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Tree Planting in Costa Rica - CIRENAS and Tree Tribe Collaboration

May 19, 2017

This is a guest post by Sam Kenworthy, the Permaculture Manager at CIRENAS

CIRENAS (Centro de Investigaciones de Recursos Naturales y Sociales) and Tree Tribe started a unique collaboration roughly six months ago when I got in touch with Joe Lannen, founder of Tree Tribe, simply because of their business model that included planting trees based on sales.

CIRENAS, a not for profit educational organization based in Costa Rica, is primarily focused on establishing productive, replicable ecosystems that promote food and water security; Tree Tribe uses the sale of eco-friendly products to plant trees on Earth. The fit was clear, and Joe and I managed to work out a deal in which CIRENAS would be one of the participants in Tree Tribe's tree planting program. For every sale of a Tree Tribe water bottle, CIRENAS receives funds to plant trees, and Tree Tribe now has an outlet to follow through with their mission to plant trees. Everyone wins!

CIRENAS is located on the southwest side of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica, and is developing agro-forestry, permaculture, and water catchment systems that promote regeneration of soils, broad landscape water catchment, calorific production, and ecosystem stability, among many other benefits.

CIRENAS campusCIRENAS coastal forest campus

As an educational organization, the goal of the CIRENAS project is to be able to demonstrate methods for food production and water security that can be used as a model that is transferable to local and regional communities. More and better food production (especially food production based on a perennial model) promotes more and better calories on a local level. Better production creates more economic opportunities and creates stronger communities.

A critical question I've always asked when developing projects is, "How can we do better?" By always referring back to a reference point of improvement, we can continually try to move ahead, over the short and long term.

We plant trees, lots of them, mainly with a focus on environmental, social, and economic improvement. Agro-forestry systems like those employed at CIRENAS offer innumerable small to medium sized business opportunities, ranging from nursery and maintenance work to fresh or value added edible products.

Economy, at its base, has always been tied to natural resources, and the permaculture program at CIRENAS seeks to connect people to the local environment and resources around them. Appropriate use of resources that are regenerative by design is one of the primary concerns of our generation. How can we best use resources? How can we increase the abundance of resources? How can we do better than what we are doing now?

CIRENAS seeks to address, at least on a small scale, solutions to questions of how to best use landscapes. How can people have an improved experience or interaction with their local landscape? What brings humans to a more comprehensive understanding of the natural world? CIRENAS feels that tying food and economy to social interaction is a key part of the solution.

As of the beginning of 2017, CIRENAS had 1000 fruit and nut trees of over seventy varieties under management, and an additional 3000 support species trees under cultivation, not to mention grasses, bamboos, and other plants that make up the broader spectrum of work at CIRENAS. These numbers go up every season.

Working in the fieldA day in the field

Research on all species is on going; growth rates, planting patterns and treatments are all recorded each season. Interns, volunteers, and full time employees all work together to make sure the systems thrive, produce, and expand.

Tree Tribe is an active supporter of the work being done at the CIRENAS campus, and with each Tree Tribe donation, more trees go in the ground. The CIRENAS systems emulate natural systems in their complexity by grouping productive species with supporting species and creating as much biodiversity as possible.

Tree Tribe, like CIRENAS, tries to connect people with those natural systems as much as possible. Tree Tribe has offered an opportunity for CIRENAS to continue extending the productive agro-forestry systems that will not only help the local area but can be an example to be used in any environment.

As Joe and I continue to be in touch about progress on each of our projects, we always come back to the idea of collaboration and how we can get better. We're off to a good start, but we've only just begun.

To be a part of our work, look into what Tree Tribe has to offer with their eco friendly water bottles (10 trees planted with us on every sale), or check out the CIRENAS opportunities at www.cirenas.org. You can also connect with us on Instagram @cirenas.costa.rica.

As the saying goes, "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is today."

Guest Author: Sam Kenworthy

Sam is the Permaculture Manager at CIRENAS, a non-profit educational organization based on the Pacific coast of the Nicola Peninsula, Costa Rica.

CIRENAS exists to create transformative relationships between people and the enviroment through experiential education, research, and innovation.