Waterfall Villas working to save Pristine Watersheds in Costa Rica

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After the recent rains, an overturned rock at the edge of the Cascadas Farallas Waterfalls shows various fossils of an Emu-type prehistoric animal that once roamed the Southern Pacific of Costa Rica. Now part of the Baru rainforest, this waterfall and the fossils are protected by the Waterfall Villas Private Wildlife Reserve. Fortunately, here the source of the waterfall is very close – underground and inside of rock bed, and there are no polluting sources upstream – only the otters, tiger heron, and the occasional jaguar wade upstream of the waterfalls usually in the summer months.

The water in the Cascadas Farallas Waterfalls is crystal clear and clean enough to drink, but the Waterfall Villas has recently invested in an ultra-violet filter as a second step to the exsisting carbon filter system to make sure that this water can be used throughout our eco-hotel without any chlorine! This ultra-violet system is now inplace and not using any chemicals that enter into our water is a great benefit to save the waterfalls and all of the wildlife around the Waterfall Villas!

The Cascadas Farallas Waterfall makes its way to the Baru River at the bottom of the mountain gorge also visible from our property, and then it winds like a snake to the ocean, and Dominical Beach. When you wash your hair at the Waterfall Villas you will feel the difference this makes! Not only will you be using chlorine free spring water, but also all of our artesian soap and shampoo is made locally, with no chemicals – only pure local made coconut oils and essential oils. Our Lang y Lang comes from Sabina at Finca Ipe, who lovingly collects thousands of flowers each year from her farm and provides us with this amazing oil that we also use at our Spa.

In Costa Rica, many efforts are being made to save pristine watershed areas such as Cascadas Farallas – part of the Biological Corridor of the Tapir that stretches from the Osa Peninsula to the mountains. ASANA the main conservation group in the area, has now extended its efforts to the Sevegre River, a unique biological zone blessed with many rare birds, and is very close to having this area pronounced a biological protected area by UNESCO. To have an area recognized by UNESCO requires a huge effort in educating the local population, and working with them in grass-roots sustainability meetings.
Some of the 4,000 local inhabitants of the Sevegre River live at the source, where there has been an unprecedented rise in trout farming. Fish farming at the source is lively hood for many people, but trout farming, as cattle farming result in runoff of chemicals. At the source of the Sevegre, this type of farming has required the transplantation of the nests some of the world’s most rare birds – the Quetzals that are prevalent in the area, to make room for artificial pools for raising trout. Fish farming also pollutes at the source of the river. Education about filtration systems, and other alternatives is a huge and slow process.

On the way to the Waterfall Villas in Costa Rica’s South Pacific region, you can visit the source of the Sevegre River in San Gerardo de Dota in the highlands of the Sierra del Muerte mountains. We would like to remind are eco-minded travelers to please try to find places to stay that do not raise trout or at least, have put in the new methods to filter the water. It is important to support real eco-hotels (beyond what certifications they have) that are truly on board with saving both the fabulous Quetzals and not polluting the water systems.

Waterfall Villas is the first corporate sponsor of ASANA committed to the preservation of natural areas in the South Pacific of Costa Rica, in the most dense biological diverse area of our planet. Waterfall Villas offers White Water Rafting in the Sevegre River, a non-obtrusive activity as part of our Adventure Tour portfolio.

To visit their website: Cascadas Farallas Waterfall Villas

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Hydroponic Gardening for Sustainable Community Development at Finca Rosa Blanca Plantation & Inn in Costa Rica

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Buy a Bag, Grow a Garden
Hydroponic Gardening for Sustainable Community Development

Introduction
At Finca Rosa Blanca we have a long history of working towards the well being of our surrounding community. We have worked with the area schools, the local food bank, the environmental group “Patrullas Ecologicas”, and the senior citizens home. Through the years we have improved infrastructure for these groups and increased their environmental awareness; we have reforested and improved waste recycling; and we have provided skills training and opportunities for improving income generation. Our latest project of hydroponic gardening will augment interest in more sustainable living while at the same time implement an activity that in itself leads to more sustainable community development.

Requiring relatively small space and minimal materials hydroponic gardens are a source of fresh produce contributing to healthier diets and increasing local food production, which we know helps reduce the carbon footprint. These gardens are simple and fun to establish and maintain, and can even beautify a space.

Project Purpose
Buy a Bag, Grow a Garden involves community members and children in the production of fresh produce for local consumption, and in the improvement of waste recycling in order to increase awareness of more sustainable living and improve nutritional value of local diets. It responds directly to the needs of the Santa Barbara community to develop appropriate solid waste management processes as well as the impoverished community’s need to supplement diet at minimal costs.

How does it work? Produce will be grown by the local environmental group Patrullas Ecologicas. All produce grown by the Patrullas Ecologicas will be donated to the food bank, where many of the children and youth of this environmental group receive one free hot meal a day. In return for receiving fresh produce the food bank and its clients will commit to the improvement of their recycling center so that it may adequately receive the community’s recyclables. These recyclables are sold to the larger companies that process the material and the income earned is re-invested in the operation of the food bank.
Finca Rosa Blanca and its gardening and sustainability teams provide the space and know-how for creating the hydroponics garden and they also provide the guidance for improved management of the recycling center.

Why do this? Buy a Bag, Plant a Bag is a relevant undertaking for sustainable living in our community for the following reasons.

It encourages better solid waste management among the community.

The project will directly help increase the amount of recyclable waste collected in the community. Besides guiding improved management of the facility, Finca Rosa Blanca, with Patrullas Ecologicas will initiate a community wide campaign to teach and encourage Santa Barbara residents to separate wastes and bring them to the recycling center.

It increases social and financial sustainability by teaching the value of active participation in ones well being.

The project aims to increase the social cohesion among the aforementioned community groups by switching the mentality of “living from a handout” to actively participating in one’s well being. Some of the clients of the food bank will be growing part of their food and others will be helping generate funds for the maintenance of the food bank, by ensuring proper and responsible management of the recycling center.
The additional money generated from the sale of recyclables is re-invested in the operation and maintenance of the food bank. Further, the produce for the food bank will enhance the nutritional value of the food served for the community without incrementing costs for the food bank.

It creates the opportunity for others to improve access and consumption of fresh produce

Lastly, Buy a Bag, Grow a Garden also aims to generate interest in hydroponic gardening as a method to improve access and consumption of fresh produce among other community members. Once the gardens have been set up and are functioning, Finca Rosa Blanca will offer, to those that are interested, the technical lessons so as to help individuals of the community set-up their own gardens.

Submitted by Teri Osman Jampol, owner of Finca Rosa Blanca Plantation

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