Work Exchange Opportunities
Volunteer as a farm intern on our Kona coffee farm.
UPDATE: Program discontinued. No Positions Available.
Thank you for your interest in Kona Earth work exchange opportunities.
Unfortunately, we have stopped taking interns and do not have any positions
available. The following is old information that is no longer
accurate. For other possible intern opportunities on farms in Hawaii,
check out the WWOOF Hawaii website.
Kona Earth is a small Kona coffee farm on the Big Island of Hawaii. The
Kona Earth work exchange program is for volunteers that are interested in
learning about coffee farming and gaining experience as a farm worker, it is
not a paid position. In exchange for working on the farm, volunteers will
be provided with lodging and some food. The exact terms depend on our
needs at the time.
Our farm and the island are both beautiful places with lots to see and do.
Living on the Kona coffee farm can be a great experience but it is also a lot
of work. We are not a hobby farm nor a resort, we are a full-time business
with a huge amount of difficult work that needs to be done. If you are
looking for a free vacation to Hawaii, this is not the correct place.
Please only apply if you are interested in working on a Kona coffee farm.
We are listed on the WWOOF Hawaii
website but all applicants need to fill out the form below. Our
website has many Farm Life articles with lots of
pictures and stories about life on the farm. Browsing through these
articles may help give a sense of daily farm life. Keep in mind that
these articles can sometimes be a bit optimistic and no picture can truly
convey the tedium and discomfort of spending hours and hours enduring hot,
difficult, dirty work. Below are a few entries that describe working
on the farm:
Length of Stay
The length of stay is fairly flexible. One or two months is typical.
Anything less than four weeks means too much training without enough work in
return. Anything longer than a couple months and everyone gets burned out.
We get a lot of visitors so check with us for available dates. We need
to agree on firm arrival and departure dates ahead of time. We do not
accept volunteers that are already on the island. Do NOT show up until
we have approved your visit or else you will have no place to stay.
Some folks may find they want to spend more time working here than they originally
planned. It's also possible that it just won't be quite the right fit.
Either way, it is a good idea to purchase airfare with a flexible return date.
Requests for extended stays will be considered on a case by case basis.
We also reserve the right to cut a stay short at our own discretion and without
Since we are in the tropics there is no off season. The Kona coffee
harvest is from late fall to early spring but there is plenty of farm work to
do all year long. In some cases, the "off season" can be even busier
than the harvest season. Work exchange opportunities are available at
all times of the year.
There is always plenty of farm work that needs to be done and we will
definitely keep you busy. As a work exchange volunteer, you will not be
considered an employee and you will not be paid. We offer lodging and
maybe some food in exchange for labor. The details vary depending on our
needs. Typically, we expect 30 hours of work per week per person.
Be prepared for a full day of physical labor, 4-5 days in a row, for your
entire stay here.
We try to keep the schedule flexible but the work must get done so sometimes
it is necessary to work in the rain, on the weekends and more than the typical
eight hours per day. The schedule normally permits three days off every
week. The time off is a great opportunity to go to the beach, explore
the island or even find a part-time job.
No prior experience is necessary. A positive attitude and a willingness
to work and learn is all that is required. We will thoroughly explain
and discuss any work tasks before expecting you to do the job yourself.
In some cases we will be working with you, in other cases you will be working
alone. In every case, you are encouraged to ask questions and ask for
help whenever necessary.
Possible work tasks include mowing, using the weed eater, pulling weeds by
hand, spraying herbicide, spreading fertilizer, spreading mulch, pruning,
trimming, digging, moving rocks, fixing fences, planting coffee trees,
processing coffee, drying coffee, packaging and shipping coffee, light
construction, painting, cleaning, equipment maintenance and whatever else
needs to be done. The work varies from season to season but there is
always plenty to do and we will definitely keep you busy.
Everybody has different strengths and with so much work to do it is often
possible to tailor tasks to suit the individual. At the same time, you
should expect to learn new skills and be challenged on a regular basis.
On a small family farm such as Kona Earth, you will experience all aspects of
coffee farming from bean to cup. If you have a specific area you're
interested in or a particular skill you'd like to learn, just let us know.
What to Bring
Hat - The tropical sun is strong. In addition to sunblock, you
will want a hat to keep the sun off your face and neck. A wide brimmed
hat is better than a baseball cap.
Work Boots - You will want both sturdy work boots as well as lighter
sandals. Your boots will likely get wet so a couple pairs might be
good, or at least an extra pair of sneakers and several pairs of socks.
Work Clothes- Several pairs of work clothes that can get dirty, greasy,
stained and generally ruined. Long pants and long sleeves are good protection
from the sun, mosquitos and brush. Shorts and short sleeves are good for
those really hot days.
