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Sustainability & Horticulture in Ireland | Bawnboy, County Cavan, Ireland

In the spring and summer, interns work with our partner’s management team to produce organically grown fruit, vegetables, and flowers for the retreat center. This is an opportunity for students interested in the planning and maintenance of an organic garden to gain hands-on experience of growing techniques and garden production.

There is a community garden one day per week which brings another element to the whole experience. All food and flowers grown are used to make beautiful vegetarian meals and floral arrangements. Interns are welcome to partake in cooking for the community. These vegetables supplement other bought items as there is a strong seasonal element to the garden. Other volunteers are involved in keeping the grounds looking well and interns will only be involved in the walled garden. We are trying out several types of systems including no-dig and polyculture, to create soil and to observe how wild plants and vegetables grow together as opposed to more traditional weeding methods.

Interns may also pair this internship with an opportunity at our partner’s NGO that operates in Mongolia. At the site in Mongolia, interns work on a sustainable food production project, aiding local people in providing healthy food for themselves and their families. Interns could use the skills they develop in Ireland to aid struggling families in Mongolia.

Throughout the year, interns can work with the team to design organic vegetarian menus and prepare the meals for the residents and visitors to the retreat center. As this center is a self-sustaining community, all food comes from the property itself.

Internship Start Dates:

  • Flexible start dates at the beginning of any academic term.

Duration of Internship:

  • 10-12 weeks

Our Sustainability and Horticulture partner organization is a residential retreat center located among the hills and lakes of northwest County Cavan. The center opened in 1990 under the guidance and spiritual direction of Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche. A small group of his students manages the center with the support of many others scattered near and far across the world. The center is open to all visitors, Buddhist or otherwise, and strives to achieve the following goals:

  • Encourage conservation of earth’s natural resources and develop an awareness of the interdependence of existence
  • Work for peaceful co-existence between all living beings.
  • Promote inter-faith dialogue at a deep spiritual level in the context of the work for peace on the Irish island
  • Preserve the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and culture through teaching meditation and Dharma practice
  • Assist in the re-establishment of monasteries in Tibet, and support Tibetan refugees and their monasteries in India
  • Work for the re-establishment of Buddhism in Mongolia, and relieve the difficulties of the Mongolian people

Organic Garden Management (Spring/Summer)

This is a great internship for students studying ecological sustainability. The intern would support the team’s work to maintain the organic vegetable and flower garden. The strictly organic garden sometimes incorporates bio-dynamic growing techniques. The garden has a large poly-tunnel as well as mature fruit trees. Some typical tasks include:

  • Implementation of methods and management of an organic garden
  • Preparation of the vegetable plots for the growing season
  • Sowing and cultivation of seedlings in the poly-tunnel
  • Harvesting the vegetables

Organic Meal Design and Preparation (All Terms)

Interns interested in culinary arts and food science can collaborate with the management team to design and produce organic, vegetarian menus for the residents and guests of the center. Interns can practice designing seasonal and local meals by following specific guidelines about when certain types of meals should be prepared. All meals are vegetarian, but not necessarily vegan.

Academic Background:

  • Meal Design:
    • Background in food science or culinary arts or equivalent experience.
  • Garden Management:
    • Horticulture or a related field are preferred – students of any major are welcome to apply, provided they have some significant gardening knowledge/experience
  • Both Options:
    • Students who are interested in learning more about Buddhist practice are strongly encouraged to apply.


  • Meal Design:
    • Previous experience or background working with locally grown organic foods for menu design and implementation.
    • Interest in designing and implementing menus based on specific dietary interests and needs.
    • Desire to be creative and work within a “locavore” culture.
  • Garden Management:
    • Experience in organic and or bio-dynamic cultivation
  • Both Options:
    • Interns are expected to demonstrate responsibility, professional motivation, flexibility, and effective communication skills.

Language Requirements:

  • English is the language of communication. Interns must be capable of written and spoken communication at a near-native level in professional settings.

Visa Requirements:

  • No visa is required for internships under 90 days. For multiple term placements, interns must be eligible for an Irish Working Holiday authorisation.

Estimated One-Time Expenses

  • IE3 Global Program Fee: $3,450
  • International Travel: $1,000
  • Working Holiday Authorization: $295
  • Irish Residence Permit (only for 90+ day placements): $325

Estimated Monthly Expenses

  • Housing and Meals (provided by host organization): No Cost (plan for additional meals eaten off-site, if relevant)
  • Local Transportation: $50
  • Utilities, Phone, Internet: $60

*Fee amounts are calculated with an exchange rate from European Euro at the time of posting.

The retreat center provides dormitory-style housing along with meals at the rate listed above. Accommodations are in the large Victorian house called Owendoon, which is in thirteen acres of meadow, woodland, and gardens, next to a lake.

Blog Posts

Learn more about past interns’ experiences below:


Fall | Winter | Spring | Summer

Application Deadline

Summer: January 25
Fall: April 15
Winter: September 1
Spring: November 15

Basic Requirements

-Students who are interested in Buddhist practice are strongly encouraged to apply.