Monday, May 29, 2017

No to Agrochemicals, Yes to Community Health!

 At the Sustainability Demonstration Center, we promote the healthy production, distribution, and consumption of food, promoting activities that foster a microeconomy that supports healthy, local food production, where we can produce and consume food that is healthy for us, our families, and the environment. Instead of using agrochemicals and planting monocultures, we have a polyculture farm on our ranch where we take into account the health of the land, water, and people. 

 Unfortunately, in Costa Rica, there is a high use of agrochemicals, especially in large, monoculture pineapple plantations. Since education is an important pillar of sustainability, sharing information so that everyone can be an informed consumer is key. This is a list of agrochemicals, both legal and reported, that pineapple plantations in Costa Rica use: 

1) ametryne
2) bromacil
3) diuron
4) paraquat

5) diazinon
6) etoprofos
7) carbaryl
Growth regulators:
8) etephon

9) fosetyl
10) triadimefon 
11) triadimefon 
12) mancozeb
13) metalaxyl

 By sharing knowledge and promoting the healthy production and distribution of food, we CAN take steps as aware and knowledgeable consumers about what we choose to support and what we choose to eat. For more information about the use of agrochemicals in Costa Rica, please check out this link to an article:

Here in Guacimal, we are not only encouraging production of organic food products, we are also fostering a microeconomy that allows people to invest in the community, rather than large, multinational corporations that pollute the land, water, and health of people with agrochemicals. Our Saturday Farmer's Market is a great place to visit and for you to enjoy local, traditional Costa Rican foods and traditional marimba music! Please stop by if you are in the area!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

REDD+ Means Red Alert!

I love students… and the students from the California University System who visited the Center recently, sparked conversations about many topics… too many to mention.  But I want to write about one in particular.  Because it became apparent that REDD+ is being “sold” to them as this grand idea to offset deforestation and pollution.   It is an absurd idea and we must question it and do all we can to help protect the territories of the indigenous people.  The BriBri have put together an informative booklet which I summarized below.

Translated and Adapted from:  "Cuidando la Madre Tierra:  Luchando contra REDD+ y megaproyectos"   (Taking Care of Mother Earth:  Fighting Against REDD+ and Megaprojects)

What is REDD+?

It means Reduction of Emissions Due to Deforestation and Degradation of the Forests.  The + symbol refers to a Sustainable Handling, Conservation and an Increase of Carbon reserves.

It is a project that allows extractive industries (corporations and governments) pay for permits that allow them to pollute.  The contract that the leaders of an indigenous community sign to accept REDD+ in its territory, means that the community no longer can use its forest or most of it, because there are companies that are paying so the trees in their forests clean the pollution caused by the industry. 

The project was created by international entities such as the World Bank and United Nations, and it started in Costa Rica in 2008.

They reject REDD+ because corporations need to be responsible for their own pollution and they need to stop their extractive, polluting industries; to pay in order to pollute is a lack of respect.

They reject REDD+ because the process of consultation that the government keeps pushing since 8 years ago is not done with good intention as it does not provide timely and true information to the indigenous communities involved.  They obtain the cooperation If the local government against the will of the people.  If the local BRIBRI government signs such a contract, the usable area of forest the indigenous community would have left to use would be reduced to 2%.

Since 2010, the community has been against this project and has been protesting and they even went to the Presidential Home in San Jose.

They have used the media, held forums, visited communities; they have had numerous meetings with the local government ADITIBRI who are not listening to the people, and have received visitors from various countries that want to help them stop REDD+.

They worked on a Declaration to protect their indigenous BRIBRI territory and used the United Nations Declaration regarding Indigenous Peoples.  The main point in this Declaration is that indigenous people have the right to self-determination and self-governance.

Indigenous people have been living in balance and harmony with their environment, a true and ancestral model of Sustainability.  They do not need REDD+.  And in fact, REDD+ would upset this delicate balance.

Please tell others about what REDD+ really means!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Community Outreach Programs at the Sustainability Demonstration Center

We promote a wide range of different community outreach programs here at the Sustainability Demonstration Center, from economic empowerment to environmental protection, from animal welfare to educational programs for both children and adults.

Guests who stay at the Center itself or at one of the rental cabins directly support the initiatives at the Center and the community. If you are interested in visiting and staying with us, please let us know!

For more information about the Sustainability Demonstration Center, check out our website:



Native Tree Nursery: The Center houses a tree nursery of over 6,000 trees in conjunction with the Costa Rican Conservation Foundation. These trees are given away freely primarily for reforestation efforts around water recharge areas, but also to anyone who wants to restore areas voided of trees.

Collaborative Efforts: The Center collaborates with other organizations such as national and international universities, in particular Environmental Kiosks of the University of Costa Rica and Lynchburg College.

