

Note: Impact Experience participants will be responsible for any luggage costs assigned by individual airlines, airport tax, souvenirs, or additional food/snacks during the trip.

Preliminary Itinerary

Day 1-3 (Orientation in Quito)

Your program starts in Ecuador’s cosmopolitan capital of Quito. Following pickup from Mariscal Sucre International Airport, you’ll get settled in the city’s “centro historico” and get acclimatized to the sights, sounds, and smells of the region. You’ll learn the lingo with the Yanapuma Spanish School, an incredible social enterprise that also works to promote education and community-based development in Ecuador. After class, you will scavenge the local markets, taste sweet canelazo, chow down on delicious patacones, and maybe take a salsa lesson or two.

You will also begin to explore the fight for food justice at its roots with Yachai Wasi, an Indigenous school in Quito that uses urban agriculture to promote traditional knowledge and practices. Get ready to unpack Ecuador’s colonial history and see where culture, ecology, and cuisine all come together!


DAY 3-5 (Perma’culture Tabacundo)

Next, you’ll take a quick bus ride north to the town of Tabacundo. You will work alongside la Fundación Brethren y Unidad on a 20-hectare hacienda and get the dirt on organic farming and agro-ecology. The FBU has been a leader in community-based development and sustainable food production since the 1970s. They’ll definitely have a thing or two to teach us in their large vegetable garden, blackberry plantation, tree nursery, and animal pastures. Plus, we’ll get the chance to eat delicious food and learn how these projects reflect a unique form of resistance and cultural revindication for Indigenous communities in Ecuador.


DAY 5-7 (Food Forests Santo Domingo)

About a four-hour bus ride from Quito is the province of Santo Domingo on Ecuador’s pacific slope. We’ll spend our time here reconnecting with our friends at the Yanapuma Foundation to learn about the power of permaculture. This group of Indigenous Tsa´chila are working to preserve their cultural heritage through small-scale community tourism and sustainable agriculture. We’ll get back to the basics as we stay with local families, eat hearty home-cooked meals, and continue to get our hands dirty. We’ll taste cacao fresh out of the pod and learn to grow a food forest – literally a forest of food! This is our opportunity to exercise our inner farmers and really immerse ourselves in Tsa’chila culture!


DAY 7-8 (Disorientation Machachi)

After another bus ride or two, we’ll pay a visit to a little-known family farm named Shunku. This husband-wife team have dedicated themselves to saving Ecuador’s bees and to preserving its once pristine highland forests. In their kind company, we’ll kick back, relax, and reacclimatize to the highlands. When we’re not reading a book or writing in our journals, we’ll play in the dirt, grow some veggies, plant some trees, or even join Gabriela in the apiary to learn how to make that delicious sticky syrup called honey. We’ll stay in a rustic farmhouse, fire our own pizza, and talk conservation in the heart of Ecuador’s highland wilderness.

Day 9 (Departure)

After regrouping to look back on our accomplishments, and talking about how we can continue to make change at home, we’ll head back to Quito where our adventure started. Then we’re off to the airport for our hug-filled goodbyes!

PLEASE NOTE: Itinerary is draft, and subject to change at any point in time.


Operation Groundswell coordinates appropriate accommodations that reflect the atmosphere of the region. They do this by working closely with guesthouses, hotels, and homestays to ensure that they are adequately safe and hygienic.


All group meals during the program are included, and participants will be responsible for any personal snacks. See the preliminary itinerary above for descriptions of food.

Need to Know

  • This experience does not involve travel through the USA.
  • You are responsible for ensuring that you have the required travel documents and travel visas necessary to participate in the experience.
  • If you require disability-related accommodation, or have other special considerations, we encourage you to contact us before applying. We may require further information to determine how we can best meet your accommodation needs.