At Origin

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Applications Closed!


At Origin

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  • Deconstruct the myths and discover the realities of today’s global food system at origin.
  • Immerse yourself in Guatemalan culture and hear about its history from former guerrillas who have traded their guns for farming tools.
  • Learn to cook traditional Guatemalan cuisine from scratch – starting with a live chicken!
  • From climbing an active volcano to soaking in mineral hot springs and a volcanic lake, experience Guatemala’s astounding natural beauty up close and personal.


9-DAY ↑

Fees + Community Contribution 

$1,250 USD + $90 USD
$1,375 CAD + $100 CAD

Program Dates

September 2 – 10, 2017

Applications Closed!

Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Location: Guatemala City, Antigua
Accommodation: Earth Lodge

We begin our Guatemala adventure at the front doors of La Aurora International Airport but quickly take our orientation to Antigua, where the group will acclimatize to the sights, smells, sounds, and smiles of the region. Just outside of the country’s historical colonial capital, we’ll hang at the Earth Lodge, a sustainable avocado farm overlooking the city, as we orient ourselves to the country’s cultural and geographic landscape and begin tracing food back to its origin

Coffee & Culture
Location: Guatemala City, Antigua, San Miguel Escobar
Accommodation: Earth Lodge

We dive right into our exploration of the global food system as we head out to nearby San Miguel Escobar to explore local cuisine and small scale coffee farming with De La Gente, a sustainable agricultural cooperative. We will begin with a cooking lesson with the best chefs around – local mamás who will open their family kitchens to our team. After enjoying the delicious outcomes of our morning’s work, we’ll join farmers Filiberto and Timoteo on the slopes of Volcán Agua where we will learn to pick, process, and roast our coffee.

Brewing Justice
Location: Xela
Accommodation: Casa Antiqua

We’ll brave local transport and travel down the Pan-American Highway via chicken bus to the ladino and indigenous metropolis of Xela. Here we’ll join revolutionary-turned-reformer Willie at Cafe Red for a delicious meal and an insightful chat about the challenges facing campesinos and their struggle to integrate into the new socio-economic order. After scavenging through Xela’s incredible markets, we will join Escuela La Paz for a highland dinner and an opportunity to make traditional Mayan hot chocolate!

Sunrises & Summits
Location: Xela/Santa Maria
Accommodation: Casa Antiqua

No visit to the highlands is complete without a climb of one of its iconic peaks! We’ll rise early to undertake an epic hike of Volcán Santa Maria, or its more explosive younger sibling, Santiaguito. It’ll be an unforgettable journey as we push ourselves physically to be rewarded with an incomparable view above the clouds.

The Coffee Revolution
Location: Santa Anita
Accommodation: Homestays

After a brief journey north-west on a private microbus, our group will arrive in the community of Santa Anita, a coffee and banana growing community founded by former civil war combatants. These soldiers-turned-farmers perceive coffee differently; it isn’t just an exportable commodity, but a symbol of revolutionary solidarity. Staying in family homes, we’ll have the opportunity hear their stories and share our own while building friendships and deepening our understanding the coffee revolution.

Growing Change
Location: Santa Anita
Accommodations: Homestays

There on the lush slopes of the boca costa, we will get our hands dirty in compost, pick ripe, red coffee fruit and explore this jungle coffee farm. We may also collaborate on the continued construction of the community’s new beneficio or mill where their coffee will be washed, depulped, fermented, dried, and sorted. Through these community development initiatives, we will share briefly in the life campesinos and get to the root of our global food system.

Lago Livin’
Location: Lago Atitlan
Accommodations: The Hub

We will conclude our exploration at Operation Groundswell’s Hub, located on the shores of beautiful Lago Atitlan. The Hub is a physical embodiment of OG’s culture, philosophy, and mission, and functions as hostel, home, office, and experimental agricultural site where we work alongside local partners. Our first evening at the Hub, we’ll head to the lake and explore local fishing practices at dusk while paddling along the shore in cayucos, or traditional wooden dugout canoes. Then we’ll return for a homecooked meal and snuggle in for the night in a rustic but comfortable bamboo bungalow.

Location: Lago Atitlan
Accommodations: The Hub

On our final morning, we’ll get our hands dirty once again and dig into alternative agricultural projects on the site. In the afternoon, we’ll have the chance to explore the town’s many famous women’s weaving cooperatives or simply stroll along the shore of a volcanic lake, before reflecting on our awesome adventure as a team. We will discuss lessons learned, assess our impact, and prepare for the journey home.

Location: Lago Atitlan/Guatemala City

Finally on our last day, with hearts full of memories, we will return to Guatemala City where our group will say adios and adelante!

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What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it


This is not a vagabond’s adventure nor is it a five-star jetsetter’s cruise. We will be sleeping as a team in diverse accommodations including an avocado farm overlooking Antigua, homestays in Santa Anita, and a bamboo bungalow on the shores of Lake Atitlan. We’ll break bread together in family homes and local eateries that allow us to dive into traditional Guatemalan cuisine and even try our hand at cooking ourselves. Grassroots travel and homestays will allow us to immerse in the local culture but living as Guatemalans do sometimes means living without some of the comforts to which we’re accustomed. Be prepared for a mix of experiences and get ready to go ‘At Origin’!

Meet Our Regional Director

After running programs on three continents in as many summers, Bobby returned to his OG roots in Guatemala to manage the Hub as Regional Director. Throughout his travels he has found himself standing on top of an active volcano in Ecuador, watching the sun set across the Salt Flats of Bolivia, and working barefoot in the rice paddies of Cambodia. But nothing tops the smell of the pine forests back home in New England. When he’s not brainstorming new projects and animals to bring to the Hub, you’ll probably find him doing handstands.

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