Nice Clothes - A clean, comfortable outfit (still casual, nothing fancy)
for going in to town.
Warm Clothes - Nights can get chilly. No heavy coat required but
short sleeves won't be enough.
Work Gloves - Costco sells a 3-pack of leather gloves for $20
Driver's License, Passport or ID
Health insurance information and medications
- Light rain coat
- Rubber mud boots
- Mask, fins, snorkel
- Water shoes
- Small day pack
- Mosquito spray
Not Certified Organic
We don't use any insecticides and we follow many organic practices but we are
not certified organic. Working at Kona Earth you will learn all aspects
of coffee farming, both organic and conventional. We use glyphosate (a
common herbicide) and synthetic fertilizers in a way that we feel is both
responsible and sustainable. Farming environmentally friendly yet
profitably is not always easy nor straightforward but with a little ingenuity
and effort there is usually a workable solution.
The barn has a new, very comfortable guest room with one bed, a toilet and a
shower. We could rent the guest room for $100 per night but have
deciding to reserve it for family, friends and volunteers. The guest
room has hot water, electricity and a small kitchen area but no TV, no Internet
access and only shared telephone access. Cell phone coverage on the farm
is possible but spotty. With prior permission, you may access email and
the Internet from our home computer on a limited basis.
We are a 15-20 minute drive from town and the closest beach. Of course
with a little more driving there are plenty of other beaches to explore.
In fact, the entire island is surrounded by beaches. Unfortunately we can
not provide a vehicle and there are no beaches, stores or restaurants within
easy walking distance of the farm. We usually go to town a couple times
per week and will often offer a ride. There is a free but limited
bus service around the island. Hitchhiking is also common on the
island. The closest busy road is approximately two miles away.
Farm work burns a lot of calories so it is important to eat well. We
occasionally invite guests to join us for meals but generally you will be
expected to do all of your own cooking. The guest room has a small
kitchen area with a refrigerator, microwave, toaster oven and coffee
pot. Depending on the pre-negotiated terms, you may or may not be
expected to supply all of your own groceries. Grocery shopping happens
once a week or so. Items we buy for ourselves are often shared and you
can provide a list for your own items. If we are sharing the cost of
groceries then we will pay for reasonable food requests but we will not pay
for gourmet items, junk food or alcohol. We have several garden areas,
several different fruit trees and plenty of fresh chicken eggs. For
non-vegetarians, we may also catch the occasional wild pig.
Of course one of the great benefits of working on a Kona coffee farm is all
the wonderful, fresh 100% Kona coffee. Most people
have to buy our coffee from our website but as a volunteer farm intern, you
can have all the free coffee you can drink while you're here. In our
opinion, a well caffeinated farm worker is usually a good thing.
Health Insurance Required
Traveling away from home always has risks and farming is one of the most
dangerous jobs. There is a lot of dangerous heavy equipment and
difficult manual labor. Safety is paramount but injuries and illness
are always possible. We require all workers to have their own health
insurance coverage (either your own or as a dependent of someone else).
In case of emergency, we will need your your health insurance contact
information and two emergency contacts. Of course we also need to know
of any allergies, medication or medical conditions you may have. If you
have any other conditions that may limit your work abilities, that would be
good to know too.
It is not required to be in top physical condition as long as you're willing
to exert yourself and do your best. You should be able to repeatedly
lift at least 50 pounds and walk uphill while carrying a heavy load.
Farm work always seems to entail a lot of walking, sweating and sore
muscles. Even if you're in good physical shape it can be difficult to
keep up the pace when you're not used to the work.
The farm is our business as well as our home. As long as we all respect
each other then it should be easy to keep things casual and fun. We try
to be accomodating and flexible but there are a few common sense rules that
everyone needs to follow:
- No drugs, weapons or illegal activities (violation is immediate dismissal, no warnings)
- No smoking (including in the fields)
- No pets (we already have plenty)
- No visitors without permission
- If you damage, break or lose something, you may be expected to replace it.
Learn and Have Fun
Perhaps the most important rules of all is to learn and have fun. We
are active in the community so you will probably have opportunities to meet
other farmers, tour other coffee farms and maybe meet other interns.
During off hours, there are plenty of beaches and wilderness areas to
Farm work can be difficult and the best way to get through it is with a
smile. We're always looking for new adventures and enjoy taking the
occasional day off to go play.
If you or someone you know might be interested in a work exchange on Kona Earth
coffee farm, please contact us with the following information and we will let you
know if an opportunity is available.
Feel free to Contact Us with any questions.
Any addition information such as a resume, picture or references would also be
appreciated. Once we hear from you, we will contact you with available
dates and an application form. Please keep in mind that we get a lot of
requests and we can't accept everyone.