Eco Rating Finca Rosa Blanca

Name of property Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn
Person completing this form Teri Jampol
Position owner
Address of property Santa Barbara de Heredia
Country Costa Rica
Phone number including country code and area code +506 2269-9392
Web site Finca Rosa Blanca
E-mail info@fincarosablanca.com
Type of property Country Inn with Coffee Plantation
Number of rooms or cottages 13
Maximum number of guests 40
Eco memberships The International Eco-tourism Society, The Eco-tourism Society of Costa Rica
Eco ratings, certifications, awards Five Green Leaves in the Certification of Sustainable Tourism Costa Rica, The Rainforest Alliance as Sustainable Standard-Setter 2010
Eco Rating at Eco Tropical Resorts: 5 out of 5
  • Do you have a written environmental or social sustainability policy?     YES

If yes, please attach.
http://www.fincarosablanca.com/pdf/general-sustainable-policies.pdf

  • Do you have a written environmental management system?                  YES

If yes, please attach.
http://www.fincarosablanca.com/pdf/general-sustainable-policies.pdf

  • Describe the property – aim, size, facilities, amount of land owned and leased  (150 words max) We are a 13 room inn with 32 full time local employees located on a 15 hectare organic, certified and shade grown coffee plantation offering what is sometimes called “agro ecotourism”. We are a carbon neutral company and members of the Costa Rican Network of Private Reserves having planted more than 3000 native trees in our coffee fields. The two owners, Glenn Jampol and Teresa Osman are Costa Rican citizens and Mr. Jampol is the current president of the National Ecotourism Association. The Inn holds the highest ranking in the country with a perfect 100% score in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program. The hotel’s earnings provide the income for the financial stability and for the environmental, cultural and educational projects that are the fabric of our mission and policies; to leave the minimum impact, to train and educate our guests, employees and community and to protect the environment.
  • Describe the location, including distance to nearest town and size of town (100 words max) The hotel & farm is 1 kilometre from Santa Barbara de Heredia in the mountains outside of the capitol of San Jose approximately 20 miles.  The town is approximately 10,000 people in the area.
  • Describe WHY you made the decision to develop an eco resort (100 word max)

We wanted to give back and share with our fellow Costa Ricans the richness we have experienced here.  We wanted to protect the incredible bio-diversity which existed here and the water sources for future generations.  We wanted to share the Costa Rican culture with our guests and we wanted to teach our guests how to live gently on the earth.

Introduction to the Butterfly Club’s Eco Rating

The Butterfly Club Eco Rating has five equally-weighted categories:

  • Energy;
  • Water;
  • Recycling and waste;
  • Land and nature conservation; and
  • Community.

Each category has five levels, designated by one to five butterflies.  Through self assessment, resort operators completing this rating will determine their own levels within each category based on their responses to items listed below.

Two categories – energy and water – have similar rating systems with Levels 1 and 2 addressing conservation of existing resources, and Levels 3, 4 and 5 addressing creation of renewable energy or capturing water.

Level five in every category also requires written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record consumption; (2) test and apply additional conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific targets.   We require a copy of your policies if you achieve level 5 in any category.

Eco Rating Finca Rosa Blanca Energy

Levels 1 and 2 – conservation: Check all that apply:

_x__  use natural air circulation and fans, not air conditioners
__x_  use natural light during the day
_x__  minimize use of fossil-fuel powered vehicles, machines and equipment
_x__  use “on demand” or solar heating for hot water
_x__  air dry clothes/linens
___  wash dishes by hand
__x_  use energy efficient appliances and electronics
___x  use low wattage fluorescent or LED light bulbs
___  change linens, tablecloths, napkins upon request
_x__  switch off lights when not used
Other energy conservation activities? Please list:

Level 1 = four or fewer energy conservation activities

Level 2 = five or more energy conservation activities

Levels 3, 4 and 5 – renewable energy: Indicate proportion (%) of energy from each source:

_20__  solar
___  wind
___  hydro
___  generator
___80  public utility
Other energy sources? Please list:

100% TOTAL
How were these proportions developed?

