Big thanks to UNH student Henry Herndon for making this video about the UNH field course called Agriculture and Development in the Neotropics that Andrew Ogden just taught in Costa Rica
Waking up was not difficult as we indulged in the rejuvenating fruits purchased yesterday for breakfast. After some coffee and maracuya we hopped on the bus to travel North to Rancho Margot. Along the way we made a spontaneous visit to a small, family operated dairy farm in San Carlos. The owner, Roberto, was thrilled to share his knowledge and passion with us. His cows, a mix of Jersey and Brahman, had ample land to graze on, and perfectly demonstrated the idea of “happy cows.”
When asked if he was happy with his career, Roberto told us he was proud and happy to work with his family, and provide for them. Roberto was also happy to express his love of the land with us. He owns a lot of land that he doesn’t plan on transforming to pasture, because he grasps the importance of a forested landscape, and its vital role in environmental health. The experience was both inspiring and humbling, as Roberto expressed his enthusiasm and ardor for his small scale farm.
We continued the trek to Rancho Margot, a small, sustainable eco lodge quite literally in the middle of nowhere. We observed the landscape along the way and were lucky enough to see a sloth! Upon arriving we had a delicious (and nutritious!) lunch, and unpacked into our bunkrooms. A tour hosted by informative and very friendly tour guides gave us insight into the operation. Rancho Margot strives to keep its system closed, growing the majority of the food served, and heating the water for daily use via waste from the animals (cows, pigs, chickens). The electricity is hydropowered, and the landscape aims to preserve and promote biodiversity. Every small building is topped with a roof that is literally lush with greenery. It is a utopia for anyone intrigued by the majesty of plants; specifically, everyone on this trip. In addition to this, Rancho Margot immediately made us aware of the kindness, genuineness, and intelligence of Ticos. We are thrilled to explore this beautiful area.
We wasted no time delving into the many academic opportunities Costa Rica has to offer. Our first stop was the Tico Plant in San Jose. Tico Plant is a greenhouse operation owned by greeenhouses in the United States. The operation grows cuttings for ornamental plants that are eventually shipped to the greenhouses in the states. About 3.5 million cuttings per week are transported to the United States during the high season, which begins in December and declines in March. After that we traveled to the center of San Jose and had a typical Costa Rican lunch at La Casona. Feeling refueled from the beans and rice, we ventured to Mercado Central to check out what the market had to offer. Being a big group in a busy place, we hit the road pretty quickly to find a less crowded market, Mercado Borbon. There, we were able to try all sorts of new fruits like maracuya (sour passionfruit), tree tomato, cape gooseberry, carambola (starfruit), and little bananas. We were all amazed by the flavors of the fruit- most of the fruits we had never tried before. After seeing some more of the city we went back to Alajuela to have dinner and discuss Costa Rica’s economy.
I am happy to report that the University of New Hampshire course I am instructing in Costa Rica is officially underway. The course is called SAFS 510:Agriculture and Development in the Neotropics. Each day of the course, we will feature a student blogger who will share their experiences and observations with you. Keep up with this exciting course right here and live vicariously through this blog as we adventure all around Costa Rica examining agro-ecosystems and assessing their sustainability. Thanks for following and please share this with who you think may find this interesting. Pura Vida,
UTSI is proud to announce an exciting new tropical field course. UTSI co-founder Andrew Ogden also teaches at the University of New Hampshire in the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems major (www.sustainableag.unh.edu/). This January, Andrew will instruct a 3 week field course in Costa Rica called SAFS 510: Agriculture and Development in the Neotropics. This is a 4 credit course which runs from Dec 29 2014-Jan 17th 2015. We will travel as a group to diverse sites around Costa Rica. Sites to be visited on the course include Rancho Margot in La Fortuna (www.RanchoMargot.com), San Carlos, University of Georgia’s campus in San Luis (www.externalaffairs.uga.edu/costa_rica/), the Uvita Tropical Studies Institute (www.utsi.org), Fundacion Neotropica’s stations in Rincon de Osa and Santa Maria de Dota (www.neotropica.org/), and a visit to INTA’s station in the Caribbean slope town of Guapiles (www.inta.go.cr/). Topics to be explored tropical food production, sustainable development, tropical ecology, culture and more. Application and sign-ups will begin in mid-September. Please write to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.