Project Bona Fide

Project Bona Fide


Project Bona Fide (PBF), a non-profit organization and NGO, is a demonstrative permaculture site and experience-based learning center that utilizes permaculture design, agroforestry, research & education, and community collaboration to promote food security on Isla de Ometepe in southwest Nicaragua.Our vision is to educate and expose people to the possibilities of multi-strata food production through demonstrative agriculture on our 26-acre model farm, Finca Bona Fide.



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No, I don't recommend this program

As someone who has worked on multiple permaculture farms, I was very excited to see this one in person and signed on as a volunteer. However, I quickly found that the leadership was unable to effectively manage the site and the people. The work I did for them in exchange for food and housing was unrelated to permaculture and I learned nothing from my stay. I was used as free labor and received little in exchange. Having paid for this experience and not received what I was promised in return, I would not recommend this program. That being said, if you know nothing about permaculture or are only looking to stay for a few days, you'll probably like it.

Response from Project Bona Fide

Hey Olivia! Thank you for your feedback. Olivia came to Project Bona Fide for a marketing work-trade commitment for 3 months. There were multiple conversations and a signed letter of agreement detailing the nature of the agreement which was a generous discount on food and lodging in exchange for additional marketing & communications work for the project. Olivia decided not to participate in our plant internship program, which is an intensive educational experience led by a professional team of educators and staff. Instead she opted for a discounted work-trade and was thoroughly briefed on what the commitment entailed. We offered numerous learning opportunities in the field and workshops related to permaculture to Olivia in exchange for her hard work that were often refused. Olivia terminated her commitment to the organization one month before the agreed upon length of stay and has since threatened to leave negative reviews on all of our partner sites. We greatly appreciated the work she did while at the farm and enjoyed the experience of learning from her skill set in graphic design and marketing. We ask volunteers and interns applying to our programs to be clear and open in their communication regarding their expectations from our site and their learning objectives so that we can best fulfill their needs. We are a 15-year old experiential education center that encourages individuals of all backgrounds to join our team of dedicated staff to learn from our site, strengthen our communities, preserve biodiversity, and build a better future.

Yes, I recommend this program

Three months as the herbal medicine intern and I have nothing but love and fond memories of Bonafide! From the moment I climbed up the hill on my first day I was greeted with a warm hug from Sabrina, the manager of the farm, aka "farm mom". Instantly I felt like a part of the group as everyone was so welcoming and nice. It can be an adjustment to living rurally (especially if you came straight from NYC like me) but with all the support it was a really fun experience that taught me a lot about myself and the way I want to live. Bonafide has such a strong community both within but also has close ties with all the locals in town which is what makes it special. I left with some really close friends that I still keep in touch with and a million memories. I've noticed this farm in particular attracts a certain quality of volunteer that sets it apart from other places. I've met so many smart, engaging, people who are really passionate about learning and have brought some different interests to the table to share with the group.

As herbal medicine intern, my experience at Bonafide was a little more unique. I got the pleasure of working with the naturopathic doctor on the island, Dawson, once a week to help with clinic duties and brainstorm how to get more herbs to the clinic to treat patients. It was a really valuable experience to get 1:1 time to ask him a million questions about health and herbs. I also got to travel up to the north of Nicaragua to Estelli to document useful info from another farm that has a really great system for processing herbs into medicine.

Along with my herbal medicine duties, our regular farm work taught me things I didn't expect. We learned about soil, composting, mulching, swales, etc. Bonafide has such a talented and smart staff that explain everything to you. They know about all the exotic species around and are more than happy to explain things to you. Also great way to improve your Spanish!

I think my biggest takeaway, and please note this may just be my own perspective as someone going into the health field, is that Bonafide provides you with a lot of the key things missing from the western lifestyle. There you wake up with the sun, moving your body all day, outside in sunlight, eating unprocessed fresh foods, having a supportive community, going to bed early, limited electronics time, etc. All things that are strongly lacking in western culture and hard to break away from. It took me experiencing it to realize how simple optimal health is, and it doesn't come from a new app, or gadget or gym class but just an understanding and the environment to support what our bodies are built for.

Anyways could ramble all day, but I really cherish my time at Bonafide and I think about it all the time! Love the people, the food, the experiences, and mostly the farm pups !

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Yes, I recommend this program

I was at Bona Fide for a little over three months, took their permaculture design course when I first got there, and interned for the rest of my time. The experience was nothing short of enlightening for me. I learned more about the relationship between soil, plants, animals, human involvement, and food systems that I imagined ever, let alone STILL, existed. Albeit, I had about average knowledge of the natural world upon arrival, so I knew next to nothing. And I'm a super outdoorsy, and apparently over confident guy, because I was weary for a bit when I arrived. As I got more comfortable the environment and I got more involved (especially after becoming friends with volunteers and with the local workers), things just kept getting better. And finally, when my time was up, I had a really hard time leaving. I left the island but stayed in the country for a couple weeks because I wasn't sure if I could leave and needed to test if I could handle it. But I had important things I had to get back to (finishing school), and I know ill go back to Bona Fide when I can. Looking back on it all, it seems like the farm exists in a little tropical snow globe (minus the snow) where people flow in and out, and things are always changing but somehow time altogether has just stopped there. Super lame and cheesy analogy, and I'm sorry, its a snow globe to me so take it or leave it. Definitely a place worth spending a slice of eternity at.


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