Firefly Gardens is a small, spiritual, educational, experimental, natural-building, off-grid permaculture community just getting started in Bahia de Santiago. We are located outside the Tzutujil Maya communities of Tzanchaj, Panabaj, and Santiago Atitlan.

We are passionate about offering hands-on earth-focused building experiences through workshops and volunteering. Our center is grounded in sharing, caring, and the principles of Permaculture and Earthship Biotecture.  We work to transform "waste" into valuable resources, used to heat our water, feed our gardens, & build artistic structures.

We are travellers and yogis, musicians and farmers, foodies and healers, dreamers and believers! Our aim is to build space for holistic healing and intimate educational retreats, through yoga therapy, meditation, food as medicine, cocoa ceremonies, and cultural exchange.  We are now looking for inspired humans to help co-create this community of light <3

Firefly Gardens is a budding seed poking its head out of the ground, seeking the light!

We are ideally situated next to the caldera rim at the southern edge of Bahia de Santiago and Lago de Atitlan. An area that is known for hosting the Cosmic Convergence music festival every New Year's eve.

The top-soil is incredibly rich and productive, and we are planning to expand and grow a diverse food forest while demonstrating the use of simple, shareable technologies like rainwater catchment, solar cooking, renewable energy, composting, thermal mass, fog harvesting, and contained waste treatment.

So far as a community we have built a 2-story SuperAdobe Earth dOMe, permaculture gardens, a communal bamboo kitchen temple, fruit tree citrus grove, sacred fire gathering area, and composting toilets. We are now working on covered camping platforms, compost powered hot showers, a yoga shala, a treehouse, and finishing the inside of the superadobe dome.

We are developing partnerships with local community organizations in order to develop in a responsible way and offer educational opportunities for indigenous locals and travellers alike. We hope to offer a peaceful space for spiritual growth and nature retreats. Jolene is an experienced yoga teacher and registered yoga therapist. Kyle is an international adventure guide and wildland firefighter.

Together we are the Fireflies, trained in natural building practices at the Earthship Biotecture Academy in Taos, New Mexico.
We are living the intention to build bridges of culture between North & Central America, and transition towards a more sustainable, just, and mindful expression of life.
We aim to do this through creativity and love, by combining the ancient wisdom of indigenous practices with modern technologies of green energy and audiovisual arts.

 To learn more, check out our website
www.lewisandthefireflies.org (under construction)


Free / Work-Trade

Firefly Volunteer homestead

Mar 01 - Feb 28, 2019Minimum stay: 5 nightsMaximum capacity: 5 people
Food Not Included
Firefly Gardens is currently in hibernation mode (no major projects while Jolene and Mateo are away).
Eliseu is the caretaker and property manager.

The volunteer worktrade is very relaxed and involves helping Eliseu with gardening projects and caretaking the center. As we are not in community mode, you will be responsible for providing food and cooking meals. This can be shared with the other humans on site :)

You will have the chance to gain experience living off-grid in the mayan cloud forest, composting, foraging, permaculture, etc.
Living with nature, very tranquillo, lots of birds.

You can camp directly on-site. Must supply your own camping gear. Sometimes we may have extra tents available that you can use. There is also an air mattress in the 2nd floor loft of the Firefly Dome. Our off-grid impact center is just starting out and very rustic. We have a composting toilet, outdoor rock shower, propane stove, filtered drinking water, small solar charging station, etc.

The surrounding area is incredibly beautiful. You can go hiking up up the hills, down to the lake, etc.

Flexible is schedule, just a few hours a day of tending the gardens usually. The freedom is yours to explore and come and go. It's a wonderful spot to have a little home base you can return back to on the lake.

Santiago Atitlan is the nearby pueblo. It is an exciting Tzutujil Maya town erupting with life. This is where we run errands, pick-up supplies, and go out on the town. The mercado in Santiago has an abundance of affordable food and goods

The other villages around the lake can be accessed by public lancha (boats) from the dock in Santiago Atitlan.
We are up the hill from the lake, but there is a view of Volcan San Pedro from the property.

This is a homesteader position, to take care of the property with Eliseu and develop the permaculture gardens. We are occupied with work in Canada for much of 2018, and are looking to find long-term volunteer(s) to hold the fort down.

Medicinal Plant Forest Walk

Go for a walk in the neighbouring cloud forest with our local Mayan guide and Firefly caretaker Eliseu!

Eliseu will take you on an educational tour, showing you the medicinal plants and some of their potential uses. He will share his culture and some Tzutujil mayan language words too!

Eliseu grew up here, in the village of Tzanchaj and working with his father in the jungle around Firefly Gardens. He is gentle soul and great tour guide.

Comprehension of basic Spanish is essential to get the most out of this tour. Eliseu is a very patient teacher, though he doesn't speak much English.

100% of the price of this tour goes to Eliseu and his family. We are happy to connect people with this magical experience. Talk about a win-win!

Other hiking tours are available :)

Key Stats.

Year founded


Size of project site

0.4 hectares

Languages spoken

  • English
  • Spanish
  • Tz'utujil

People on site

1 - 10

Dry season

November to March

Wet season

May to October

Living Conditions.


  • tent camping
  • private room

Vegetarian Food

  • over 80% locally sourced
  • communally cooked meals
  • communal kitchen access


  • None: Off the grid


Firefly Gardens is currently offering the following opportunities:

  • Natural builder
  • carpenter
  • bamboo builder
  • permaculture
  • gardeners
  • treehouse builder
  • homesteaders

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