Level 3 = renewable energy is employed and is less than 1/3 of all energy

Level 4 = renewable energy constitutes 1/3 – 2/3 of all energy

Level 5 = renewable energy constitutes 2/3 or more of all energy.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record energy consumption; (2) test and apply additional energy conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific energy targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Energy Level 5 (required).
In 2008 the Hotel joined the Carbon Footprint Mitigation. We started working within the parameters that same year and as a result we obtained a high ranking and we continue to work to improve our results. Our practices aim at the monitoring of consumption of fossil fuels: In order to mitigate the impact, we have set several practices into action: We plan our transportation and errand routes in advance to maximize effectiveness, keep daily records of distances and fuel consumption, and we organize the schedule for drivers so that they may deliver or pick up goods and transfer guests while driving the shortest and most traffic free route. We now need one less vehicle. Additionally, we no longer allow vehicles to enter the hotel’s reception and main building areas, thus keeping our air cleaner. An electric golf cart now transports both guests and their luggage to the villas and suites or junior suites in the main building.
The reforestation project we began in 2004 is paramount to the mitigation of carbon emissions. We plant approximately one thousand new trees each year in our coffee plantation and along river banks and fresh water springs. We use an ionization system to sanitize the water in the swimming pool that allows us to avoid the use of chemicals, chlorine or algaecides and reduce the proliferation of algae and other organisms. We use solar panels to heat all of the hotel’s hot water used by the laundry, guests, restaurant, spa and swimming pool.

Your Energy Level (select 1 – 5) =   5

Eco Rating Finca Rosa Blanca Water

Levels 1 and 2 – conservation: Check all that apply:

_x_  low flow faucets and showerheads
__  x low water use toilets
__x  change linens, towels, tablecloths, and napkins upon request
__x_use table mats that can be wiped and not laundered
__x  use biodegradable laundry detergent, dish soap and hand soap
__x  treat swimming pool with chlorine-free processes
Other water conservation activities?  Please list.

Level 1 = three or fewer water conservation activities

Level 2 = four or more water conservation activities
Water consumption is monitored daily to detect potential leaks and unnecessary waste and our guests are asked to conserve water. All toilets, water faucets and showers are equipped to minimize water waste. Our guests can choose not to wash sheets and towels. All cleaning products are certified biodegradable. Electricity is monitored based upon the number of guests so that corrective actions can be implemented to minimize consumption and maximize effectiveness. All light fixtures at the hotel are equipped with energy saving light bulbs and the design of the buildings and laundry stations use natural ventilation and daylight. Guests are provided with oxo-biodegradable water bottles and are encouraged to use and refill these.  We encourage our guests to take our sustainability guided tour to visit our ionized pool, sun drying area for laundry, solar panels, organic greenhouse and gardens and worm-bed composting.  We use a water-treatment plant to process waste water.

Levels 3, 4 and 5 – capture and treat fresh water and manage waste water. Capture water: Indicate proportion (%) of water from each source:

___  spring
___  river
___x  rain
__x_  reuse gray
___x  public utility
Other water sources? Please list.

100% TOTAL

Fresh water treatment: how is captured fresh water treated?
__x_  naturally.  Indicate method: charcoal, ultraviolet light, other? List:      ionized
___  chemically.  List chemicals used:

Waste water management:
___  septic tanks
___  cesspools
___x  other? List methods: water treatment plant

Level 3: Water is captured (from springs, rivers, rain or prior use) and constitutes less than 1/3 of water from all sources.  Water is treated chemically.  Water disposal does not minimize damage to coral reefs and rain forests

Level 4:  Captured water constitutes 1/3 to 2/3 of all water.  Water is treated naturally. Water disposal minimizes damage to coral reefs and rain forests

Level 5:  Captured water constitutes more than 2/3 of all water.  Water is treated naturally. Water disposal minimizes damage to coral reefs and rain forests.   In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record water consumption; (2) test and apply additional water conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific water targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Water Level 5 (required).
We encourage our guests to participate in water preservation as water is a non renewable resource. We offer our guests the alternative to delay washing of linens and towels.  Signs are posted in every room and bathroom as well as in employee’s areas to remind them of the importance of water preservation. We have installed water saving bathroom toilets, shower heads and faucets with aerators so that less water is actually dispensed yet the stream feels fuller. We measure water consumption every two weeks. All leaks and malfunctions are repaired immediately. Performance and consumption of water and laundry loads are adjusted to specifications to ensure optimal performance of our equipment. Endemic native plants adorn our gardens; species and varieties of native tropical plants that are resilient and that need very little irrigation during our dry season. We reuse the water from our water treatment plant to irrigate when needed.

