Monday, April 10, 2017

Community Service Students Making a Difference!

We have had wonderful participation from community service students from the University of Costa Rica (UCR) at the Sustainability Demonstration Center. They have been making a difference as community leaders to protect natural resources and sustainable community development! We have had students from different programs of the UCR come and lead talks and workshops with local children and adults, as well as learn and enjoy the river and local community initiatives.

We had some community service students working in the food industry come to help with the development of proper packaging and labeling of food products and teach about the steps to the commercialization of local products. They gave talks that promote the use of seasonal fruits like cashew apples and great information for local entrepreneurs.

We also had students from the Environmental Kiosks program give workshops with children about deforestation and impacts of forest degradation. Education is such an important part of initiating sustainable change and working with children is key. With university students teaching local children, you truly experience the power of learning through teaching!

The communications class led by the UCR also continues, strengthening sustainable community development in Guacimal. Locals have been working on developing their own radio programs - very exciting!

SACO, a program of the UCR, serves as a bridge between academic knowledge and farmers. This is a leadership program that supports the formation and personal development of community leaders to protect natural resources, as well as develop efficient systems of land and resource use. For example, there is active exploration and discussion of how agreements done at a governmental level affect life on a daily basis.

We are thrilled that we have so many inspiring, enthusiastic students from the UCR working with us at the Sustainability Demonstration Center to promote and strengthen local community initiatives. Thank you for all that you do!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Agroecological Day Trip to the Sustainability Demonstration Center


On a beautiful weekend during March, we had the opportunity to host an interactive Agroecological Day Trip (“Paseo Agroecol√≥gico”), organized by Juan Arriaga from Casa del Sol in Guanacaste, at the Sustainability Demonstration Center. It was an empowering series of interactions between people with different backgrounds and expertise. This trip was part of other fair trade and sustainability visits we’ve had at the Center and our organic farm. The entire “paseo” was a continuous exchange of information between over 40 people from different regions of Costa Rica, from topics including adaptation strategies to climate change by using different groups to analysis of economic and political changes and impacts on small farmers and more.

We had great participation from small farmers, as well as Iris Rodriguez, who runs one of the few Seed Banks in Costa Rica. She has a storage-house in Atenas that allows her to preserve a diversity of seeds that have a wide range of uses, such as natural pesticides, incense, and also nutritional source. There was a seed exchange among participants and discussion about how we can grow different foods, especially in anticipation of the globalization of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and the harmful pesticide, RoundUp that accompanies GMO crops.

We also visited a local artist's Hobbit-style gallery... what an amazing person!  He is one example of what one person can do to help his community.  He volunteers at many community-based organizations, including the Feria de Guacimal and the City Water Council.

And, yes, a swim in the river was also in order, followed by great food from the local women at Farmer's Market.

At the Farmer's market, Jaime Garcia, representing two Costa Rican universities (UCR and UNED), spoke about agrochemicals and pesticides and their widespread impacts on our health and the health of our planet.  Many passerby even stayed to hear the important information Dr. Garcia shared.

Empowered by the knowledge that each person could share and also inspired by the messages and information from other people, it was a wonderful weekend. It became clear that it is up to the people to take charge and steer the boat, as often, governments are the ones facilitating world destruction. This type of action begins with each individual, making sure we make healthy decisions that allow us to take care of ourselves, those around us, and with that, the rest of the planet. Sharing INFORMATION is KEY.