Case Studies

  • Group:Young Farmers Group - Costa Rica 2019
  • Age:18-27 years old
  • Group Size:10
  • Project:Agriculture & Community
  • Destination:Costa Rica

Intro

“I have recently returned from a two-week trip to Costa Rica with ten other people representing The National Federation of Young Farmers Clubs. We stayed in Barra Honda National Park and helped build an organic garden in a local school and learnt about conservation and agriculture in Costa Rica.”

Planning and Fundraising

“I was fortunate enough to be able to apply for grants to fund my trip and managed to fund about three quarters of the trip this way. The rest I paid for myself.”

Travelling, arriving and settling in
Travelling, arriving and settling in

“After meeting each other for the first time at Heathrow Airport we flew first to Mexico City before landing in San Jose after a second flight. For one person in our group these were her first ever flights! We were feeling tired but excited and were soon welcomed by our Projects Abroad host.

We were made to feel so welcome right from the start, which made settling in much easier. The accommodation was very basic, but this was all part of the fun and we enjoyed learning to live in a new and exciting environment, bugs, mosquito nets, humidity and all! One of our favourite daily routines was brushing our teeth looking out over the rainforest and hearing the howler monkeys.

We were very well fed, and all noted how healthy we felt after eating fresh food every day. Pancakes for breakfast were still a firm favourite though!”

Project Work – Volunteering

Digging the trenches
Digging the trenches

“Our project involved building an organic garden in a local school. The idea was for the children to be able to grow vegetables to use in school meals and learn about sustainable agriculture.

The work was very physical and working in the heat and humidity took some getting used to. Our project leaders were great at encouraging us to work as a team and give ourselves breaks until we got more acclimatised. We began by digging trenches and levelling an area for the vegetables to grow. We then sieved the soil and mixed it with an organic mix called Bokashi to create a nutritional place for the vegetables to grow. The heavy rainfall sometimes made this challenging and one morning we arrived to find our trench filled with rain water! We then built structures to cover the beds to protect them from heavy rainfall in the wet season and strong sun and heat in the dry season.

It was interesting to learn about the different demands the environment has on agriculture in Costa Rica. A pipe system was then put in place to be able to irrigate the beds via a drip system. During lunch breaks the children in the school would come to watch us work and ask questions – it was great to see them interested in what we were doing.

Completed project
Completed project

On the final day when we completed the project, we all felt a huge sense of achievement. It was amazing to see such a change from start to finish and felt great to have achieved it as a team. Having been complete strangers at the beginning of the trip we now felt like close friends and had all pulled each other through the more challenging moments of the project.”

Weekend Trip Activities

Samara beach day
Samara beach day

“At the weekend we visited an activity park where we rode horses, went zip lining, tubing and visited the hot springs. We all really enjoyed it and it was a great way to see a bit more of Costa Rica. On the Sunday we visited Samara – a beautiful beach where we spent the day relaxing and swimming in the sea.

Adventure day tubing
Adventure day tubing

In our second week we had several excursions including a trip to El Toledo – an ecological rainforest and a visit to the caves at Barra Honda. We then moved to stay at a rainforest called La Tirimbina. Here we learnt more about conservation and got to see a huge variety of wildlife including sloths! Whilst here we also had a tour of an organic pineapple farm and learnt more about agricultural practices on a larger scale. We also enjoyed a chocolate tour where we got to see (and taste!) each stage of chocolate making from the cacao fruit to a chocolate bar. Throughout our stay we had various social evenings where we tried some local dance moves, played games and got to enjoy the Cost Rican way of life – Pura Vida!”

On Reflection

  • Walking the trials at Barra Honda
    Walking the trials at Barra Honda

    “Every time we said goodbye to someone, we had met on the trip it was like saying goodbye to an old friend, we had been made to feel so welcome it was with genuine sadness that we left our new home in Costa Rica and promised to return one day. It was a truly unique experience that pushed us all out of our comfort zones and encouraged us to try new things. Nothing immerses you more in a country than living and working with local people, getting to truly know their way of life and really experiencing the area. I would thoroughly recommend a Projects Abroad trip to anyone – you won’t regret it.“”

    Verenique

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