Your Water Level (select 1 – 5): 5

Eco Rating Finca Rosa Blanca Recycling and waste

Check all that apply:

___x   use durable service items, e.g. cups, glasses, dishes, tableware, storage items
___x   buy fresh and local to reduce packaging and emissions from transportation
__x_   purchase in bulk to reduce packaging
___x   recycle paper, glass, plastic, aluminum
___ x  minimize emissions from fossil-fuel powered vehicles, machines & equipment
___x   zero waste in the kitchen
___x   serve local water, not bottled water
___x   cleaning products are biodegradable
___x   compost organic matter
Other methods to recycle waste? Please list.

Level 1 = four or fewer recycling activities

Level 2 = five recycling activities

Level 3 = six recycling activities

Level 4 = seven recycling activities

Level 5 = eight or more recycling activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record recycling and waste; (2) test and apply additional recycling and waste conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific recycling and waste targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Recycling and Waste Level 5 (required).

Your Recycling and Waste Level (select 1 – 5): 5
Note: The hotel has so much control you organize and inorganic wastes generated from its operation, also there is a recycling program they are part of guests and collaborators, where each department and have their room with their respective labeling containers and and also has a recycling plan and a purchasing policy for reducing unrecoverable waste.
Waste Recycling Practices Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn
Our recycling activities include waste recycling converted into:
Fertilizer for our small coffee plantation and organic garden of herbs and vegetables.
Solid waste is placed in a special compost area for that purpose and include organic waste from the kitchen, fireplace ashes, soil from our property and at times calcium to neutralize the acids.
We also use all the horse manure, straw, and sawdust from the stables to produce an organic compound with the branches and leaves of the garden to feed to our red worms in our vermiculture area. This organic compound produces natural and mineral fertilizers which are used in the garden and around plants in the gardens of the hotel.
We also recycle all non-organic waste such as glass, plastic, cardboard, metal and paper because we have an exclusive area for this purpose. We choose the brand of many of the products based on the selection of our suppliers who guarantee such products as biodegradable 

Eco Rating Finca Rosa Blanca Land and nature conservation

Check all that apply:

___x   minimize tree removal when building
__x_   use only botanical (plant-based) herbicides & pesticides in garden & grounds
___x   maintain organic gardens as food source for resort
__x_   use biodegradable cleaning products
__x_   minimize external illumination
___x   take additional specific actions to preserve the local habitat.
__x_   Landscaping with native plants
Please list actions
and projects:
Level 1: one or two land and nature conservation activities

Level 2: three land and nature conservation activities

Level 3: four land and nature conservation activities

Level 4: five land and nature conservation activities
We are committed to the preservation of our biological diversity and have completed major reforestation projects with local school children and the community on our coffee farm and at the hotel by planting over five thousand native trees that host native and migrant species of birds, insects and small animals. We only use biodegradable cleaning products and we use no pesticides, herbicides, fungicides or agrochemicals on our farms, greenhouse or gardens thus protecting the water table and the quality of air and soil. Our gardens are labeled so that guests can identify the foliage and we try to plant endemically.
We are active members of the Network of Private Reserves and the Blue Ecological Flag, programs which protect the environment through education and good practices. Guests and visitors are informed that extraction of local flora and fauna is not allowed and warned against “poaching” practices as per our country’s legislation.

  • Reforestation of trees each year in conjunction with Community Schools.
    Native species predominate.
  •  Using biodegradable cleaning products (Part of the purchasing policy of the hotel).
  • Large green areas and gardens, in addition to a coffee plantation organic certified by Oko Garantie BSC and Rain Forest Alliance.
  • The planting of native trees and plants allow greater biodiversity of species of mammals, arachnids, insects and birds.
  •   Bird watching Tour has managed to observe more than 100 species of birds.
  •  Micro biological corridors that have been created by planting native species and trees.
  •  External lighting controlled by timers to turn off during the night, and covered low wattage lights that do not cause damage to the animal species.
  •   Drip System and Hydroponics vegetable garden that generates the vegetables and herbs for the restaurant of the Hotel.

sustainable features of the physical property and operation itself include:

