Want to break free? Learn how to live sustainably and independently in Ecuador!
Ecuador is the first Latin American country worldwide to adopt a sustainability indicator within its national planning. According to the Global Footprint Network website, the ecological footprint of an average Ecuadorian is approximately 1.7 global hectares (gha) per person, lower than the global Ecological Footprint of 2.2 hectares per person and significantly lower than the United States, which currently accounts for 8.1 hectares per person. Despite having a relatively small surface, Ecuador is considered one of the richest countries in the world in regard to biodiversity and its ecosystems. Its privileged geographical position with the presence of the Andes mountain range, the Pacific coast, and the Amazon jungle all together allow for the existence of a great variety of forests and microclimates that give this country an immense variety of resources in order to supply the consumption needs of Ecuadorians as well as export its agricultural products to many other countries in the world. Currently, as the country is facing the health emergency, it is building a post-coronavirus agenda that includes relevant aspects such as climate change, the preservation of ecosystems and protected areas, in addition to the importance of international cooperation to manage resources that allow achieving sustainable development, a priority for the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment and Water.
If you are thinking of acquiring a property to live in a more natural, localized, and sustainable way, you should know that there are innumerable design proposals appropriate for a small lot, an acre plot, or a large tract of land of several hectares. As an example for how much one can produce from a small plot of land, the Dervaes family at The Urban Homestead, just 15 minutes away from Los Angeles, California, not only manages to feed themselves with quality and organic products from their 400-square-meter plot, but they also produce enough that they sell their surplus production reaching an income of $ 20,000 per year. Ecuador is a country rich in agricultural products with an increasing interest in organic farming, so you will always have a demand for organic vegetables near you. You can either sell your surplus, or buy quality products to supplement what you can’t grow, or you can even work out an old-fashioned exchange or barter of products with nearby farmers.
Ecuador defines in its constitution that access to water is a fundamental human right because it guarantees good living, known as "Sumak kawsay", an indigenous Andean concept of the ancestral worldview of life. The diversity of temperature and rain patterns results in a wide variety of crops and the tropical climate allows for harvest throughout the entire year. On the coast, the warm weather and fertile soils favor the production of coffee, bananas, sugar, cacao, rice, vegetables, watermelon, citrus, avocados, passion fruit, mangos, papaya, pineapple and a wide variety of tropical fruits. In the Andes mountains, you will find potatoes, corn, beans, wheat, pears, peaches, apples, berries, grapes, plums, flowers, asparagus, and peas. Important vegetable crops included garlic, onions, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli, and various types of melons and peppers. This country has four times more surface water than the world average country per capita, which is 50 liters per day. Due to its privileged geography, it is relatively easy to find a property with direct access to a water source, so you would not have to worry about controlled access or droughts.
Have you thought about venturing into permaculture, but not an expert yet? There are plenty of permaculture farms around the country offering courses to learn the ropes, like Río Muchacho, an ecological farm located north of Canoa, on the coast of Ecuador, with 25 years of experience in permaculture and self-sustaining agriculture (they also offer Spanish classes). Another authority on permaculture is the Sacred Sueños farm, an Andean mountain regeneration project located 7 km east Vilcabamba in the South of Ecuador, with 16 years of experience in the field using ecological principles to design regenerative agricultural systems, integrating several herbivore and insectivore species in order to create a thriving and growing agroecology. Both projects offer a variety of courses and are heavily involved in the local community. They also produce their own organic products and practice a combination of agroecology, permaculture, alternative energy, natural control of insect pests, and recycling.
Another simpler way of life is possible, more local, closer to nature, and more independent, which gives you the opportunity to focus on what is really important in life.