When we planned a trip to Costa Rica during our MBA reading break, we made sure to fit in a few community service projects so that we can volunteer at local communities while we travel. At an elementary school in Uvita, we helped out with building a chemical and pesticide free hydroponic garden. The project’s main aim was to provide vegetables to underprivileged students at no cost.
We had access to scrap wooden planks from which we assorted long, usable 2″X4″ logs to build the platform for hydroponic garden above the ground. After building the box frame for the vegetables and plants, we covered the platform with a waterproof liner and stapled its edges to the 0sides of the box frame. We then crushed wood charcoal and mixed it with the fine powdered growing medium. After that we watered the light and airy growing medium so that the vegetables could have plenty of humidity once they are planted.
Once the platforms with growing medium were ready, we transplanted pre-grown small vegetable plants in rows at equal distances. After planting the vegetables, we moved on to building a roof on top of the garden that can act as a greenhouse for the garden and protect it from too much heat or rain. And finally our hydroponic garden was ready for free supply of vegetables to these kids.
As we continued working on our hydroponic farm, we learned that plants can grow a lot faster using this new soil less technique of farming compared to conventional farming methods. It turns out they can absorb more nutrients from the growing medium compared to ground soil. And since there is absolutely no soil used, there are no soil-borne diseases that require the application of toxic pesticides. While working on this project, we also had a chance to hang out with the kids. They simply were adorable and were very curious about where we were all from and what exactly we were working on.
Besides volunteering, we also got a chance to relax at Eco Lodge and participate in a number of adventures such as zip lining, rappelling, white water rafting and surfing while we were in Costa Rica.