  1. Solar panels to heat water coupled with energy saving auxiliary on demand heating systems
  2. Underground electrical systems that do not interfere with surrounding wildlife or endanger the coffee workers
  3. Our own organic shade grown certified coffee in menu offerings, to share with the guests and spa treatments
  4. Recycling of the coffee “pulp” to be used as fertilizer
  5. Copper/Silver Ionization system to clean swimming pool water
  6. Recycled materials throughout the grounds such as roof tiles and waste receptacles
  7. 1 gallon flush toilets are used throughout the inn
  8. Philanthropic donation programs to help the schools and our community
  9. All of our employees are from the local area so we can “recycle” our earnings back into our community
  10. Education of our employees, guests and neighbors about good practices
  11. Linens made from Bamboo fiber (a very sustainable product)
  12. An advanced vermiculture-based (worm beds) compost system to recycle organic waste
  13. A greenhouse where organic vegetables and herbs are grown for our restaurant. The soil comes from composted material prepared in our recycling area.

Level 5: six or more land and nature conservation activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record land and nature conservation activities; (2) test and apply additional land and nature conservation methods; and (3) work towards specific land and nature conservation targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Land and Nature Conservation Level 5 (required).

Your Land and Nature Conservation Level (select 1 – 5): 5

Eco Rating Finca Rosa Blanca Community

This category addresses policies and activities regarding staff, guests, suppliers and other members of the community.

Check all activities that apply:

__x_  hire staff residing near the resort          __100_% local nationals
___x  use local suppliers                                100___% purchased goods produced locally
___x  re-invest resort income locally            __100_% income re-invested locally
___x  pay above local prevailing wage
___x  pay into local social security
___x  provide health insurance or coverage
___x  use regular staff meetings to educate staff about sustainable processes throughout the resort, in the garden, with waste disposal, etc
___x  provide educational awareness programs for staff, guests, suppliers and other members of the local community
___  provide sustainable transport to work for staff
__x_  take additional specific actions to support the local community. Please list actions and projects. We give workshops to community on recycling, organic agriculture and hidroponics
___  Have enrolled your staff in any personal green training/certification schemes such as ecohelpline.com green leaf certification.

Level 1: one or two community activities

Level 2: three to five community activities

Level 3: six to seven community activities

Level 4: eight to nine community activities
We have worked with Escuela Jesus, the primary school in the Town of Jesus for 15 years.  The school has a population of 500 children from the ages of 5 to 13 years, encompassing kindergarten through the sixth grade.  In the last 4 years we have concentrated on a Program called the Ecological Blue Flag Program for Schools which encourages the school to improve the sanitation and water and electricity savings in their physical plant, to offer “environmental education” and campaigns to clean the rivers, reforest with native plants and trees, to create a safety plan for the school in case of emergencies, recycling center for solid waste and environmental education for the family in conjunction with the school.
We have helped the school to buy and install new water-saving hardware in the bathrooms, food prep areas and maintenance areas, recycling garbage cans, bio-degradable products for cleaning in public areas, prizes and incentives for the children most active in the program and field trips to the hotel to view our installations as well as national and botanical parks.  We have helped them start and maintain a recycling center and provide the paint and expertise to paint murals at their school with ecological themes.  Since 2003, each year we bring all of the children with their teachers to our coffee farms to plant trees and celebrate the day with a special picnic. We have worked with the school to teach them new systems of hydroponics using recycled material and are in the process of setting up a hydroponic garden at the school to provide the cafeteria with fresh produce and teach the children innovative and space saving horticulture.

We are working with the Escuela Juan Mora Fernandez in the town of Santa Barbara for over 5 years.  This elementary school has a population of 1,200 students between the ages of 5 and 13 years.  We have helped them start a recycling center and are assisting them with their application for the Ecological Blue Flag Program.  We are guiding them with the logistics of the application and the presentation of the documentation, helping to train the children who will lead the program, and teaching them how to separate the recycling.  We have donated organic compost for their medicinal plant garden and are providing prizes for the most active children in the program.  We have worked with the school to teach them new systems of hydroponics using recycled material and are in the process of setting up a hydroponic garden at the school.  We bring the sixth grade classes and the kindergarten classes to the coffee farms to reforest along with our agronomist to talk about organic farming.

We work with the high school in Santa Barbara, Colegio Santa Barbara, with training to start their own Ecological Blue Flag Program and have donated computer tables for their computer lab.  During the last two years we have brought their folkloric dance troupe to dance at the hotel twice monthly for the guests and we have invited their cimmarron band ( a rustic brass band) to play for our guests when we have the mascarada troupe (dancers with giant puppet heads) to entertain, also twice monthly on the weekends.  The high school students have painted murals for us at Finca Rosa Blanca and produced flyers on ecological themes.

