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Our Community




Co-FOUNDER / permaculture & community activities

Eraldo was born in Germany, he saw the news of the explosion at Chernobyl while in Brasil, and since that moment he got convinced that something desperately needed to change, and ever since he has dedicated his life to form his vision for the future, EL NAGUAL.

DREAM: To build a community around the globe that through permaculture and sustainable development change the world


Mariana Devoto

Co-FOUNDER/art & organic garden

Mariana is from Argentina, she always knew the world was a crazy but beautiful place, her hungry heart and creative mind let her saw that the solution could only be achieved from outside the system, with tons of effort and dedication and with art as her sword she has has been working for 30 years to build EL NAGUAL.

DREAM: For people to understand that the world is like one of her Mosaics, it only works and is beautiful when all it’s individual pieces work together regardless of their shape or size.


Daniel Balcazar

Creative & communication team

Colombian, arrived to Brazil on 2012 after backpacking around South America, and ever since then and inspired by nature and to make sure his daughter Camille will have a better future, he is working to live in a sustainable way, always contributing to many environmental projects with his creativity and focusing on Love, Art, Illustration, Bio-construction, Design, woodwork and others.

DREAM: To find or create an alternative path for people to live and make a living, one that is more relaxed, simple, fair, deep, free and in balance and constant contact with nature.



COmmunity team

Nini was born in Brazil, in Santo Aleixo, and for 20 years has contributed to EL NAGUAL with her hard work and always positive attitude. She believes appreciating everyone regardless of their personal background, and always being grateful for what they do.

DREAM: To see her country and the Brazilian Culture solve the current social and environmental crisis it is going through. She wants people to learn to live together in peace and take to care of the places they are in.


But this family is way bigger

The story of EL NAGUAL is a long one, and it is written by all the wonderful people that have contributed, participated and learned with us throughout this many years, we invite you to see a bit more of all our friends, the volunteers, visitors and family that throughout the years have participated of the project.


For a new way of living



We see the current state of the world as unbalanced, both with nature and with ourselves, it’s easy to see when looking at all the obvious economic, politic, humanitarian and environmental crises.

We believe it is possible to rediscover a new way of living, one that helps maintain ecosystems and human happiness and development in a balanced way. Our mission is to become a central hub for the development and application of this new concepts of community and economic structures, always striving to improve the state of the environment and of human life in the process. We believe in a more humane future developing in a sustainable way without disrupting the ecosystem we depend on for survival.

This is a global movement already happening, many feel the increasing need for it, and we are part of it, we will keep supporting it’s growth and discovering new solutions for it, our mission is rather simply, to make sure life, both non-human and human, arrives to the future in the best possible way and under the best possible conditions, and we believe community, sustainability, and caring for others and the ecosystem is the best way, if not the only way, of doing so.



EL NAGUAL sees that in order to truly discover a new way of living that is gonna be sustainable and contribute to the flourishment of people and nature alike we need to focus on 5 key aspects


The key is Permaculture, and it is all about working with nature rather than against it or through it, adjusting our behavior patterns and production processes to its natural cycles and symbiotic relationships. And through the study and application of our current understanding of the natural world and through the responsable use of different technologies, both ancient and new. It is possible to be Sustainable and help people and ecosystems, grow and flourish.


New systems of values, behavioral patterns and directions for life must be develop, this include spiritual, cultural, personal and political orientations. But we believe this must be ever evolving, and always respect the freedom of people to choose or believe as they see fit in a personal level.

We encourage an ever open and ever ongoing philosophical discussion, where all ideas can be presented and confronted with rationality and their usefulness, we do not believe in forcing people down through any path, no one has the absolute truth, but we all might carry bits of it. And by having an open and respectful constant dialogue we will all grow within our personal truths and understanding without the need for being radical.


Art is the voice of culture, is the pictorial representation of an Era’s attitude, is the sculpture of our most internal being materialized. At EL NAGUAL we see art as a fundamental part of healthy human and cultural development, regardless of the medium or the style, art has always been there to shape all that we are that cannot be seen, all that we can be and is yet to come, and all wrong that is happening an is in desperate need for attention. Art is not only a fun little side project of culture, art turns shelter into a home, a person into an individual, art is a way of thinking, of connecting with others, art is a language for everything that scapes the constraining limits of simple words.


