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A world that thrives through regenerative food-forests, starting with the Caribbean side of Costa Rica

Climate-resilient edible species will create perennial-forests ignited with AgTech, harvesting and replicating while capturing CO2 worldwide

Photo of Diana Chaves
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Trópico Agroforestal S.R.L.

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

In the past 5 years we have created an agro-biodiverse supply chain literally from the ground, and we have embraced the power of collaboration. Starting with our fellow small farmers and fruit harvesters, we have co-created and start engine our common vision of a regenerative supply web. Understanding the high importance as well, to include academia, research, technology and industry, we also have included the University of Costa Rica (top public university in the country), EARTH University (an example of high social impact for-profit university, primarily graduating agricultural engineers, giving scholarships to 80% of its students and hosting more than 40 countries, mostly from tropical regions worldwide), the National Institute of Learning (INA-Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje, a governmental institution with the sole purpose of giving free education to any citizen to promote progress and development), plus private processing plants, laboratories and logistic companies.

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Montes de Oca municipality, San José province (Central Valley Region)

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Costa Rica (in Central America, our borders: north - Nicaragua, southeast - Panama, east - Caribbean Sea, west - Pacific Ocean)

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Limón Province, with an area of 9188 km^2 (Land of afro-caribbean culture, high moisture in the air, coconut water, sloths and calypso)

What country is your selected Place located in?

Costa Rica

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

I have a deep love for the Caribbean, but my family originates from Pacific coast. Felix, my great-grandfather, was a native Chorotega from Nicoya.   We come from warm land, where every family has a ‘milpa’ filled with pumpkins, beans, purple corn, coffee, bananas, and sugar apples, neighboring the forest. Sadly same as many other rural families, since the agricultural expansion of cattle and sugar cane followed by touristic developments of foreigners, the soil dried and the rain stopped coming, so my grandparents migrated into the city. 

Since then our family treats water as the highest treasure, the forest and its fruits are our dreams, and the nostalgia for not being able to know Nicoya as our ancestors keeps passing from one generation to the other. Not everything was lost though, my cousins and I have had further education than any other relative back in Nicoya. I studied architecture, while actively working with marginal communities within the city. The more I connected with them, the bigger was my awareness of rural migration for better economic opportunities, viewing this problem’s origin in the agricultural system. 

Then I met Gustavo and Paul while working against pineapple expansion, which deforested the most ecologically valuable regions, including the Caribbean. They invited me to visit Limon, where they studied and learned regenerative agroforestry, and that’s when I met its lush rainforest. My eyes couldn’t believe it, this was like the land of abundance great-grandfather Felix was telling in his stories. The clean air, crystal clear rivers and hanging fruits everywhere welcomed me, and it was again at risk. We needed to act and prevent history from repeating itself! 

Together we created a social start-up, with no salary for 5 years we keep working passionately, changing the current trends of our Caribbean’s rainforest, and our mission has been to regenerate it while ensuring social and economic justice for all, dreaming with ecosystem balance.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Limon is a land of great extremes filled with complexity. Originally the United Fruit Company established it, which created the province's main economic driver: banana. Before, the founder Minor Keith, directed for more than 10 years the railroad development, requiring immigrant workers from China, Belize, Jamaica, and other Caribbean islands. With the railroad in the 1890s, foreigners built and owned ports, roads and sailing companies too, all owned by foreigners. The workers stayed for the banana plantations of the railroad sides. 

Parallelly, they and existing native communities (Bribri and Cabécar) practiced cacao-based food forests on small family farms evolving economically, until a fungi wiped out the cacao and brought  economic depression. 

The relationship with the Central Valley and the rest of the country involves government neglect (except during political campaigns), racism and rejection towards the Caribbean side. It was until the 1980s, that people started to recognize value in the Caribbean culture, its people, diet and lush rainforest for ecological tourism. And so, the pineapple monoculture plantations started, becoming the first pineapple producer country of the world, with the external costs of livelihood, water pollution and degradation of rainforest lands. Exploited practices of multinational corporations threatened small farmers stability, squeezing them out of their land and rehiring them as neo-slaves on the deforested land. Attempts at growing other crops through government initiatives have caused more damage than positive growth, while  public health and education services have poor coverage, frequent floods attack the area, vast toxic agrochemicals pollution fills the air and water supply of certain communities.

Even so, its people and culture endured. Their seclusion brought cultural preservation, celebrated yearly through Carnivals filled with costumed dances, banquets, masks and parades of colorful floats through the streets. Its rhythms calypso, afro-cuban musical rhythms (guaracha, chachachá, rumba) and reggae wrap up their streets. Their mouth-watering food uses traditional crops like cassava, breadfruit, chili, ginger, clove, pepper, onion, leek, thyme, nutmeg, vanilla and coconut oil, planted together as a statement. Their food is reaching all the country, making us dream of its paradisiacal beaches when we smell coconut and chilli rice and beans. The public park system protects over 40% of its land.