We have done “Good Ecological Practices” training sessions with groups from outside the country in sustainable farming and tourism and in exchange these groups have donated books to the local schools.  In addition, many of our guests arrive with books for the schools, soccer balls and uniforms, games and art materials and spend time in the schools through our programs working with the children and their teachers and playing games.

Since 2003, we have with the help of the school children of Barrio Jesus and Santa Barbara and our guests who have wanted to help, planted over 6,000 native trees on our two farms and the hotel.  Each school will send representatives to two day-long educational sessions at Finca Rosa Blanca on “Green House Gas Effects” presented by the University of Costa Rica and “Protection of Flora & Fauna” in Costa Rica presented by Martin Campos, Park Ranger for Braulio Carrillo National Park and representative of the Department of the Environment.

We support a group of 100 children from Barrio Jesus, called “Patrulla Ecologica de Jesus” or the Jesus Eco Patrol.  This group gathers every week at the community center to talk about the environment, clean the rivers of garbage, the streets of Jesus, recycle and paint murals and make art, among many projects.  We have hosted them at Finca Rosa Blanca for several day long events and they are invited to each of our sessions on hydroponics, gardening, global warming and flora & fauna.  These children belong to the Children’s Food Bank for which we provide the food to feed over 75 disadvantaged children one hot meal a day, five days a week.

Our Coffee Farm workers collaborate with our recycling program at Finca Rosa Blanca in which we collect the recyclable material from each employee every 15 days. Each year we provide a physician to do a physical exam for all of our employees or allow them a day to go to the local clinic.  We have brought a doctor to the hotel to inoculate our employees against swine flu and in one case the measles. We only hire locally during the harvest period (it is most usual in Costa Rica to hire pickers from Nicaragua).  We do not permit children younger than 16 years old to work on the farms or the hotel unless accompanied by their parents and during holidays.

We include our farm workers in all of our training sessions in “Good Environmental Practices”, Health & Occupational Good Practices, and Protection of Flora & Fauna.  We provide our farm workers with the proper equipment to do their jobs, including rain protection, and boots and goggles when cutting or pruning bushes and trees.  We provide a bathroom and shower and lockers for their use as well as covered areas to rest and eat. The farm workers are very involved in the reforestation of the farms, from planning the planting of the trees to helping the children plant, to caring for the trees into the future.

Part of the organic coffee farm is the Casa de Café, our coffee roasting and packing house which also includes a small museum where we demonstrate aspects of Costa Rican culture with antiques and photographs.  Each year on important Costa Rican holidays we use the museum to demonstrate the special celebratory foods, costumes and artwork.  We invite our employees and our guests to share the culture and history of Costa Rica and the culture of coffee in the Central Highlands.

Level 5: ten or more community activities.  In addition, there are written sustainability policies or environmental management systems to: (1) monitor and record community activities; (2) test and apply additional methods to support the community; and (3) work towards specific community targets.

Attach a copy of your policies if you achieve Community Level 5 (required).

Your Community Level (select 1 – 5): 5

YOUR OVERALL ECO SCORE (add your level for each category and divide by 5and enter the result with the decimal point, e.g. 3.6): 5

We have three final questions which are not part of the eco rating: 

Please describe your single most important eco achievement:
Our organic sustainable coffee farm:
What type of environmental impact has your commitment to certification made?
The Rain Forest Alliance certification has given us a very useful tool for guiding not only the methodology of the daily work in our coffee farm, but also the information and training for all of our employees who use and follow these  parameters to create and maintain a healthy organic coffee farm.  Another example is the reutilization of the organic waste products that  are produced by the kitchen and restaurant of our hotel which when correctly handled,  can be used as organic fertilizers which achieve superior results in the plant, the soil and the harvest.

Have forests been conserved?
When the coffee farms were purchased in 2003 there were many Poró trees that had been severely pruned and which did not adequately shade the coffee and over the next several years we implemented a policy of allowing the growth of the trees that existed in the coffee field and also planting many species of native trees. Through this variation we created a symbiosis between the coffee and the trees while simultaneously attracting many new species of aviculture and producing a very pleasing aesthetic environment.

