A look at life on a restorative farm with our farmer, Don Juan.
Buenos días a todos. Good morning, it’s dawn here in Costa Rica and as the sun rises so do I. For more than 50 years, I’ve been happily getting up with the sun, heading out at dawn to tend to the thriving plants on my farm.
Those plants haven’t always been as healthy and happy as they are now. For many years, this morning light made visible those parts of my farm which, instead of a lush green, were a sad brown. Production was still okay. But, could it be better?
When Thrive Natural Care entered my world about five years ago the answer became clear.
The same plants that I’m about to check on are also in this face wash.
I work really hard every day so that these native plants are strong and healthy. That way, down the road, people can enjoy all the healing benefits they have.
And as people want more of my plants and these products, I can plant more and keep my farm going strong as well.
I’m proud that my hard work keeps this cycle going.
¿Cómo estás? How are you?
At the farm, I ask the Fierrillo how it is doing. And I tell it that today is harvest day.
Some of my neighbors may think I’m crazy for talking to my plants. But I’m not. I’ve been growing crops since before many of them were born. And I know there’s a right way and a wrong way to grow strong, healthy plants.
A bunch of botanists have been here to analyze my plants. They are amazed at how healthy they are and ask me, “How do you do it?” I just smile and tell them, “I talk to my plants.”
Gracias. Thank you, Fierrillo, for working hard every day to grow so big and be so healthy.
Maybe it understands, maybe not. But I do believe that plants feel my positive (or negative) energy. So I try to always be positive, treating those plants how I would wish to be treated.
It’s time to get to work. By 10:00 AM, Mario will be here to collect the Fierrillo we’re harvesting. This year’s batch is our largest yet.
Restorative agriculture techniques are paying off, harvest after harvest, and all the days in between. I didn’t always do things this way. I used to be a herbicide guy. It was what I knew. It was cheap. And in the short-term, it got the job done.
But when I started planting Fierrillo for Thrive, that wasn’t an option. I worked with the team to develop a new, totally natural way of doing things, and my soil and the whole ecosystem around my farm was better for it.
Herbicides were out, so for weed control I invested in a weed wacker. It took longer, was more expensive than herbicides (which I had used on other parts of my farm 3–4 times a year), and took more time.
But something magical happened on that Fierrillo plot after a little while. Remember the sad brown parts of the farm I mentioned? It didn’t have any. It was green. Jungle, tropical, brilliant green!
I’m sure there is a deep science to it, which our R&D director and fellow Costa Rican, Laura, can attest to. But I knew what my eyes were seeing. And that was more than enough.
My son, Gabriel, continues with more weed wacking on another part of the farm, by the peach palms, of which we have more than 400!
When we stopped using herbicides on other parts of our farm those other crops also benefited. We noticed the biggest change in our fruits. They were much healthier and looked better, mostly because our soil stored more moisture. The soil was healthier too.
Healthier soil was the result of planting native plants alongside our crops to boost biodiversity and have better weed control. As my father taught me, it’s important to leave vegetation close to plants of interest.
Some plants can work together so that they, and the surrounding ecosystem, are healthier for it.
For example, alongside our Juanilama if the soil is exposed the sun will dehydrate the roots. With a little vegetation there, like some grass, moisture will stay in that area and our Juanilama will be grateful for it.
The pile of Fierrillo is big. Really big. We’ll have a tough time loading it all into Mario’s truck. It’s actually a great problem to have, a sign of a healthy ecosystem and a productive farm.
Organic fertilizer also played a role in that haul. It’s a recent addition to the new methods we’ve started to use in partnership with Thrive.
It worked so well with the Thrive plants, Juanilama and Fierrillo, that we ditched the synthetic fertilizer we had been using on our peach palms and other crops.
When I look out at the plot of land where I grow Thrive ingredients, I’m grateful every day that the regenerative techniques used there can be used across all of my land.
¡Pura vida, amigos! Mario is here.
Time to load up and send him on his way to process the Fierrillo. He’s also brought the money which Thrive pays us every month (in addition to purchasing the crops) as part of their Restoration Management Techniques(RMT) program.
Planting native plants to boost biodiversity, improve soil health and act as weed controllers.
Using organic fertilizer.
Ditching all things synthetic.
Leaving our farm better than we found it.
It’s a natural formula inspired by the natural world around us.
It’s a formula I’ve had to test and learn, and test some more. Thrive honors that effort I’ve made and continue to make. They recognize that sometimes bigger investments, buying a weed whacker, for example, are needed.
Their support means the land is happier and healthier, and therefore so is my family.
Truck loaded. And it’s time to head home for lunch. There have been huge changes on our farm since we started working with our friends at Thrive, but I also notice positive changes in my home.
For example, we’ve started to earn more money and save that monthly income to invest in our home, improving the structure or buying a few more modern appliances. We also make sure we save for my grandson, Abner. He’s a curious kid. And I love that he loves to help out on the weekends with whatever the farm and plants need that day.
A commitment to regenerative agriculture hasn’t just restored my farmland, it’s had a regenerative impact on our way of life. It will continue do so month after month, harvest after harvest, on my farm and all future farms that Thrive partners with. Even after I am here no more.
There’s still a few hours left to keep those plants happy. To make sure they have everything they need to do their job, to grow big and healthy.
Back out to the farm.
It’s a labor of love, and always has been for me. But lately, that dose of Thrive has made every hour and every day a bit sweeter.
Because I know that what we’re doing and how we’re doing it is leaving my world a little bit better every day.
And if working with these plants and with Thrive has taught me anything, it’s that we’re all connected. Better soil on my farm means healthier plants, a healthier farm, and also better skincare products for you.
So, from my farm to your face, your world gets a little better every day too.