There is a cultural awakening among farmers trending to take back their land, their grandparents knowledge and practice the inherently abundant and regenerative agroforestry practices. 

Their hopes lay in producing freely and selling crops at a consistent fair price while ensuring food for the coming generations, for their grandchildren to stay and thrive where they were born. Even further, to transform their harvests into products among neighbors, reducing intermediaries and for so having more income for the community.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Despite being a model of environmental sustainability, Costa Rica is among the world’s leading users of pesticides (18.2 kgs / hectare -Ministry of Agriculture) while giving tax breaks and subsidies, resulting in soil degradation, water pollution and protected areas vulnerability, ending in higher carbon emissions while politically pushing for zero-carbon economy. With the current climate change pressure, by 2050 temperature will rise, creating more drastic and extreme weather (brutal droughts, lethal heat and increasing floods) ravaging our territory and its ecosystems, destroying small farmer viability to keep their farms, pushing people into seeking refuge, and reducing food’s availability while ramping its price.  

Exported monocultures increase and lack of local markets access results in poor food diversity, dominated by low nutritional imported processed foods and synthetic beverages, creating long-term chronic diseases. Traditional and local crops consumption decrease, affecting the farmers profitability while pushing these climate-resilient species to disappear. 

With no financial education, poverty and unemployment rates will increase, and people’s resilience will diminish, creating more dependency on government and NGOs financial inputs, who use them for political continuation. The elected officials become corrupt to make sure their families sustainability. Mono-crops keep offering poor employment options and drug trafficking reach out, creating social exploitation, while tourism supports mainly foreign developers. The economy and tax impositions cause mass riots that stop the fragile economic sustain.

A strong cultural movement of resistance is growing, shaded by a double standard between biodiversity protection and economical family support. School drop-out increase, racism creates separation, the afro-caribbean culture and sense of community / belonging get lost. Neo-slavery get installed. Mass migrations will continue, but by 2050 the mass-city will push people to return back, for food and shelter. 

Low research access, tech infrastructure, connectivity, and institutional support create a digital gap between Limon and the world. Tech-education is truly scarce, and the communities fail to adopt resilient sustainable practices, Agtech tools and systems that can make sure their future functioning. Younger ones have more exposure to technology, but they leave in search of job opportunities. Governmental efforts are minimal, hardly maintaining people’s needs. A doubt of democracy existing by 2050 is increasing, and international cooperation is pulling its strings inside our political conditions.

By continuing the existing food system, in 2050 our landscape might be desolate, huge amounts of lives would be lost, malnutrition, higher poverty, mass migrations, and less biodiversity resources available will push people to destroy the line of conservation lands. Cultural foods might be lost and global communication might disappear.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

A world that thrives through regenerative food forests, starting with the Caribbean side of Costa Rica. By developing a regenerative agro-culinary network in Limon, we prepare an educational model that supports agroforestry systems for the transformation and consumption of value-added products, while increasing forest areas, food sovereignty and community adaptive resilience in the face of climate change. We reproduce around the globe as a smart model for efficient and productive future food systems, improving global soil coverage and watersheds, capturing CO2, and providing food and shelter to pollinators and seed dispersers.

Agroforestry is a resilient, efficient and sustainable method from our ancestors that maximize the way we grow, share and consume a diverse variety of food in the same space. We plant many edible species together forming a multi-layer edible forest, companion plants serve their nutrient production and materials. We prepare with them efficient bio-inputs on-site, spreading into the system to balance its connection among plants, and beneficial fungi grow and create an interconnected nutrient and information net, ending up in a syntropic ecosystem. 

Jungle Project is a regenerative enterprise dedicated to trees, training, and trade. We promote by dissemination the tropical agroforestry model, researching and establishing underutilized crops like breadfruit, ñame, chaya and zapote in partnership with smallholder farmers to create value-added supply webs. We serve farming communities by diversifying farmers’ production and income, seeking market opportunities for their harvests, and fostering research and development of creative inputs, technologies, and products sourced from farmers edible forest gardens. 

Environment: Turn an oil legacy into a soil legacy. Transforming monoculture through climate-resilient agroforestry systems with diversity, harmony and love. 

Diets: Passing from agrochemical abuse to healing, health, regeneration, and education, while diversifying and recovering traditional high nutritional crops.

Economics / Policy: From poverty to abundance mindset, expansion through education and teamwork/community, networks/collaboration. Transforming lack of support to social and education integration. Polluted soil, air and water combated with health, resilience and revitalizing allocation of subsidies were they belong. 