Has biodiversity been protected?
Through our policy of reforestation with native species of trees, we have been able to increase the biodiversity of the farm and hotel gardens while increasing the balance of soil conditions and ecology that reforestation spawns.
Furthermore, due to the increased number of species of flora and fauna, the biology has been kept in equilibrium and thus the biodiversity has become more profound.

Is there any highly visible change in the natural environment?
The most obvious visible change in the natural environment has been the augmentation of many diverse species of symbiotic trees, plants, and flowers including flowering vines, and thus variations of light and shade which then attracts a panoply of fauna and abundant bird life while increasing the aesthetic of the workplace.

What social benefits has your commitment had?
Finca Rosa Blanca has always had a strong consciousness regarding the social benefits to the community which our coffee farm and hotel provide.  We have extended this communal commitment to all of our employees that work in the coffee farm and for the hotel.  The Certification for Sustainable Tourism and the Rainforest Alliance certification, as well as the Certifications for Bandera Azul at the hotel,  not only help us to talk to our guests and employees regarding our social consciousness but also allows our employees, who are all local residents, to share in the pride of our hard earned certifications, understanding why they are asset and how they help the community and the environment in which they live. Our farm and hotel employees have learned the benefits of recycling, and conserving water and the positive results of organic sustainable farming; maintaining clean rivers and springs and keeping our properties chemical free. We bring the local school children to plant native trees on the farms every year and teach them about the permaculture which exists in the farm and the need to protect the nature around them.

Have any unique or unexpected benefits come of this work?
We have discovered that our employees are involved personally by participating in ways to make their jobs and their personal goals more sustainable and efficient.  The certification by Rainforest Alliance has increased the awareness and the desire of our employees to participate in all facets of the holistic work required in a sustainable organic coffee plantation.  Our employees have made many contributions to the biological information which our guides use on  bird watching tours with our guests, identifying some of the unusual birds they have seen or heard in the forest and coffee fields and have shared their local knowledge and the common names attributed to these birds.

Have women benefited from this work?
Our policy at Finca Rosa Blanca is one of equality and tolerance for all of our workers regardless of their gender, their race, their color, their sexual orientation, or their place of residence.  Obviously, women benefit from these kinds of policies, as should all employees. We also give priority in the hiring of coffee pickers to women in the community.

Do you have a story from the local community?
Our social commitment has been based on community education in the area of waste management, water conservation as well as our program of annual reforestation with the school children and the opening of several collection centers for recycling.
We began working with a local family which had opened a cafeteria in their home where they fed up to 75 children, often their mothers and many seniors who did not have the financial resources to eat a daily hot meal.  We have provided all of the food to be prepared daily for the Comedor de Ninos (Children’s Cafeteria) and instruction in crafts that can be created in the home and sold to support the family, including rag rugs which we use and sell in the hotel.  With our training in separating the garbage generated from The Comedor and the community they have begun their own recycling center where they sell the plastic, paper and glass to generate more funds for the project. The children, their mothers and the workers at the Comedor have learned to save and reuse much of their solid refuse and to recycle and sell the rest.  In addition they are using the organic refuse to make compost and grow some of the vegetables they use daily.

What economic improvements have you seen in the local community?
A very important factor in any kind of sustainable policy is the employment of local people in the community and surrounding areas.  This allows for the recycling of money back into the area which avoids what is commonly called “leakage”.  In our hotel and coffee farm, 99% of our employees live in our community or the surrounding areas.  Following the parameters of the Rainforest Alliance certification, we have fomented the program called Blue Ecological Flag (BAE) in our community, a program in Costa Rica which certifies the hygiene, the cleanliness, and the protection of the environment in beaches, small towns and communities, hotels and schools.  The result of our participation in the community using the methodology of the Rainforest Alliance certification, as well as the Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST), has resulted in our community, the elementary school, as well as our hotel and coffee farm earning the top score in this coveted Blue Ecological Flag.
Furthermore, through the hotel’s program of complete recycling of our organic and solid waste, we have included the recycling of our employee’s solid waste when it is separated.  Through this participation, the employees have learned not only to recycle their own garbage, but to understand some of the challenges of organizing and managing this waste.
The economic benefits of these kinds of programs, lowers the daily cost for the employees and teaches them to reduce and to reuse; a financially sustainable system for everyday life.  As a consequence of recycling money within the community, the hotel as well as the employees, tend to make their purchases in the neighbourhood which is an investment in the local economy of the community.

