La Gran Vista
Focus: Agriculture and Sustainability.
With stunning views of El Valle de General and Costa Rica’s tallest mountains, including Mount Chirripo, La Gran Vista Agricultural Ecological Farm is well named. It is situated in the county of Perez Zeledon, three hours south of San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Protected forests, sublime beaches and fabulous waterfalls can all be found nearby. Finca La Gran Vista was established on January 16, 2001, as a non-profit project with the aim of spreading awareness of environmentally sustainable agricultural methods to other farmers in the region. It is intended to provide an example for other farms of how the following practices can be employed successfully:
Soil regeneration and conservation;
Natural pesticides; and
Enhancement of the natural environment.
The manager of the project, Donald Villalobos, is an agricultural engineer who has worked with the Ministry of Agriculture for over 31 years and has seen first-hand how traditional farming practices have contributed to habitat degradation in Costa Rica. To bring about change in the way agriculture is practiced, it must be demonstrated to the farmers that the new practices are superior to those currently in use. In an effort to foster this kind of change, Donald has set about creating an ecologically friendly farm that uses the land sustainably; in doing so, he has virtually eliminated soil erosion on his property.
The finca receives volunteers regularly throughout the year from across the world, particularly from the USA, Canada, England and Australia. Their involvement is invaluable to the development of the farm and to the fulfillment of the main goals Donald has set. Over the years the finca has been fortunate enough to receive volunteers from English and American companies, foreign students at Spanish language schools in Costa Rica and ecology students. Notable recent achievements include constructing an electric fence, digging a frog pond, excavating a special site to produce natural biogas, replanting grass, constructing a spacious living area for volunteers at the front of the main building, constructing terraces, planting trees and repainting the school and church in the community, El Peje.
The farm is run by a family of five: Xinia, Donald, Max, Larry, and Terry. Finca La Gran Vista is twelve acres in extent, and accommodates horses, chickens, ducks, medicinal plants, fruit trees, grass for forage, several crop species, spring-water wells, an area of rainforest, red worm composting for soil regeneration, and a fish pond.
Costs & Benefits
Here at La Gran Vista many students and teachers volunteer each year to help the farm with ecologically sustainable projects. Many students have also come to educate themselves further on bio diversification and complete research projects for agricultural classes that they are taking. We can cater to all levels of agricultural education at La Gran Vista.
The work will include construction, feeding the animals, planting seeds, soil conservation, and maintenance of medical plants, using and producing organic fertilizer, maintaining the spring-water wells, and harvesting crops. Each morning you will find a whiteboard with the day’s tasks, which will be assigned by Donald.
The fee is $23 a day including 3 meals a day and the accommodation. The volunteers will stay with the host family in a rustic cabin. There are four rooms set aside for the students, with two bunk beds in each, also there are a open place to set Camping Tends with room for six peoples or more.
Volunteers aged 18 – 30 who bring a positive, hard-working attitude. Volunteers must have their own comprehensive medical insurance.
La Gran Vista Agroecological Farm
El Peje de Repunta de Pérez Zeledón, 300 m de la Escuela.
Tel: (506) 89248983 or (506) 27704018
Location:El Peje de Repunta de Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica
Average cost per day: $23
Focus: Agriculture and Sustainability
Skills needed: Volunteers aged 18 - 30 years old with a hard-working attitude