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1. Antecedents of the Organization

The Association for the Development of Environmental and Human Consciousness (ASODECAH), was constituted on November 14, 1998 as a non-profit association with the purpose to complement the country’s environmental education and to strengthen the relationship between society and the environment.

The association is integrated with neighbors of the community as well as professionals working together on an integrated farm seeking the sustainability of its social and environmental projects.

2. Justification

Costa Rica is a country that contains extensive protected areas and is world renowned for the protection of its natural resources. However, outside of these protected areas, the majority of Costa Rican communities suffer harsh environmental impacts from the contamination of rivers and ravines, gas emissions, inadequate management of solid and liquid wastes, deforestation, monoculture, extensive cattle ranching and an excessive use of agrochemicals in the fields of agriculture and cattle farming.

The Costa Rican educational system needs more programs that involve students with their environmental situation, in areas around the educational institution as well as surrounding communities. Lack of education is responsible for the negligence and unconsciousness that aggravates our national environmental problem. Lack of awareness deters the application of preventative means as well as environmental and sanitary improvement in each community.

The community in which the project is located is one of the populations in the country affected by environmental problems. The project generates practical solutions for the environmental and social problems of the community.

3. Objectives

The project seeks SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT through each of its activities in the fields of agriculture, reforestation and education. ASODECAH has established a farm /school that demonstrates and teaches conservation practices, which in turn make its operation possible and generates the possibility of sustainable management.

  • Agroecological Farm:
    • To demonstrate a practical form of alternative management of land resources.
    • To regenerate degraded land caused by an excessive use of agrochemicals and extensive cattle ranching.
    • To revegetate lands surrounding the watershed of the La Flor river.
    • To provide work for the community.
    • To protect a 10 ha. area in order to regenerate the natural forest.
    • To extend the area of the forest.

  • Environmental School:
    • To involve children, adolescents and adults in the protection of natural resources.
    • To develop an accesible space in order to provide environmental education according to the necessities of the environmental problems within the country.
    • To offer local environmental extension through the participation of the community school as well as community groups.
    • To be an educational complement and demonstration to the Agroecological Farm.

5. Description of the project

  • Philosophy:
    ASODECAH seeks to establish an alternative community that lives symbiotically with humanity and nature, ensuring the continuity of natural resources for our future generations.

  • Concept:
    • Agroecological Farm: incorporates reforestation, agriculture, and animal husbandry rooted in conservation and balance of the surrounding environment.
    • Environmental School: integrates a program of educational activities with direct participation in the activities on the Agroecological Farm.

  • Activities:
    All of the activities in the project are correlated and targeted towards achieving sustainable development. The following diagram synthesizes the relationship between all of the activities in the project:

The Agroecological Farm of La Flor de Paraiso, the base of ASODECAH, accounts for the production of animals, which supply the project with products and subproducts that are consumed, both by residential administrative personnel, volunteers and the visiting student groups. Animal waste is utilized on the fields of cultivation in the organic fertilizers (compost, worm compost, bocashi)produced on the farm as well as for their commercialization.

Organic Agriculture supplies the project with fresh produce (herbs and vegtables) and also forms part of our environmental education programs. These programs are in direct contrast to the general agricultural practices of heavy use of agrochemicals in the area and the rest of the country.

The medicinal plants are used domestically for medicinal purposes, such as the relief of headaches or stomachaches. They are also an integral part of our agricultural planning, being used as natural insecticides and repellents.

The farm relies upon an area of natural regeneration for the protection of the watershed of the La Flor river as well as its flora and fauna. Additionally, it is a space for biological studies.

The farm demonstrates the conservation of forest and the importance of identifying species that can be utilized as both natural extracts to enhance the organic agriculture as well as medicinal remedies.

All of the sustainable activities of the Agroecological Farm La Flor de Paraiso are taught in the Environmental School through camps for children and intensive courses for adults. The farm has a capacity of 35 students who stay in lodges or eco-cabins. Visiting students attend talks related to the protection of the environment and participate in workshops regarding the activities of the Agroecological Farm.

All of the wastes created by the Agroecological Farm and Environmental School are reused, if possible, and the rest separated for recycling.

During their stay, visitors learn the efficient management of solid wastes. Some of the waste can also be recycled in the form of art projects.

The local community participates in all of the activities mentioned above. We ensure that groups containing both volunteers and locals are engaged in the development of our projects, all working together for the enrichment of the community of La Flor.

An alternative spanish institute is also administrated by ASODECAH and is helping finance the social and environmental programs of the association. Daily communal guided practices are a complement to the spanish classes in order to achieve a real cultural exchange. The Institute believes the knowledge of a language does not only mean the learning of its vocabulary, but also the experience of the country, its biodiversity, people and cultural traditions.

The promotion of agroecotourism allows the visitor to observe different Costa Rican traditions in various farms of the communities surrounding ASODECAH besides all the alternative techniques the Agroecological Farm and Environmental School have developed through their educational experience.

ASODECAH dedicates itself to administrate the following activities:

  1. Agroecological Farm
    • Domestic animals
    • Production of organic fertilizers
    • Organic Agriculture
    • Medicinal plants
    • Regeneration of forest
    • National and International Volunteers
  2. Environmental School
    • Lectures about environmental issues
    • Practical workshops through the activities of the agroecological farm
    • Community participation
      • Children from the community school
      • Organized community groups
    • National and International volunteers
  3. Alternative Spanish Institute
    • Four different levels according to the students own pace and interest
    • Individuals and large groups
    • Daily communal guided practices as cultural exchange
  4. Agroecoturism
    • Costarrican traditions
    • Introduction to alternative techniques for a natural and conscious farm living
    • Cultural exchange through communal field trips

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