Kimmy and I jumped on the early morning bus to Caballo Blanco, a small crossroads on the road from Mastatal to Puriscal. From there we walked 10.5 miles to Lanas, a tiny village too insignificant to be scrawled on any Costa Rican map. We were in a mad rush in the morning, thinking we had gotten up late and had skipped breakfast and neglected to bring any water bottles. We were walking by 7:30 and around 10:30 I was getting fatigued. We stopped at a house and asked for some water and continued on, cutting down sugar cane to chew on when we came across thick stalks of it at the roadside. It’s a delicious remedy on a hot day and contains enough sweet water that I felt good enough to keep going. It was all downhill, descending from 1500 feet to 100 feet above sea level. After Lanas, the road is uphill for a mile, then straightens out and is level for a quarter mile and then the gate to VerdEnergia communal farm welcomes you into a compound of multiple structures surrounding a pool and large yoga studio complete with mirrors. The President/Founder of this eco-farm is a huge ex body builder marketing guy from Portland Oregon with incredible knowledge and charisma. He’s been working this farm for 5 years and recently organized landowners and farmers in the area into a collective that appealed to the Costa Rican government for special status as protectors of the Scarlet Macaw Reserve adjacent to all the properties. As a research and educational eco-reserve / care-taking organization, they were then able to petition the ICE, a telecommunications entity run by the people, which basically has a monopoly on all telecommunications infrastructure. As a result, all the farms and schools in the vicinity are connected to a reliable high speed wireless internet network. A true example of what can be done through solidarity and collective effort.
Josh’s farm is run as a collective of shareholders who buy in for 4k US and are then able to visit and utilize the facilities whenever they choose. Presently there are 200 shares available, but there are only 35 active shareholders right now. I’m mulling over the possibility of buying in. There are a couple of reasons for this. First is that while creating something from scratch is appealing on various levels, it requires huge startup capital and takes a good ten years to establish productive agriculture and then there is the construction of infrastructure. Second is that I feel that there really isn’t that much time left. So why not patch into an established and functioning project that has worked out quite a few bugs already? The model here at VerdEnergia is a good one and is not at all oppressive or cult-ish in it’s structure. It’s all inclusive, open sourced for the most part, has a great relationship with the community at large and is laid out expertly. The architecture is aesthetically considered and it’s clean, managed well and provides solutions for the physical and spiritual well-being of residents. No one is expected to operate in a particular way except in contributing to farm work a few hours a day and helping with kitchen duties. Beyond that, creativity is encouraged and appreciated . So what else is important?
I’m stiff and sore from the hike in and I’m dreading the idea of walking out uphill 10.5 miles with my 20 lb backpack. Plus I have a case of crotch rot that threatens my future virility. Hope I can kick it.
Here are some pics of the place:
Thanks for the pics and blog Ben, it just looks so amazing!! It makes me want to come.
Informative and interesting to read! You are inspiring!