Pura Vida, Part 9: – Sustainably Designed Farm

Join us as we we explore Casey and Sebastian’s sustainably designed farm.

Hi there. Paul Carter here in Perez Zeledon, Costa Rica. And today we’ll be exploring Pura Vida on an organic farm owned by Casey and Sebastian.

(Sebastian) Welcome to finca (estate) SDR. I’m Sebastian. This is Casey, my wife, little Robbie, and Amata Luz. And we live here on finca SDR.

SDR stands for Sustainable, or Sustainably Designed Resources. It is a 1.4 hectare farm. And here we have it planted in coffee, fruit trees, vegetables, and occasionally corn or beans and bananas. Some critters. We got some goats, we got some pigs, we got some chickens.

Well Casey grew up here in Costa Rica. I don’t know if I should be speaking for her, but she moved here when she was eight with her mom and the rest of her family. 

I got here maybe eleven or twelve years ago as an eco-tourist. And volunteered on a nature reserve, and eventually started talking to a bunch of farmers way up the country. And just started planting crops, and never left. And Casey used to hang out up at that same nature reserve. So eventually our paths kept crossing until the thing kind of happened.

I guess we’re dong sort of an urban farming thing here. But I would call it more of a suburban farming. We’re very lucky to have come across a nice little piece of land basically in the San Isidro suburbs.

We produce a variety of things. Most of them are animal bases, because animal based products have a much higher return than vegetables. We do a bunch of chickens, sausages, ham, bacon. You have to sell a lot of tomatoes to equal one half kilo of bacon. We do some vegetables also just for fun, and also just to have them around. Sometimes we sell vegetables, but the animal products yield quite a bit more. Plus, I’m personally quite a bit of a carnivore, so it’s better for me to be growing some meat products.

Pura Vida! Let’s see, it’s prolific. This little tract of land is prolific. The life is definitely thriving and producing on this little piece of land. There’s tons of life on this land. Everything from the crops to the little babies to the dogs, to the wildlife, to the livestock to the critters to the agricultural pests to the weeds. There’s tons. The trees.

(Casey) I would say that, yes it is possible to interpret Pura Vida as a “pure life,” but I think that really it’s like a paradigm almost. It’s a world view. It’s something that Costa Rican culture has fully embraced. 

Here in Costa Rica if you start talking with people, especially in rural areas, you’re probably going to meet quite a few people who live in houses that, because they had a little piece of land they were able to apply to the government and get what they call a “bono” or a bonus. And they’re able to build themselves a house. The government pays for all the materials and give them enough money to pay the builders too, and then they have a house and they have a place to live. That’s the government actually caring for people and their quality of life.

(Sebastian) And it’s interesting to not that this isn’t exactly like a welfare that you get when you’ve hit hard times. It’s almost the government’s responsibility to provide you with a house. If you come across a piece of land, and you just do all your paperwork and you fit a few basic requirements, they’re going to give you a house, and it’s a nice house. 

(Casey) I mean, but that’s not the government’s responsibility, but the government here has taken it – or the people here that govern themselves have decided that a dignified quality of life is actually a human right. It’s something that we want everybody to have. 

This farm specifically, we have embraced this philosophy of honoring life and quality of life. And community is also a big part of this. This farm also embraces community based environmental management, because it’s managing this farm as if it’s a community. We human beings are part of this community, but so are the pigs and the other animals. And all of us together are like the community of Finca SDR. 

(Sebastian) A community in the ecological context, if I’m not mistaken, is the web of all the living critters that live within the ecosystem. And a farm is just an engineered ecosystem. And there’s lots of different ways to engineer an ecosystem of sorts. This permaculture, agro-ecological paradigm for engineering a farm mimics a lot of nature’s characteristics to build an ecosystem that supports the farmer or the gardener as well as all the critters that live in the farm. Similar to a forest, only created by humans. 

Pura Vida represents this paradigm that indigenous cultures around the world have acknowledged and known about for a very long time. And now we products of a western culture can consciously choose to move in that direction. And that’s what this farm is all about. That’s what we’re doing here.

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And in the mean time, let’s go reFire.