From Our Farms, To Your Face: Why Regenerative Agriculture Impacts So Much More Than The Environment

Saludos, amigos. Mario here, Thrive’s Head of Regenerative Operations.

I’m writing to tell you that “regenerative” isn’t just about focusing on plants. Or soil. Or the birds and the bees.

Yes, it’s all that good stuff, but it takes much more to make it really happen.

It takes a dedicated team in Costa Rica and San Francisco to stick with it through all the ups and downs. It takes investors who share our vision for business that leaves things better than we found them. It takes partners like Whole Foods Market and Amazon who believe good products can also be good for the planet.

It takes customers like you who want to align who you are with what you buy, no compromises.

And, of course, in our case it takes a growing group of farmers who believe that regenerative farming isn’t just good for the environment, it’s great for their own well-being as well.

People like our farmer, Don Juan.

It’s that part of our collaboration with farmers, especially Don Juan, that I want to share with you today — how we work with him and how he works with us. And why we think it helps us make the best natural skin care you can find.

Bienvenidos a Costa Rica, and to Don Juan’s farm.

The Human Impact of a Regenerative Approach

After family, a farmer’s land is everything.

I’ve worked with Don Juan for over three years now and have seen how a regenerative approach actually helps both his land and his family.

Don’t get me wrong, Don Juan was a successful farmer before we rolled around. Traditional farming was working in the short-term. But we showed up and asked, could it work even better? We found we had mutual curiosity about a new way of doing things. So, we learned from him. About his land. The plants. The challenges.

And we shared with him what we knew (at least, in those early days) about regenerative farming.

We knew we needed all hands on deck to figure out how to make regenerative work.

With Don Juan’s experience as a farmer and with my knowledge of what different plants can add to the ecosystem, we learned some important things which we are now applying:

  • Don Juan suggested using fallen leaves and plants from the farm to create organic fertilizer, in order to nourish the same plants in that ecosystem.
  • We started planting additional plants, apart from our super plants Juanilama and Fierrillo, in order to attract those birds and bees, promoting better biodiversity.
  • I realized we could also introduce other unique plants to improve the quality of the soil.
  • We learned that applying organic compost gave recently clipped plants a little extra pick-me-up post-harvest.

As we learned and improved, this helped us harvest the most potent plants we could for your natural skincare. And yes, it helped our business grow and continues to do so.

It also helped Don Juan’s land literally bloom year after year. His yields increased dramatically which meant, of course, with that extra production he could sell more every harvest to his other customers.

With his own business booming more and more, he re-invested that economic opportunity into his home, making improvements on his family’s land, and setting up his children to be similarly successful. You know, those things that any dedicated dad would want for his family and kids.

And as his livelihood has improved, other farming families have taken note.

What is this regenerative thing?

We now work with 24 farming families in Costa Rica, and a big part of my job is exploring with whom we are going to partner (and learn new things with) next.

Making Better Products Synonymous With Better Farmer Lives

After working with Don Juan for a while we asked ourselves, our farmers, and our partners at Coopecuna, a women-led co-op, what would make our plants even better while also helping to make their lives better, too?

In addition to the farming approaches that Don Juan shared, it was clear that processing the plants to create those powerful oils could be done right there in those farming communities.

So we made the initial investment in the machinery needed to enable our farming partners to distill oils from the plants themselves. This has been and continues to be better for us, and for them, too. Because we don’t need any middle man — we buy the oils directly from them. And they benefit from that extra value — they distill oils from their other plants to sell to other clients as well.

This way, as our business grows so do the economic benefits for the people really making that happen from the ground in Costa Rica.

Inspiring the Regenerative Way

When I look at Don Juan’s fields or have dinner with his family, or visit our partners at Coopecuna, I see right in front of me how the positive impacts of our regenerative mindset spirals outward into everything we touch.

Better soil quality. More potent plants. Higher quality natural skincare. Improved livelihoods for our farmers, their families, and their communities.

I also recall how many people are actually involved in helping a regenerative business come to life. From Amazon to Whole Foods Market, our investors and, of course, our customers.

The best part of that global community is that with every hour worked or penny spent or harvest completed, other people take notice. It’s hard to miss something out of the ordinary that’s impacting so many lives.

As all of our partners know, leaving things better may start with our agriculture, but it expands way beyond it as well. And this can be (and we hope will be) simply how all business is done, from Costa Rica to San Francisco, and around the world.

 

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