Culture: Bountiful food supply and food sovereignty/autonomy. People living in harmony with nature using their grandparents knowledge and practices that produce abundant and regenerative agroforestry systems. 

Technology: Access to technology for pest control, communal processing facilities and high-tech managing equipment & software. Harmful agrochemicals become banned, due to its effects on the environment and alternative regenerative reach means of production. Adoption of regenerative best practices by large corporations due to consumer’s demand.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Limon’s perfect size and conditions develop a bio-regional model for the world’s tropics. Due to farmers' cultural awakening, adoption of agroforestry practices happens in a fast and fluid way. Farmer to farmer knowledge transfer ignites the transition. The pioneer families increase their nursery production to supply the diversity demand. The ongoing R&D from Jungle Project’s community results in continuous improvements, young people redirect their focus into ag-tech education which is widely accessible to keep them from migrating. Around the world people demand agroforestry based food, pushing large mono-crop industry to re-adapt. They turn into pineapple or banana based food forests led by the same farmers who started the movement. Limon feed from trees and reach high nutrition in their health and the environment, while trees gather moisture for water provision. The whole region adopts an abundance mindset, the government open-source all the knowledge generated and grant tech access required to balance conservation, minimal extraction and responsible resource-use practices.

Bio-corridors unite farms, watersheds and primary forests, species stop being endangered and giving a push to ban harmful argo-toxins. Soil coverage enlarges, making the trees supersede 5x their production rates. Empowered citizens are guardians of natural cycles and resources. Sheep, goats and chickens roam the farms giving nutrient support, dairy and eggs. The afro-caribbean culture diet is plant-forward & organic, based on local edible species diversity and density, from 4 crops to 100s. We reach 75% forest coverage sequestering CO2, with non-invasive technology to make sure responsible resource use. Limon has become a live seed bank for the world. Government, corporations and the local communities reached zero-carbon economy, and this model replicates throughout tropical nations. Local circular economy based markets rise together, neutralizing climate change effects, reaching equilibrium.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Kiss the Ground (KTG) and Jungle Project are teaming up to scale their "Revitalize the Tropics” (RLT) campaign. KTG will act as fiscal sponsor for Jungle Project to expand the program impact reach by 560% or 18 times in the next 5 years by Trees, Training and Trade. Our mission is to create a viable model in the Limon Region of Costa Rica that will be duplicated and spread throughout the tropical nationals for the next 10 years, to even disseminate globally up to 2050. 

Regenerative Agriculture aims to capture carbon in soil and biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation. It offers increased yields, resilience to climate instability, and higher health and vitality for farming and their communities. The system draws from decades of scientific and applied research by the ancient wisdom of indigenous people, organic farming, agroecology and agroforestry. Applying agroforestry with educational programs and strengthening the value-added commercial webs will support four of the global SDGs: Zero Hunger, Responsible Production & Consumption, Climate Action and Life on Land. The promotion of a diversified reforestation of productive species that favor the well-being of the environment is key to increasing biodiversity and conserving natural resources. By implementing RLT, we aim for resilient agro productive models with the equal sharing of the benefits that are consistent with the ecological and economic realities of the locality, while they sell their harvest, the trees and soil sequester more carbon. 


Environment: despite the extremely harsh climate conditions, 30 years of massive planting this system in Limon make it the center of food production for Costa Rica and neighboring nations, producing most of the country's food supply. This massive forest coverage has inspired reforestation & restoration all around the tropics. Greater carbon sequestration supports the quality & amount of healthy soil & water while reversing the leach of nitrogen and phosphorus, resulting in even greater soil health, empowering people to create more food oasis around the globe. We serve and support nature to thrive as a resilient system, from mangroves to the tip of the mountains, serving as well for the up-growing urban population while ensuring their climate resilience. The agroforestry systems also provide multiple environmental services outputs for insects, birds and other animal species that bring balance to both life on land and underwater in rivers and oceans. Forests prevent mass floods by capturing the upgrowing amount of water precipitation, maintaining the soil moisture content in equilibrium. The overall temperature in Limon drops under 6C and maintains +20% humidity level due to its forest (according to The Linnean Society’s study on palm oil plantations). All this increases the adaptability of small farms, which generates greater incomes through environmental services provided by their technological measurements, which add value to the diverse crops harvested while increasing the food-forest based productivity.

