Finca La Célula: Family food security, biodiversity, and sustianability
Last year, IAFN launched a new instalment of its demonstration sites program. In our 2014 call for proposals, we invited applications from around the world for new sites where people would restore degraded ecosystems using analog forestry. We received many excellent proposals and have been privileged to support some truly remarkable work around the world. The following is a short update from one of our partners in Costa Rica:
The current model of production for small producers, which is oriented towards the demands of intermediaries by means of monocultures of tobacco, coffee, or pineapple, makes it impossible to reconcile the three goals of agricultural production, biodiversity, and sustainability. Indeed, government policies have brought about the disappearance of the campesino sector in favour of those same intermediaries and transnational food producers.
In this context, any small producer who wants to resist this disappearance must innovate in order to utilize their land to its full capacity. This means introducing a large variety of species and allowing them to grow in order to produce food for humans, all the while guaranteeing the sustainability of the agroecosystem. This is where analog forestry comes in: it’s a highly practical and functional technique for bringing together the available resources. The end goal is to ensure the coexistence of a family’s food security, biodiversity, and environmental restoration. This methodology allows for uninterrupted production without having to invest in fertilizers and pesticides that are expensive and bad for the planet.
In simple terms, we plant everything we eat, and leave and take care of species that are useful for local fauna. We respect and take good care of pollinators and use natural pest control. We also don’t use pesticides or fertilizers that break down the ecosystem’s functioning. If we can be self-sufficient, we can do it in harmony with the natural environment.
Finca La Célula, located in Cerbatana de Puriscal, Costa Rica, has been implementing a model of analog forestry whose main objective is food security for the family living there. That explains the emphasis on agroforestry species such as tubus (Montanoa guatemalensis) or moringa (Moringa oleifera). These are mixed with agricultural crops like banana, plantain, sugarcane, cassava, Itabo and beans, as well as citrus and fruit trees. In addition, we protect species that are part of the area’s natural regeneration, such as guarumo (Cecropia spp.), targuás (Croton spp.), and pico de pájaro (Hamelia patens). As we don’t use pesticides, the pollinating wasps have no problem getting established on our farm. Also, we’ve been planting species that produce abundant flowers and are non-toxic for bees.