AMP Spring Retreat and Workshop at MendoDragon

The date is set for March 24th and 25th. The weekend will include a community presentation and fundraising event, a public workshop on mushroom cultivation using brewery waste, and a planning retreat for AMP members. Contact us if you are interested in presenting and/or volunteering.

Volunteers, city gov., native shrooms here we go!

Hola Amigos,

Activities are marching right along in Mindo. We currently have 2 volunteers, 2 more arrive on Monday, another on Friday and more later in the month. We are reorganizing the mushroom cultivation to try and reduce the infestation from insects and other slimy, fuzzy pests. My personal opinion is that we should not do bags and just do logs. We'll see what our group of minds can come up with in the next couple of months.

We have harvested and dried 2 gallons of reishi and eat shitake and oysters daily.  Now that the rainy season is here there are 'shrooms popping out everywhere. We are trying to identify, photograph and catalog what we find and culture what might be good food or medicine. Today the volunteers Katie and Stephen are attempting to culture native reishi and oyster.  

Other developments onsite include 30 quail newly laying eggs. We are starting to sell/gift plants from the nursery and are looking to expand the plant cultivation.

I have been doing more community outreach and we are making some inroads with the local government so that volunteers can also be placed with the municipality, the child care facility and new tech lab. There is a wildlife rescue center that we look forward to supporting with volunteer energy too. We have arranged a number of homestay partnerships with local families for those who choose that option.

Now a big effort in advertising must begin and I am looking at connecting more with Spanish schools and other programs that bring volunteers to Ecuador. I continue updating the website and hope that I'll be able to bring in an intern/volunteer that can help with the admin/PR side of things.

Now that we have wifi here at the facility I hope to blogg more often, please consider subscribing and I'd enjoy your feedback.

Love and light in 2012!

Freeda Alida Burnstad

2011 AMP/CFI Review, 2012 Plans

The 2011 AMP/CFI Service Learning course was our best attended program yet. The 8 day trip marked the fourth program to Ecuador since AMP's first experiment in 2007. 8 students and 5 interns were coordinated by Joanna Zlotnik and Freeda Burnstad. Teaching was led by Mia Maltz, guest presenters from the U.S. Bob Rawson and Monica Neff greatly added to the program as did Ecuadorian team members and presenters Ricardo Viteri  of Quito and Donald Moncoya of Lago Agrio.

6 of the students
continued their Service Learning experience with two more classes offered by CFI. The courses took students to the coast to work with Planet Drum and into the Cloud Forest wilderness with the Cambugan Foundation during 22 more days led by Freeda Burnstad and Cristian Vaca.

The 2011 program was the first to base out of the Cloud Forest Institute BioUniversidad in Mindo and inaugurated the newly created MindoDragon Medicinal Mushroom Project and volunteer program. Student Katie Grenell stayed on for five more months as the first volunteer of this new year-round program, continuing experiments started during the course, maintaining and improving the medicinal and edible mushroom cultivation and organic vegetable gardens. Craig Spahr another 2011 course alumni returned to the states to acquire a two year volunteer visa and will return as a long-term volunteer in January 2012. More volunteers are scheduled to arrive in December and January. Those interested in volunteering with CFI are welcome year round, room and board cost $400 per month, see the CFI website for more details.

CFI is currently scheduling the 2012 summer course schedule. In addition to an extended myco program in Mindo featuring separate sections in Cultivation, Remediation, and Oil Politics there may be an expanded program with a community of
Secoya near Lago Agrio. If AMP can ride this wave of momentum to our next goal of acquiring a permanent experiment site in the Oriente by summer time then a portion of the 2012 program will surely include a bioassay of the new site.

Other courses being scheduled at Cloud Forest Institute BioUniversidad in Mindo include a Yoga, Birdwatching and Spanish Language Volunteer retreat, an Earthen Building course, a course in Water Harvest, Storage, and Greywater systems, An introductory course in Ornithology and a 2 week Permaculture Certification Course. CFI is also supporting friend Anank to promote a plant spirit journey into Shuar territory and collaborating with partner Fundacion Cambugan for another wilderness expedition. The summer schedule will be posted online at the CFI website in January 2012. We look forward to you joining us for some of the excitement in Ecuador 2012, the beginning of our bright new future.