Day one is (almost) done! After a neat bus ride through the cloud forest and mountains of Costa Rica, we arrived at EARTH University. David, a third year student at the school, was our acting guide for most of the day. EARTH is “the Harvard of Latin America”, with only an 8-10% acceptance rate, and a very intensive application process. The school currently receives funding from a MasterCard program, and has been a benefactor of USAID and other initiatives. Situated on over 8,400 acres of BEAUTIFUL farmland, EARTH university took my breath away. We started off with a quick tour of their waste management facilities and practices, which led us to an area far from the main campus. Here, mercury and other biohazardous materials are discarded, as well as organics and general waste.
Next up was (thankfully) lunch. I’m really loving the food here we’ve had so far; the fresh fruit and rice and beans are hearty and healthy! A majority of the produce served in the schools cafeteria is grown on-site, and after lunch we took a trip to the gardens to check out the processes by which our food was made.
EARTH boasts an organic farm that grows a myriad of produce: lettuce, bokchoy, cilantro, yucca, green onion and cacao. While visiting the farm, we got to crack open and taste the fruit of the cacao bean, pictured below. It’s actually quite sweet, and reminds me of rambutan. You have to suck around the seed in order to get the flesh off of it, and then spit it out.
Perhaps the coolest part of the day was exploring the hydroponics and garden area of the school. A substrate of coconut fibers, charcoal and rice husks provides enough grab for roots, as well as porosity for micro and macronutrients to flow to each plant. The ways in which the plants were arranged were ingenious; the designs, such as raised beds, aided the gardener in being as efficient as possible.
With all of this being seen on day one, I can’t wait to see more of what Costa Rica has to offer!