The land upon which VerdEnergia now sits was once a dense, living rainforest; a lush jungle teeming with thousands of species of plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms. Due to foreign corporate interests, the forest was slashed, burned, and cleared for pasture in the 1950’s. The rich humus, which had built up a complex system of microorganisms and mycilium over thousands of years, was exposed to harsh sunlight and eroded into infertility by the hooves of cattle and monoculture tobacco crops…
Founded in 2006, VerdEnergia began a massive soil reconstruction project right away. We received a grant from the government of Costa Rica in association with the Co-Op in Puriscal to plant 35 small farms with Jatropha trees for the production of biodiesel and soaps. Jatropha played a key role in the beginning of our orchards as the hearty shrub provides valuable shade and root structure to protect the already very eroded soil from further damage by the sun and hard rain. As reforestation is one of our main goals, Jatropha has continued to amaze by repairing the soil, fighting erosion, supporting biodiversity and providing valuable habitat for wildlife.
In 2008, Tropical Forestry Engineer and Permaculture teacher Douwe Wielstra joined the ranks of VerdEnergia to help push our orchards towards our ultimate goal: a completely stable food forest. Over the years, Douwe and many others have helped VerdEnergia gather an amazing collection of plants and trees which contribute to the biodiversity of the farm and help form our food forest and gardens. Today, we have planted most of our fruit trees and orchards and have since refocused on nurturing the garden areas within our eco-village and expanding our reforestation work up the hillsides into the Shangri-Lanas project.
Our goal at VerdEnergia is to create an ever-growing, ever-evolving food forest, which will mainly manage itself through companion planting to reach stability. Although it will take thousands of years for the soil to return to the state it once was before it was destroyed, a healthy food forest is well within the attainable future. We are committed to reviving the biodiversity that was lost.
When preparing the land for a garden bed, VerdEnergia utilizes a non-tilling system, as tilling is known to disturb the complex mycelia structure of the soil. Instead, we let the critters and plants do the work for us and only build an initial double-dug garden bed. We also build bioswales to fight erosion on our slopes and retain valuable nutrients, and apply effective microorganisms (EM) to the soil in the form of “worm tea,” cow dung and other organic materials. With the help of leguminous plants and trees, we are bringing back nitrogen and other valuable plant nutrients to replace what was lost. Because of our initial hard work in reconstructing the soil, we are seeing more and more abundance from our gardens in our kitchen. Tubers, salad greens, herbs, spices, certain vegetables, nuts and fruits grace our plates year-round. What we are unable to grow at our elevation we trade for within our greater farming community.
Come rebuild the rainforest with us! We are looking for participants and interns who want to learn about tropical plants and work in our home gardens. Most of all, we are looking for people committed to the future of the planet and who understand that a healthy future grows from healthy soil.