The central highlands of Costa Rica where ADE operates provide the perfect climate for the growth and production of multiple wild varieties of blackberry. Realizing the potential of this native fruit as a sustainable agricultural endeavor, ADE decided to pursue cultivation and harvesting of these plants. Working with the Fabio Baudrit Moreno Experimental Agriculture Station in Fraijanes, ADE was given a hybrid blackberry variety which will produce a generous harvest and manageable crop. Now, with nearly 500 individual plants in the beginning stages of cultivation under ADE’s care, and approximately 3000 more under the care of three other community members, ADE is facilitating a local blackberry cultivation cooperative. The blackberries, when ready for harvesting, will provide ADE with funds to develop its school and other programs.
One of the pillars of the program is ADE's zero down development model – using local assets without funds in order to start a successful project. This characteristic has opened the doors for single mothers and small farmers to get involved in the project. These other blackberry cooperative members will also benefit from the financial profits gained from their crops. Future prospects for the cooperative include donating blackberry plants to others in the community, working in processed blackberry production and eventually opening up to production of other fruits and vegetables, as well.
Meeting the demands of lowering personal costs and seeking to utilize the assets at hand in order to do so, ADE is currently in the process of establishing a garden to provide its staff and others in the community with fresh produce. This spacious garden, located in the hills of San Rafael de Vara Blanca, proves a perfect spot to work and grow– plants, that is. The fertile volcanic soil and dependable rainfall which are characteristic of the cloud rainforest area in which ADE is located serve as near perfect conditions for cultivation. Currently, the ADE garden is home to a small crop of cape gooseberries and will later include many varieties of vegetables. Also, ADE is in the beginning stages of cultivating squash and passion fruit. To support this agricultural initiative, ADE has completed the construction of a greenhouse where plants can be grown and tended to.
Additionally, ADE strives to care for its garden with little impact on the environment, staying away from the usage of harmful chemicals and soil erosion. Soon, ADE will be utilizing natural pesticide flowers as a crop treatment and also focuses on researching new and old ideas for working with the earth well.
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