El Tablazo Agroecological Farm

El Tablazo Agroecological Farm: a sustainable, integrated, diverse and educational small scale project

Desamparados, Costa RicaDesamparados, Costa Rica
Year Founded:
2013
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

We have made our farm a reality through studies, dreams, and hard work. Our main motivation is the conservation of one of the few green lungs of our city through ecological agriculture practices, rural/agro tourism and environmental education. 

 

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

"What if we were all responsable consumers?"
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Costa Rica is in the top 5 countries that use the most agrochemical active ingredients per hectare in the world. Since 2007 more than 6000 people in rural communities have no access to drinking water due to this problem. Monoculture demand, increases every year due to the global consumption habits. There is a lack of productive, healthy and educational spaces aimed at inspiring and promoting new paradigms.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Sharing experiences and knowledge, ETAF has received just over 300 primary and secondary students from the central valley area. Through educational tours we instill curiosity that will help our visitors to be responsible consumers, appreciate agriculture and change certain habits to mitigate their environmental footprint; so far we have trained 32 people on technical and practical issues in agro-ecology; We have also created a network of more than 40 direct customers, responsible consumers of the agricultural production of the project. The farm is a pioneering project in Desamparados region; It offers a sustainable, innovative, productive, educational and tourist-friendly space in the rural central valley area near to San José.

Awards

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Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Changing individual and colective consumption habits makes a huge difference locally and globally. During a recent educational tour at the farm, one of our seven-year-old visitors simply proclaimed; "this is the best thing I've ever done in my life”. This filled us with a deep appreciation for what we do here and the future potential of ETAF. Inspiring young couples through our international volunteer program to undertake their own projects in their respective countries encourages us to give our best. Receiving calls from strangers congratulating us for preserving and working the land after seeing us in a television report. Receiving overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers who consume our products fills us with pride and motivation.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In almost three years since ETAF started, it has managed to showcase its activities in 5 schools and 6 environmental and agro-ecological fairs. We have received more than 300 students from primary, secondary and university levels on the farm, we´ve also hosted 40 volunteers from around the world, sharing experiences and knowledge; the vast majority of them with the idea of establishing their own projects in their countries of origin. Whenever we describe and explain all the farm systems, we do it with great passion, outlining very well the causes, consequences and possible solutions to the environmental problems we address. The idea is to encourage and create real changemakers thorugh everyone we involve; family, friends, students, teachers, customers, volunteers and visitors in general. We hope to be an exemplary project that impacts as many people as possible.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The impacts over the next 5 years are wide-ranging and ambitious. To run the leading educational tours in the central valley area, thoroughly training all our visitors on important agro-ecology issues and integrated ecological systems. To use our local contacts and resources to establish an intensive organic agricultural school for Costa Rican and foreign visitors. This will stimulate the local economy in order to create jobs and prompt community development. Finally, to be a model integrated agro-ecological farm, optimizing production whilst causing the lowest possible environmental impact.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Currently our 2 main revenue streams which we will continue to expand are: the educational group visits and selling the produce from the farm via an online customer database and a weekly local organic market. Our next key revenue stream is setting up an intensive, organic, agricultural school with overnight facilities for up to 20 people located within ETAF, combined with visits to selective alternative rural tourism projects.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are around 20 similar projects throughout Costa Rica, an extremely low number for such a large market-place. ETAF is the only such project led by young professionals with the ability to use modern scientific knowledge alongside environmentally-friendly techniques. We are the pioneers of this type of project in Desamparados and have no direct competition in the surrounding region. We are located in a mountain range just 15 km from downtown San Jose giving ETAF an unparalleled responsabilty to protect and conserve this vulnerable green zone from urban expansion.
Team

Founding Story

After graduating from college and being awarded our technical degree at the Specialized Center for Organic Agriculture in Costa Rica, we decided to volunteer in organic farms across Asia for 9 months. Despite seeing many fascinating places during our experience, we did not come across any project that really lived up to our expectations. At this time we concieved the idea of creating our own agroecological farm using an uncultivated piece of land belonging to the family. After visiting the land we saw that the terrain, the location, and the biochemical properties of the soil were simply ideal. Through hard work, perseverance and dedication ETAF was born!

Team

Gabriel Bravo Pacheco (Co-Founder / Full time) - Bachelor's degree in Natural Resources Management (UNED) - Technical Organic Agriculture degree (INA) - Farm planning and management - Advertising and digital media management - Biological and chemical response practicalities - Teaching and educating visitors - Volunteer Program management - Managing and building farm infrastructure - Field work Jemima Picado (Co founder / Full time) - Bachelor of science degree - Natural Resource Management (UNED) - Bachelor of science degree - Anthropology (UCR) - Technical Organic Agriculture degree (INA) - Biological and chemical response practicalities - Teaching and educating visitors - Head of educational tour programs - Financial management, accounting, and bookkeeping - Field work. International volunteers (Part Time) - Field work - Assistance in educational tours and training. Edgar Fallas (field worker / Part time) - Field work - General farm maintenance. The aim is to grow our team in size and scope of activities. Soon it will be necessary to hire a full-time farm employee and gradually we will incorporate other neighbors into the business framework of the farm. ETAF will stimulate local employment in the form of catering services and farm guides. International volunteers are an essential resource for the farm, it is a highly efficient program that allows us to share our knowledge and to expedite current and future projects. The volunteer program continues to grow to meet demand, we will soon be accepting 4-6 volunteers concurrently.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

La República´s newspaper article

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-Founder

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Zero Hunger, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

We are a highly motivated and committed young couple, very knowledgable with the current environmental situation in our country. We have worked on organic agriculture, educational and conservation projects and we are convinced that our project is unique and innovative in the central valley area.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We work closely with the leading organic agriculture school in Central America; The Specialized National Organic Agriculture Center at the National Institute for Learning of Costa Rica. The school's director and teachers support us with any technical queries and we continue to draw on their years of experience and expertise. We also work with environmental education companies (e.g FUNDECOR, SURA, CEDRELA), exchanging views, techniques, and experiences. This allows us to innovate and improve constantly to ensure our learning resources remain current and consistent. We are currently part of a special commission established by the Costan Rican Environmental Ministry to create a biological corridor throughout the southern mountain range of the central valley with a view to linking the relevant conservation areas, assisting the migrational movement of wildlife and protecting natural water sources. This will help to regulate environmental plans for local governments for the future. Finally, we are involved with several universities (Eg: UCR, UNED and TEC) in investigative and educational programs within the departments for sustainable agriculture & tourism. Our collaboratory efforts generate new information and ideas which we can then implement at ETAF. The expectation is that over the years we can strengthen relationships with many public and private institutions, always promoting the same goal: a healthy and balanced environment.