Despite Costa Rica being a place of lush rain forest and bright green jungles there is a dramatic gap in healthy and sustainable food. Most of the food available throughout the country, and especially Esterillos where we are, is equivalent to what you would find in a remote gas station/mechanic shop somewhere in the middle of Nebraska, but worse. The food is highly processed, full of chemicals, stale, genetically modified, sprayed with pesticides, and rotting. We knew this was a problem when originally felt called to help establish a sustainable healthy food source in this community, it’s just much worse than we anticipated. Part of the problem is a mixture of poverty and lack of knowledge – if the farmers here lose a crop they could lose everything, and no one has shown them that these farming practices they have adopted from their western friends are bad. The consumers aren’t creating demand for anything different either, because… after all if its on the shelves in the store it must not be bad for you right.

In trying to learn from past moments of overzealousness, one of our main focus’ for this season was to approach our mission here with flexibility and openness to whatever Father’s plan was for us down here, even if it looked completely different than what we originally thought.  This is why our response to the question “how long are you going to be down there?” has been vague. We’ve recognized that He placed this vision for sustainable food in Esterillos on our hearts BUT we understand that one, He can change that plan at anytime, and two we are faulty people and could have misunderstood. It’s through that lense that we find we are truly dependent on Him daily to understand what our direction is knowing it could change at any moment. One of initial goals is to get buy in from the community first before anything else. That hurdle is raised due to lack of desire for agriculture, lack of education on health food sources, no previous knowledge of aquaponics, and language barriers. Honestly, I was never sure we would ever get over that first hurdle, but to our surprise, Father has not changed the plans and we have seen and been able to be part of getting small pockets of people bought into and excited about the possibility of aquaponics in Esterillos, HalleluYah.

We usually try to come down every six months to support in whatever way is needed, it was during our planning for our next trip that we felt like Father called us to move here instead of come on a short term mission. The main reasons being that if this were to be successful we needed to:

  • Understand that we have been blessed to be a blessing
  • Operate on His timeline
  • Fulfill a current need in the community
  • Get community buy
  • Find locals to own and champion it
  • Be here long enough to build, train, and establish systems to ensure its self sustainability.

So it’s with those priorities in mind that we have headed into this community, and Father has been so good in bridging those connections, stretching us more than we ever imagined, and truly showing us there is a deep need here for what we came to do.

We spent a lot of time researching aquaponics in Costa Rica before we came and found 4 groups that were supposedly doing aquaponics down here that we had hoped to connect with. Interestingly enough, we have connected with all 4 groups and not one of them actually completed the project nor is actually doing aquaponics – so it because of those circumstances that we are breaking new ground here in Costa Rica.

As usual each of these paragraphs below deserve their own blog post but I find it challenging to keep on top of everything while being down here. So in a quick summary below are some of our adventures in breaking new ground in agriculture and aquaponics in Costa Rica.

One of our first adventures started with us connecting with another couple Dan and Chloe who are here full time doing ministry work in Esterillos, and they have quickly become some of our new friends as they also have a passions for the Kingdom, agriculture, and Esterillos. It was only after a short time we connected in a deep way and next thing you knew we were talking about leaving for the southern part of Costa Rica together to go visit a remote self sustaining community we both had wanted to visit because it was doing permaculture and supposedly aquaponics as well. We decided to leave at 5 AM the two days later, and like most Costa Rica trips it would have seemed off it we could have simply hopped on the road and headed south. After going through 4 jumper cables (no joke, apparently the jungle isn’t only deadly, it eats jumper cables too) we finally jumped Dan’s truck, and piled in to head to the Osa Peninsula.

In the backseat alone was 2 kids in car seats, Megan, Antonio, and myself,and yes we should have taken a picture because it was awesome. We went to learn more about permaculture and aquaponics. Osa Mountain Village is a self sustaining remote community deep in the jungle of the Osa Peninsula, the goal is to turn every piece of landscape into food. They have a few permaculture and agriculture guru’s on staff and so for two days we learned as much as we could, and while they had hoped to start aquaponics we discovered they never have. We also go to hike 20 minutes into the mountains (we were already off the map, so this was Bear Grylls crazy intense rain forest territory and hiked up to a beautiful waterfall, enjoyed Fathers creation and drank water right off the rocks.

Megan and I took a bus back north, got stranded because of a late bus, rented a car, picked up some swedish hitchhikers, and realized that wasn’t our typical Sunday morning to Monday night back home.

Click here to read part two of our continued adventures of Costa Rica and Aquaponics.