Recently we joined Chef Gonzalo in the Costa Palmas community garden as he was gathering fresh ingredients. This one-acre parcel of land features a dual purpose: providing organic fruits, vegetables and herbs to the Costa Palmas Resort and providing educational and hands-on opportunities to the children of our community.
Last year, Costa Palmas introduced the program, “Aprende, Cultiva, Come y Vamos,” inspired by the program of the same name based out of the University of Texas. Translated as, “Learn, Grow, Eat and Go”, the pilot program included approximately 50 nine and ten-year-olds from the only public primary school in the La Ribera community.
Today, the program has expanded to include 150 children in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades. The 20-week program occurs twice a week; with one session in the classroom and another in the community garden. The children learn the basics of cultivation and farming; how to work the field and pick their own organic vegetables. This hands-on experience combines the subjects of nutrition and math with science and physical education. In addition, to promote family participation, parents are welcome to join the children as they spend time on the land.
The community garden has been thoughtfully and responsibly designed to include a drip irrigation system and various other green solutions. The crops currently include various lettuces, carrots, beets, tomatoes, collard greens, swiss chard, chiles, herbs, edible flowers, kale and more. Coming soon: papaya, mango and other tropical fruits.