Now we’ve hit hard-core foodie territory.
We’re spending the next two days at Finca Luna Nueva, an organic and biodynamic farm and herbal estate in Costa Rica’s southern Arenal district, on the edge of the Children’s Eternal Rainforest conservation area. This educational center and world model for biodynamic agriculture is farm-to-table at its finest, and the folks here are more than ready to spread the word about good growing and good eating.
This afternoon I had a chance to sit down briefly with farm manager Steven Farrell, who has been nurturing this abundant earth since 1994. Steven had been one of the very rare farmers growing ginger organically for 15 years when New Chapter founders Paul Schulick and Tom Newmark asked him to help grow organic ginger for their whole-food supplements on Finca Luna Nueva. Steven found an abandoned 207-acre farm and began growing. In 2002, the farm’s staff began buildings out of fallen logs on the property as a place for New Chapter staff members and guests. As more and more herbalists, botanists and research groups learned about the farm, it grew—somewhat organically—into an eco-resort. In 2008 Finca Luna Nueva opened to the public as a place where people could unwind, unplug and get connected to their food.
“We wanted to use tourism not only as a way to promote sustainability, but also want to teach people to have a better connection to their food,” Steven told me. During farm tours, guests here learn about the biodynamic preparations and compost that help make the produce they eat for dinner so vibrant and tasty. They see firsthand how feeding free-range pigs a diet of whey, yucca, bananas and kitchen leftovers makes for happy animals and much more flavorful, healthful pork. Many taste fresh eggs and dairy for the first time in their lives. When there’s enough milk from the water buffalo, they get to see how mozzarella cheese is made.
It’s 8 p.m., and I just finished a delightful meal that included ayote (squash) soup made with fresh ginger and turmeric, just-picked carrots and cauliflower, and a dish made from green bananas, tomatoes and chiles that even Pieter (the banana hater) raved about. I’m about to turn in, as I’m meeting Steven for an early breakfast and a tour of Finca Luna Nueva’s Sacred Seeds Sanctuary, a sanctuary for medicinal plants of the New World tropics that are vulnerable because of habitat loss, overharvesting or climate change. “We can’t express enough how important it is to save the seeds right now,” Steven said. “And not just medicinal plants. Healthy vegetables can heal us just as much as medicinal herbs can.”
I’m going to enjoy this medicine immensely.
A shy little sloth has parked himself outside the door of our cabin at Finca Luna Nueva. Photo by Barbara Bourne