The coastal town of Nosara, like many others in the province, has been betting all its chips on tourism for several years. The outbreak of COVID-19 cut off the flow of tourists to Guanacaste, causing unemployment, frustration and hunger for Nosarans.
A year ago, we told you about how the closure of the country’s borders to foreigners reduced international flights at Daniel Oduber airport by 95% and caused losses of between $100,000 to $200,000 per month for large hotels in the area. Businesses large and small called it a “zero season.”
Out of this situation grew Huertas de Nosara, a community project seeking to restore food autonomy to those who need to put food on the table and can’t find a way to do it.
The idea is to use three plots of land, which they named the Grandmother’s Garden, the Mother’s Garden and the Daughter’s Garden, to work collectively so that participants can take the food they harvest home, a plan that has already been replicated in several Guanacaste towns.
Building Bridges While Harvesting
Those who go to the Grandmother’s Garden (the only one with vegetable gardens at the moment) every Thursday morning work for their next harvest and, at the same time, unite the community, according to one of the organizers, Michelle Vergara, an American who came to Nosara 10 years ago.
“We invite everyone to come, learn, play in the garden and be able to pick some food. We hope that people come back to train and participate more,” she explained.
Huertas de Nosara is part of Revive Nosara, an association that, in addition to working for food security, plans to start workshops on composting, clean energy based on organic waste, and education programs.
Their next challenge is to certify people interested in permaculture through a series of modules. Permaculture is a system that tries to create productive agricultural practices without exploiting resources or polluting, so that it is sustainable in the long term.
This program begins on May 15 and will be every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each module costs $60, and those who want to enroll can choose the full program of 12 modules or can take modules individually. Maximum capacity is 15 people.
According to Michelle, one of the pillars for Huertas de Nosara to be a success is to integrate people from the community, both those who can and afford it and those who can’t.
“We want everyone to participate but we also understand that many people in Nosara don’t have $600 to do this. And we want to offer the option that they can help us in any area that they feel comfortable with,” explained Vergara.
Ways to collaborate include working in the garden, composting or managing Huertas de Nosara’s Instagram and Facebook accounts. Organizers will try to involve more people in the project by creating an annual membership program that allows them to award scholarships to those who don’t have the money.
Huertas de Nosara wants to move people with more experience to plant vegetables and fruit trees in the Mother’s Garden and the Daughter’s Garden. To accomplish this, they need 15 volunteers to cover the tasks of watering and tending to the Grandmother’s Garden.
Michelle knows that gathering a group of people during a time of economic crisis is a slow and steady process. “You live one way and I’m going to tell you, ‘well, your way is fine, but here I have a completely new life for you and you’re going to have to work for it.’ It’s very difficult to shift a town to another way of existing,” she added.
Despite the challenges ahead, the American is optimistic and believes that they have already accomplished quite a few things in just seven months.
“The moment we start talking to people, they get motivated, and I’m personally very inspired to see how our energy is transmitted so quickly.”