Herbs in the Rain Forest: Healing and Independence

A women's cooperative in Costa Rica grows medicinal plants and herbs to further both the health of their community and their own independence.

If one country in the world epitomizes the concept of biodiversity, it is Costa Rica. ­Despite its small size (only 19,730 square miles), this Central American country has nearly half the number of plant species found in the United States and Canada. Lying completely within the Tropics, Costa Rica is a bridge where the flora and fauna of North and South America meet. Its ­narrowest point measures seventy miles across. The El Tigre farming community and the MUSA collective are in a forested region in the northeast, just south of the Nicaraguan border.