It is obvious that the environment is in crisis, being sustainable at this point is not enough given the number of ecosystems facing destruction, a massive effort must be done in order to preserve the ecosystems both near and far, it’s animals, plants, resources and cycles. We all depend on a global natural cycle that goes beyond national or political imaginary borders, from the nutrient rich sand carried by the wind from the Sahara desert that feeds the Amazon rain forest, to the water and CO2 cycles that depend on stable temperature and chemical processes. We must all make an effort to maintain and preserve as many natural ecosystems as possible, for people to secure our presence in the future of this planet we must make sure key ecosystems and biomes preserved and taken care for.


This is global, nothing can be truly accomplished if we just care about our own corner of the world and nothing else. We believe this knowledge and this experiences need to be shared, people need to know about this possibility and this new way of doing things. We want to contribute to the Permaculture and Eco Village movements by empowering people, teaching them the necessary skills for them to build their own communities and Eco projects and become contributors out in the world.
We also strive to Educate ourselves, through trial and error experience, through research and mostly by keeping an open mind and attitude, allowing us to be exposed to all new ideas, concepts and arguments that might come our way from new volunteers, friends or any other source.


“When it’s good, it’s good for everyone”

eraldo  |  Co-Founder



It was December 28, 1989 when Eraldo from Germany, and Mariana from Argentina, arrived to Santo Aleixo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, got the opportunity to buy a piece of land and called it EL NAGUAL. They decided not to be the owners but the protectors of this land, to help it grow and grow with it, and it all started by living 7 months on a tent with two dogs.

eraldo mariana el nagual is a love story

There was only one rural house on the land, very well built, but we decided to leave it to the first couple of locals that stayed here for 3 years working with us as partners. This where incredible years full of learning.

In January 1991 the property was just dried grass, all forests had been cut down for steam engines the century before. But Eraldo and Mariana wanted to change this, with agroforestry and a huge commitment to dedicate their lives to the conservation and the reforestation of this land, they established it as a RPPN, a private natural reserve under Brazilian law, so that more than 90% of the terrain and the life in it would forever be preserved, taken cared of. and not exploited. Nowadays EL NAGUAL is even considered and advanced point of the Atlantic Rain Forest, gone are the days of dried grass, after 30 years of conservation and reforestation efforts it is now a deep Forest full of all forms of animals and plants.

At EL NAGUAL we always strive to do things ourselves, by hand, using our creativity, our minds and the resources provided by the environment around us, making sure to have the least amount of negative impact on the ecosystem. As an example with help from Roberto and Susana (Mariana’s dad and stepmom) we built a theodolite device out of bamboo, in order to measure the entire property. With just bamboo, no calculator and the light of a hydro generator we got results with only a 0,2% error margin.

sustainable water generator turbine eco village energy hydro

Through many years we used to live without access to the electric grid, candles and flashlights where common but mostly we got our electricity from a reliable little generator we built, one that uses the water and anergy from the river to turn a water wheel.

permaculture goat sustainable eco community eco village

Animals have been our friends for many years, and when you take care of them they take care of you, there is no need to abuse or kill, it’s one of the many symbiotic relationships we humans enjoy with nature.

gardening organic food agroforestry sustainable clean

But the greatest symbiosis we enjoy is with plants, they feed us, keep us healthy, heal us and fill our surroundings with beauty.

This relationship is forged by taking care of the land, the soil and the forest, by the intelligent use and re-use of our waste and local resources, and mostly thanks to the many crops we plant. By respecting nature’s cycles and working with the seasons and many traditional, non-traditional eatable and non-eatable plants that together help shape and sustain a balanced ecosystem and the many species that it depends upon and that depend on it, us humans included.

Our story has continue to grow throughout the past 30 years, from the construction of our eco Hostel, to restoring this entire grassland into the Atlantic rainforest it was before, this story has the participation and collaboration of hundreds of volunteers and visitors. Still we see room for change, for improvement, for growth.


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