Student Experience Office

Student Experience Office
Student Experience Office


Community Partners


  • Zero Hunger
  • Reduced Inequalities
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities

*Taken from: The Global Goals For Sustainable Development

Dates of Travel

February 16, 2019 – February 24, 2019 

Number of Participants

  • 10 Student Participants (5 from Queen's, 5 from Western)
  • 2 Student Trip Leaders (1 from Queen's, 1 from Western)
  • 2 Staff/Faculty Trip Leaders (1 from Queen's, 1 from Western)


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 the 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.


  • 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 the Queen’s Cares 2019 program, you will be able to:

  • Identify the pressures that the global food system has on the rural and Indigenous livelihoods of the Ecuadorian communities and become further aware of how they are pushing back.
  • Compare and contrast urban life in Ecuador with rural life and how sustainable living is embraced.
  • Appreciate the Ecuadorian food system and structures and make comparisons to the Canadian food system and structures. 

Ideal Participant

Calling all Backpacktivists! This experience does involve hiking and some physical activity. We do not stay in 5 star hotels, however our team will be exposed to local Ecuadorian accommodations. If you are curious, optimistic, and open-minded then this is a great opportunity for you. Students who know how to go with the flow and want to engage in ethical learning outside of the classroom will love this experience.


$3,200 CAD (subject to change)

Trip Cost Covers:

  • Flight transportation
  • Ground transportation
  • Health Insurance
  • Operation Groundswell Fees – Program design, communication, financial administration, training and resource development and operating costs
  • Contribution to the project and comprehensive on-site support
  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Administration Fee ((t shirt, team leader contribution, journal)

Note: Queen's Cares participants will be responsible for any souvenirs or additional food/snacks during the trip.

Preliminary Itinerary

Day 1-3 – Orientation in Quito

Our program starts in Ecuador’s cosmopolitan capital of Quito. Following pickups from Mariscal Sucre International Airport, we’ll get settled in the city’s “centro historico” and get acclimatized to the sights, sounds, and smells of the region. We’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, we’ll scavenge the local markets, taste sweet canelazo, chow down on delicious patacones, and maybe take a salsa lesson or two.

We’ll 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, we’ll take a quick bus ride north to the town of Tabacundo. We’ll 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- Departures

After regrouping to look back on our accomplishments and talk 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!

NOTE – Itinerary is subject to change at any point in time, as with all international travel


We do not stay in five-star hotels. Instead, 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 in the price but participants will be responsible for any personal meals or snacks.

Need to Know

  • This experience is based outside Canada and involves travel to Ecuador .
  • You are responsible for ensuring that you have the required travel visas necessary to participate in the experience.
  • Participants must visit their family doctor or a travel clinic to ensure that their immunizations are up to date, and that there are no health concerns for travel. The cost of medical precautions is not included in Queen's Cares fees, and is the responsibility of the participant.
  • 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.