Diets: Rather than eating imported foods like bread and rice, locals will be consuming breadfruit and tubers grown in their region for carbohydrate intake. Products like breadfruit flour will become so abundant and economically viable that every household will consume it. Food is produced by a vertical agroforestry system, meaning layer upon layer of different trees, shrubs, vines, palms, groundcovers and tubers producing food. These systems support the demand of many cash crops and the animals integrated within might offer other animal based foods. Replicating this agricultural model, will mean less extension of farmland required, plus the technological inputs to reach zero waste in the food system. Overall this system will guarantee to supply the demand of local populations, giving access to desirable, safe and nutritious food for the urban population with tendency to grow in density. Secondly, the surplus will serve external countries with in site harvest to processing systems.  The external demand will require for bigger amounts of food supply, which push for food policy to enable increased food-forest based production, which result in increased quality of nutritional intake of the communities, which supports for the producers and consumers population’s quality of health & wellbeing, basing diets on efficient intake, rather than amount intake. 


Culture: Supporting social capital with farmers within the area creates adaptability and tolerance for risk, that generate competitive advantages and support the local production for economies of scale while enduring their cultural traditions. More farmers and labor force’s receive safety and wellbeing, which grants for the local communities economics, governance & rights stability. Indigenous communities and afro-caribbean descendents become the leaders of the transition movement, attracting people from around the world into the path. Pride within the communities grows so strong that traditions are seamlessly passed on from one generation to the next. The community export knowledge around the glove into tropical adaptability through agroforestry, instead of just being the producers of the world. Industry, conservation and government sectors partner up with the social movement, collaborating on the continuous improvement of best management agricultural ecosystems sustainability created to the date.

Technology: Due to the need of more productive, efficient, sustainable, inclusive, transparent and resilient food systems, local communities will receive access to farm management practices & food processing technology that will improve the quality of soil & water management and its availability, which results in higher harvest yields, increasing the % of food dollar that goes directly to local communities. AI will serve farmers' families, indicating what to do per day and in which amount/iteration. Non invasive technological equipment and software will serve the communities for them to save water, increase production yield and intake energy in the most sustainably efficient way. On-site fast lab testers and efficient fruit pickers will be at farmers disposal, the young will thrive in giving maintenance and compiling data for AI to analyze and rephrase solutions. Jungle Project’s involvement will be the constant R&D of solutions requested by the farmers to continuously improve the technology generated and distributed, facilitating the digital agriculture ecosystem allocating global investments and financing farmers proposals. Farmer to farmer knowledge transfer will occur with the support of agtech software, combining the ancestors knowledge with the facilities of future technologies have to offer. Nanotechnology will monitor and serve the fungi networks, so instead of controlling nature, tech and humans steward and serve its whole ecosystemic interactions to let it teach us the solutions to its needs. On-site tree processing equipment will facilitate harvesting, processing and distribution based on renewable energies, giving the farmer full time access to focus in developing continuous solutions within their farms. This will end up in a digital scale-up of the training program, that will accelerate the access and connectivity to further tropical nations without the need to physically travel. 


Economics: Diversifying the portfolio of high value crops and locally processed products will grant greater opportunities for farmers to access different local & international markets, supporting farmers’ level of profitability and financial security. Applying their education on financial security, they will reinvest in local workforce, supporting new economic opportunities for other productive activities within the area, which support for more local entrepreneurial initiatives resulting in community and economic development, as well as education & employment. By avoiding the exploitation of mass corporation, intermediaries that give no extra adding value and neo-slave practices, Limon will thrive economically, based on a abundant mindset in which we take what really is needed from nature. Stewarding back the land, we will install circle economy as the primal paradigm, interiorizing that the ecosystem’s balance is more precious than the excessive consumption. Waste will be socially economically and politically banned. 

Policy: giving access to food & nutritional education to local and international consumers will increase the demand of food-forest based products, which will expand the regional consumer market size resulting in food-forest based commodity sales. These subsidize the agroforestry model adoption, support for economies of scale and improves the cost of food, which define the food market prices. Even though the political system as we know it evolves, the family as a unity has become the greatest institution, which impacts policy making to receive greater economic benefits for the country, which result in a balanced community & economic development while supporting the ecosystemic balance, stop requiring NGOs help. Anthropologist work on site will become indispensable to study and validate the experiences and challenges faced by the stakeholder families, which overall will continue to support and push for their kids' education to prepare them for the generational transfer.

 “Jungle Project has shown us an infinite range of potential for agroforestry and the power of organization. The past generation has grown apart mainly due to lack of job opportunities in the area, but working with Jungle over the past years has revitalized our family ties through working the land together.” – Farmer Pablo Salas (Pejivalle) 

“The best thing has been to take care of the land without using chemicals, replacing them for natural methods Jungle Project has taught us.” Farmer José Ortega (Pejivalle) 

More Info:

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Prize partners
  • Chris Lindstrom


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Photo of CEAGRO Centro de Desenvolvimento Sustentável e Capacitação em Agroeocologia

Congrats for your work! Its very important for us see another people living a similar of our situation. If you wanna came to Brazil please came to visit us. And we would love to exchange some experiences and tecniques with you.

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