Will in the garden

Here I am at the farm with Tierra Pacifica’s organic farm manager, Elias Roriguez. We’re experiencing great success by combining traditional agricultural methods with contemporary innovations.

Gardener’s Supply has been promoting organic gardening techniques and composting since 1984. During these past 25 years, our customers have produced millions of tons of carbon-rich compost to make their gardens more productive. Here in Burlington, Vt., the community composting program that we started about 15 years ago, is now converting hundreds of thousands of tons of organic waste into compost for area gardeners, landscapers and farmers.

And guess what? All this carbon-rich material that we’re adding to the soil is also removing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. This means that while we’re making the soil more productive, we’re also helping to mitigate climate change by sequestering some of the excess carbon that’s been released by human activity over the past 200 years. What’s good for our gardens is also good for the planet!

For the past several years, I’ve been spending winters in Costa Rica where my wife’s family lives. In the tropics, deforestation, thin soils and unrelenting heat, wind and sun make soil building a far more critical need than it is here in North America.

Growing beds are heavily mulched to retain moisture while seeds are germinating.

Fruit-bearing trees have been planted throughout the farm as windbreaks and to provide shade for understory crops.Since 1999 I’ve been working with a small horticultural training center on Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast, to develop new gardening and farming techniques that store more carbon and produce more vegetables and fruits on less land. We call this system “chinampas” growing, because it’s based on the traditional Mayan raised/sunken growing beds, combined with agro forestry and organic gardening techniques.

If you’re interested in learning more, please check out www.elcentroverde.org, or contact me (see the El Centro Verde website)

Shade netting is one of the “modern” innovations that’s proving to be very useful, especially for greens and transplants. In this photo you can clearly see the concept of chinampas gardening, in which some growing areas are raised and some are at or below grade.

if you’ll be in Costa Rica and would like to visit our test gardens at Tierra Pacifica in Guanacaste.

-Will Raap, Founder and Chairman