What is food security to you? Local stores and restaurants reliably stocking your favorite foods? We had a somewhat different idea of food security when we moved to Costa Rica, and we are getting closer to realizing that every day.
While living in North Carolina, it was a goal of ours to produce as much of our own food as we could from our 1.5 acre lot. Why? Let’s just say our trust in the U.S. food system was abysmally low. We did achieve a remarkable amount of productivity from our homestead, but winter set us back year after year. Some perennials would survive the cold, and others wouldn’t. And the typical hot, dry summers did their own share of damage. When we started looking at new locations to call home, a 12 month growing season with reasonable temperatures and plenty of rain was high on our list. The southern Pacific mountains of Costa Rica checked those boxes, along with many others.
The community that we now call home, Serenity Gardens Eco Village (SGEV), has a number of advantages for folks like us who desire to take control of their food supply. In addition to the year round warm climate and lots of water, one objective of SGEV is to plant the entire property with fruit trees. A remarkable amount of work has already been done towards this goal, with banana, plantain and citrus trees and many herbs now growing along roadsides throughout the community. This is a great start on a food security program, to say the least!
Now the personal phase for us begins. We’ve enlisted the services of Brendon McKeon’s crew to design a permaculture based food production system here on our lot. They completed the draft plan sometime back, and the implementation phase began this week. Brendon and Juan Carlos were climbing all over our lot, checking contours, taking measurements and siting vegetable beds, green house, paths, etc.
When completed and planted, we will have over 50 different types of fruit and vegetables growing here on our property. Avocado, mango, orange, pineapple, black pepper, vanilla, cacao, ginger and many, many more. Many will be perennials, and we’ll also have common annuals planted such as tomato, lettuce, squash, root crops and beans. In addition to food plants, we’ll have a variety of others such as aloe, lemongrass, ylang ylang, and citronella.
A chicken coop for 8-10 laying hens will be right off one of the trails, and the girls will have 2 separate yards to graze and hunt for bugs. When one yard gets picked over, we’ll switch them to the other for a while. Speaking of girls, Brendon also recently hooked us up with 2 hives of local honeybees, both non-stinging varieties (Congo and Milliponas), and they’re happily living on our deck in hollowed out logs. They don’t produce the volume of honey expected from traditional stinging bees, but the honey from these two species is reportedly incredible. Milliponas honey is even great for glaucoma treatment!
We are currently researching adding mushroom cultivation to our homestead here, much like we did in North Carolina. We currently ferment our own ginger ale, bake sourdough bread products from scratch, and of course I brew my own beer (soon to be Jungle Brew Cerveceria). We are making big strides towards our goals of “food security”, and we’ll continue those strides each and every week. After all, we’ve been on the ground here just over 5 months, and we can’t wait to see what the rest of year one brings!