Rancho Margot, sustainable living

IMG_2824 (Medium)Whilst we were in the area around Volcan Arenal, we made a visit to Rancho Margot, a working example of truly sustainable living.
The ranch was started six years ago by Juan Sostheim, an Argentinean, who had been visiting the area on holiday, but fell in love with the surrounding landscape.
He decided to buy 400 acres on the shores of Lake Arenal and has spent the last years applying old and new techniques of farming and science to create this marvellous place.

After arrival, we were taken on a tour of the farm by our guide, Jose.
We started through the gardens, with examples of much of the native flora of Costa Rica.
Then we were shown the hot water system – heated by Compost!
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There were six ‘pens’ of general garden and kitchen waste, in varying stages of decomposition.
In each pen were several metres of pipe containing water. As the compost is broken down by micro-organisms in the soil, it creates temperatures of around 40-50 degrees celcius in the middle, heating the water in the pipes which is used for the hot water in all the accomodation and kitchen. Hot enough for a nice shower, but not nearly hot enough to burn.
An even larger scale version is used to heat the pool.

The farm area consisted of organic vegatable and herb gardens as well as chicken, pig and cattle.
No pesticides or synthetic fertilisers are used. Undesirable insects are kept away from the open sided green-house by a surrounding row of Basil plants! As simple as that.
Fertilizer is the methodically re-constituted manure from the farm animals. Solid waste is seperated from liquid and then broken down by earth worms until it is rich, dark soil again.
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They also make all their own soaps, cleaning products, insect repellants and herbal medicines. All from what they grow on the ranch.

Electricity is provided by two small hydro-electric generators. One 8kW and the other 20kW.
They run off two streams flowing through the property, are quite unobtrusive, and provide electricity for a hotel of 15 or so rooms, 4 bungalows, bar, large kitchen, office, as well as the owners residences.

Gas for cooking is made by the bio-digestor: Liquid waste from the animals is collected in a large flexible tank, air is eliminated and then the liquids are broken down by micro-organisms to methane gas and further liquid waste which can then be treated through marsh and pond plants before going back into the natural system.

Besides being self sufficient, the ranch has other projects such as rescue and rehabilitation of forest animals, re-growth of rain forest, sponsorship of ranger patrols against poachers in the nearby Monteverde Cloud Forest and is a part of the program Children’s Eternal Forest.
They have a volounteer progam for individuals and groups to come and work and learn about their methods.
All in all, it was an eye opening experience, set in a magical, beautiful oasis.

James

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One Response to “Rancho Margot, sustainable living”

  1. Interesting post, thanks james and thanks especially for photos too. I wonder if the hotel makes the place economic? We’d love to visit Rancho Margot, but its a long way to go!

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