Supporting Research: The Center provides free lodging to researchers who come to contribute pro bono to river protection.

Traditional Sugar Mill: Our traditional sugar mill is made available to the locals to promote the planting and processing of local and organic sugar and reduce the consumption of one of the most environmentally damaging crops in Costa Rica. We often coordinate this sugar cane milling with tourist groups.

Local Newspaper: The Center is a co-editor and writes a large portion of the local newspaper and often funds its printing.  The newspaper contains information to help protect the environment.

Sustainable Agriculture: We also are trying out different crops that are more sustainable than the cattle industry or other harmful crops such as pineapple and bananas.

Upcycling Projects: Children often receive classes on recycling and other now the University of Costa Rica students who work with us have an edible garden project that they are creating using car tires and recycled wood

Alliance for the Defense of Water: The Center has been co-founder and faithful supporter of the Alliance for the Defense of Water in Puntarenas Province and continues to promote action through this informal organization of more than 20 rural communities


Spay and Neuter Clinics: The Center continues the spay and neuter clinics that its founders began in Monteverde in 2008, thanks to the vet who makes the effort to travel down to make it possible!

Wildlife Rehabilitation: The locals often bring more than domestic animals, which is why we are now working with the national entity in charge of wildlife (SINAC) to rehabilitate the animals that we can and release them and keep the ones that cannot be safely released.

 Healthy Meat Production: Current global meat production methods are often very cruel. The Center uses its 112-acre organic farm to try out different ways to raise animals for meat in a healthy and kind way.


Weekly Farmer’s Market: The Center provides free space and pays for utilities and patent fees for anyone in the community or surrounding communities who wishes to come and sell their products and food at the Farmer’s Market every Saturday.

Farm-to-Table Meals: We coordinate with women from the community to make meals and provide other services such as massages or cooking classes for our guests. When the guests arrive, the women deal directly with the guests and earn 100% of the sale.

Local Organic Foods: We promote organic agriculture and the sale of local products such as eggs, cheese, tortillas, free range chickens, etc. by providing a list to the cabin guests prior to arrival. 100% of the sale goes to the local seller. The Center promotes community-based rural tourism.

Support of Local Artists: We allow local artists to sell their artwork in the main historic building of the Center, which is visited by many tourists and we do not charge any commission.


Community Classes & Workshops: The Center opens its doors freely to any entity or individual who offers free classes or workshops to the community.  We work with the University of Costa Rica (Kioscos Socioambientales), the National Institute for Learning, Hands without Borders, National University, and many others, so that almost every week, the community receives a class or the occasional treat of a play or a movie. Classes range from how to prevent and treat plagues in honeybees and how to prevent depredation of cattle by large felines to English as a Second Language and art classes for adults and children. Often, the Center gives the teachers or students free lodging in exchange for their work.

Lending Library: We have a small lending public library that is maintained by book donations.

Personal Improvement Classes: We hold weekly Personal Improvement classes.  This is geared towards minimizing issues such as domestic violence and substance abuse.  We have not been successful in starting an AA group, but it is one of our goals as substance abuse is a problem.


Recreation for Children: The first park of its kind is housed at the Center. Local children come freely to enjoy the traditional games of stilts, mechanical bull (actually moved by ropes, not electricity), slippery pole, and a mini-zipline, along with the wide open area to safely run and play. They enjoy mingling with the farm animals, the emu, donkeys and learn about wildlife rehab from our rescued animals. As they splash around in the nearby river, they learn about conservation.

Free Dance Classes: A community member gives free typical dance classes are held for children weekly at another one of our facilities and salsa classes are on occasion given at the Farmer’s Market where tourist and locals alike enjoy themselves and learn to dance!


Community Association: The Center is helping the community to create a non-profit association in order for the community to receive funding for projects that enable the citizens to earn a living in harmony with the environment and to promote cultural development.

River Protection: Since 2011, the community has been protesting large corporations trying to take the water from the pristine Veracruz River. The Center has been very involved in supporting the locals in this endeavor, which entails coordination with national and international institutions, writing letters and emails, traveling, protesting along with locals on the streets in Puntarenas and San Jose, advocating for those who have been affected legally, contacting the media and much more.

Social Services: The Center is housed in a large historic building that was used as the equivalent of a modern mall, but was had been shut down for over 35 years.  It has become much more than a place for the locals to have meetings; they also receive classes, workshops, and interact with all our visitors. Locals look to the Center for help with letters, advocacy, and advice on all sorts of topics.

In addition to these community outreach programs, we are also running a Nature and Cultural Immersion Day Camp this July (sign up for 1 to 4 weeks) and opening up 3 different volunteer positions (with free lodging)! If you know of anyone who would be interested, please pass the information along and help us spread the word.

Are you interested in joining our efforts? Write to us at or give us a call (8302-2522)! We look forward to hearing from you!