Urban Gardening Project

About the Program

Brazil's borders have reopened but we are taking a cautious approach to reopening programs within vulnerable favelas. Sign up now for 2021 and we'll work with you every step of the way and provide complete flexibility with dates! 

This fantastic project was created with the goal of providing the residents of two of Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela (shanty town) communities - Manguinhos and Complexo do Alemão, with nutritious food. It aims to teach them the skills to garden and supply fresh, healthy food for their families and community.

Sadly, the residents of Rio's favelas are being targeted by the door-to-door selling of cheap processed food options, an easy option for residents when there are is no vehicle to get to the supermarket and public transport is expensive. Most people in the poorest communities are also under-educated, making them more vulnerable to advertising from the major food and beverage companies. As a result, unhealthy processed foods high in fat and sugar have become prevalent in favelas, and health issues have soared. It is imperative that favela communities have access to nutritious food and learn how to develop and grow healthy food for their families.

Goals of this Project:

  • Provide access to nutritious food to the residents of Complexo do Alemão – one of Rio’s largest favelas
  • Improve the health and long-term future of some of Rio’s most impoverished people, helping in local schools and the community
  • Raise awareness of healthy eating and teach planting techniques so residents can continue the gardens and create more
  • Learn and teach about tropical urban gardening, medicinal plants, nutrition and conservation

How You Can Help

Volunteers are crucial to the success of this program, supplying their essential knowledge and skill in horticulture. This project firmly supports the ethos of ‘helping others to help themselves’ – educating and up-skilling students in local schools and favela residents so they have the knowledge to continue to supply food for their families. These skills can then be passed on to future generations.

While volunteers will impart their knowledge to residents, they will also have the opportunity to learn more about tropical urban gardening, medicinal plants, nutrition and conservation in Brazil. All participants will learn more about each others lives and gain greater cross-cultural understanding.

Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and can expect to undertake the following tasks:

  • Design and deliver garden-based educational curriculum in local schools
  • Network with local community residents and local program staff
  • Introduce new gardening techniques to youth in the favela
  • Contribute to material costs: seeds, soil, tools, and supplies



Love Volunteers welcomes all those 18 years and over who wish to assist in the creation and maintenance of urban garden spaces in some of Brazil's most marginalized communities. This 'hands-on' project is best suited to those who have a passion for gardening and/or environmental studies, or who simply wish to explore an interest in these fields. However, the project is open to all and does not require participants to have specific education, qualifications or experience, as you will be shown everything you need to know by your local project leader. Volunteers on this project will need a basic understanding of Portuguese (or Spanish) in order to communicate effectively with the children and the local project team. All applicants must of course display a genuine willingness to help, be fit and active, show drive and initiative, and bring a positive 'can-do' attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!

Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:

  • Emergency contact
  • Police check

Find out how to obtain a police check here

Project Location

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro

This program is located in the favela (shanty town) communities of Manguinhos and Complexo do Alemão. Rio is Brazil’s second most populous city after Sao Paulo and is symbolized by the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer which stands atop Sugarloaf Mountain and watches over all of Rio. World renowned for its eponymous carnival, Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and of course the 2016 Olympics, Rio has something to offer every traveler. This is an amazing location for volunteers to not only give back to the local communities but to have a truly memorable experience! 

Start Dates & Duration

Minimum 1 week

This project is available year-round and programs start every SUNDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 1 week to 12 weeks. Longer stays can be arranged directly with the local team, but will be subject to availability and individual visa conditions.

Spaces on this project are limited and therefore subject to availability. Early booking is recommended.

For current available start dates please check the calendar on the right.

Arrival & Orientation

Airport Pickup Included

Upon your arrival in Rio de Janeiro, you will be collected at the airport and delivered to your accommodation. On Monday morning you will receive an orientation to help you settle in, find out about your volunteering placement, the local surroundings and meet your fellow volunteers (if you haven't already!). A representative from the local team will fill you in on local and regional customs, traveling, rules and recommendations, and of course, what to expect from your volunteering experience. They will also help you with purchasing a local sim phone card if required. Local maps and a transport guide are provided free of charge by the hostel. This is a great opportunity to get to know your hosts, meet your fellow volunteers, and ask any last questions you may have!

  • Program Arrival Day: SUNDAY
  • Program Departure Day: SATURDAY
  • Arrival/Departure Airport: Rio de Janeiro–Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (aka Galeão International Airport), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Code: GIG)

Accommodation & Meals

Public Hostel / Meals Included

Volunteers on this project are accommodated at one of Rio de Janeiro’s top youth hostels - the CabanaCopa Hostel - which is perfectly located in the safe and popular area of Copacabana next to a beautiful nature park just three blocks from the famous Copacabana Beach and within convenient access to metro stations, restaurants and the many attractions of this vibrant city. Volunteers will stay in shared dormitory-style rooms of various sizes, with shared bathroom facilities. Hostel amenities include (but are not limited to): bed linens, breakfast, drinkable water, hot water, luggage storage, maps/tourist information, high-speed internet, 24hr security and Check-in, A/C in rooms (or ceiling fans), big individual lockers, multilingual staff, towels, other entertainment options such as TV rooms. Several awesome communal areas are provided for guests to hang out, catch up with the many fellow travellers, or to simply relax!

All standard amenities are available in the hostel, including hot showers and modern bathrooms, air conditioning/ceiling fans, microwave, bed linen and free drinking water. There is even free Wi-Fi, an onsite bar and a pool table! Private double rooms w/ensuite are available on request for an additional fee and external laundry services are available nearby. The hostel is well managed and meticulously clean, is a perfect home away from home and a wonderful base for your stay in Rio!

Volunteers are provided with a traditional Brazilian breakfast every day at the hostel (included in the program fee). They then have the opportunity to use other meals times to experience the amazing culture and cuisine that Rio has to offer. Simply get a few of your fellow hostel mates together and head out to one of the many local restaurants, bars or cafes and enjoy all the local and international delicacies on offer! Easy! 


From USD 439
Program fee:
Different currency?
USD 439

That’s just USD 63 per day* for:

  • Airport pick-up on arrival
  • Orientation & full safety briefing
  • Accommodation (as specified above)
  • Food & Meals (as specified above)
  • 24/7 local support network

*In addition to the program fees listed above a Registration Fee is payable to secure your place. The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering with Love Volunteers for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime LV Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the LV Trip Planner.

Some things are not included in the program fees listed above, such as flights, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, additional foods and snacks, spending money, local transport, in-country trips and excursions, return airport transfer (unless mentioned above).

Please note that prices are subject to change without notice. Please ensure you have read the Love Volunteers Terms and Conditions & Refund Policy.

Additional Info

Prefer a private room?

Private rooms can be arranged at the hostel for an additional charge of approximately US$45 per night (dependent on availability.  Price confirmed at time of booking).

Need extra nights at the hostel?

The listed program fee above covers your accommodation from Sunday to Saturday each week of your program, but for those who wish to stay on in Rio after the completion of their volunteering program (to explore or to simply wait for a more convenient departing flight time), extra nights at the hostel can be arranged for US$25 per night. Simply let us know and we will book this for you (additional accommodation fees to be paid directly to the local team on arrival into Rio). 

Arranging your own accommodation?

If you would prefer to arrange your own accommodation the program fee will be adjusted accordingly.  

1 week: US$220
2 weeks: US$270
+ US$75 for each additional week.