Are participating workers better able to support themselves?
Through the implementation of good practices, which would include recycling and reusing, the conservation of electricity and water and buying products in bulk when possible, the financial bottom line of the workers is increased.  Furthermore, because the coffee field and hotel are both located in an agricultural area, many of our employees have small parcels of land which they use to augment their salary through the production of vegetables and fruits for their own consumption.  The habits they learn in organic sustainable agriculture, such as the protection of the environment and healthy ways to use and reuse the soil, ultimately add to the production yield of their products and reduce their spending on these items in the local supermarkets.  Many of the sustainability infrastructures of the hotel and the farm that are used to reduce the costs of heating water and reducing electricity and gas consumption are seen as viable options for employees when they are remodelling or building their own homes.  The overall concept which they have absorbed through working and participating in responsible certified tourism and agriculture is one of innovation: reuse, recycle, and reinvent.

Have increased revenues led to increased investment in public services or in other successful ventures?
Sustainability is good business, not only in tourism and agriculture in general, but also it allows a company to invest in its community and its inhabitants.  We have improved the roads, bridges, garbage retrieval and phone service through the cooperation of the municipality based on the hotel and farms’ financial success and the consequential sharing of this success with the community, schools and senior citizen centers.
At Finca Rosa Blanca, we offer a program based on Traveler’s Philanthropy, which allows the guests and people who enjoy the coffee tour and hotel to donate money for all the various projects that the hotel and coffee farm are involved in.  As our net profits increase, we will have more funds to dedicate to these projects, which generally encourage education and protection of the environment.

Indicate additional sustainable practices that you plan to institute within the next 6 months.
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” (an environmental club made up of community children between the ages of 5-16 years old), 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.

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Annex A:
Business Policy

Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn believe that the exploitation of human beings in any form, particularly sexual, especially when applied to children and adolescents, conflicts with the fundamental aims of tourism and is the negation of the essence for this reason, in compliance with Law No. 7899 Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors and the Law No. 8590 on Strengthening the fight against commercial sexual exploitation of minors and Article 4 of our Code of Conduct, we will cancel the contract with companies or individuals that somehow contribute, facilitate, tolerate or promote the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents.
Any activity related to the commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents will be immediately reported to the staff of Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn and the authorities.
Our policy also extends to the protection and conservation of the environment, like carbon mitigation in all our activities necessary for the operation of the Hotel, for this we have clauses to know:

Support all activities to promote safety, prevent, ameliorate, replenish or remedy environmental and social damage, assess and improve these practices.
Respect the environmental legal requirements of Costa Rica and promote knowledge of its internal rules to the institution and community
Promote environmental awareness and mandatory compliance with this policy and the rules and regulations previously established specific
Maintain a harmonious and transparent with the social environment, especially with communities and groups directly related to the projects I activities of the institution, respecting ethnic and cultural diversity of each population.
Spreading the ideas of sustainability at the enterprise level, placing us as a role model.

This will be the guide to respect and comply by all employees, suppliers and guests, comes into force from the moment that you are aware.
It will be updated according to the needs of our hotel and the dictates of law.

Annex B Purchasing Policy Finca Rosa Blanca

Ø All new providers should be subjected to study before any negotiation
Ø Producers in the Heredia area have priority over other
Ø The organic or in transition have priority over other
Ø Require organic certificates or transition before buying any product
Ø Preferably fresh and seasonal products
Ø In any case prefer large containers and preferably returnable
Ø Refuse all products which become trash containers
Preferably Ø glass containers to aluminum
Ø All cleaning products must have certificates updated biodegradability.
Ø Do not allow products whose ingredients have brighteners, phosphates, bleach or corrosive and toxic elements
Ø Cosmetic products must be bio-degradable and natural
Ø Our suppliers must have environmental policies that can  prove
Ø No product should present environmental contraindications
Ø The role of everyday office supplies must be recycled, chlorine-free
Ø Must use reusable and refillable containers for butter, honey, sauces, sugar, etc..
Ø refillable containers for shampoo, conditioner and soap and lotion
Ø No use of disposable products that are not identified with the logo of Oxo Bio Degradable or materials that are environmentally friendly (banana fiber, corn fiber, etc..).
Ø Find providers to establish routes for the distribution of products