Regenerative Farming Revolution: Inside Alegría Village in Costa Rica
Updated: Aug 14
Discover the Costa Rican eco-village, where regenerative farmers are teaching people how to live a truly self-sustaining life in the hills of San Mateo.
Imagine a place where lush greenery, other-worldly views, and sustainable, self-sufficiency was the norm. A village where access to edible gardens, truly conscious living, and where abundant clean energy and water are all part of the deal! Well, that's the dream that the founders behind Alegría Village in Costa Rica set out to create.
During our time in Costa Rica in June 2022, we were exceptionally lucky to visit this remarkable village, centred around the belief that living at one with the earth, doesn't have to cost the earth itself.
Located in the hills of San Mateo, Alegría's growing community of over 45 families from all over the world use regenerative farming practices to grow veggies, fruit, and herbs for the community, as well as to restore the ecosystem on which it thrives (formerly damaged by animal agriculture), uses all-natural, locally sourced building materials for its infrastructure, and relies on Costa Rica's 98% clean energy (additionally supplemented by optional individual solar panels on residents' homes.)
How It Started
When co-founder and ethnobotanist Stephen Brookes saw first-hand the destruction that deforestation and other agricultural practices had caused in Costa Rica on both the environment and its indigenous people, he began to consider what could be done to improve or change this system, and to educate people about regenerative systems that could restore areas that had been damaged by conventional agricultural processes.
In 1997, Brookes co-created Punta Mona, his first community-driven project where people could come to experience a different way of living, while also learning how to care for the land to restore the ecosystem to its proper balance.
After much success (and even a feature in Zac Efron's Netfliix series Down to Earth), Brookes decided that he wanted to build a larger community that could provide support for families looking to live closer to Costa Rica's capital of San Jose with more amenities like a school for children and internet access. With this vision in mind, he helped to co-create La EcoVilla in 2012, a community that provided all of the basic needs of families, while still maintaining a close relationship with nature.
After only a few years and successfully fostering another community of 43 families from 29 different countries (including many native Costa Ricans), the idea for Alegría Village was born. Building on Punta Mona's and La EcoVilla's founding principles of regenerative agriculture, Alegría takes this guiding idea one step further by restoring formerly desolate land in its entirety.
By decontaminating local water supplies, ensuring healthy and nutrient-dense soil, emitting very little carbon dioxide, and by growing food for human consumption in harmony with the natural flora of the area, an accommodating environment home to native microorganisms, plants, and animals can thrive. This results in fertile soil, robust crops, and strong ecosystems that don’t require any chemical treatments for pests or plant diseases. The natural cycles of life may continue on infinitely.
Taking everything they had learned from both Punta Mona and La EcoVilla, the goal for the Alegría Village was to virtually eliminate the need for outside products by growing everything on-site and trading with other local businesses and nearby communities. Not only is Alegría Village self-sustaining, but they also hope to be a source of support for local communities in the area.
A paradise for those wishing to live a more sustainable life, over 98% of Costa Rica’s energy comes from renewable sources, but villagers are still welcome to purchase their own solar panels if they choose to be completely self-sufficient. The property also has two wells and natural springs on-site, giving members access to clean water.
The village's shared spaces were also specifically built to encourage members to connect with each other and the natural environment while providing spaces for activities like meditation and yoga. Since establishing Alegría's food forest in August 2018, they've planted over 8000 square miles (2 acres) of land and have over 600 fruit trees in a community orchard throughout the property. They now produce 90 kg (200 lbs) of organic produce each week and even host monthly farm-to-table dinners for residents and friends!
Alegría is an inspiring example of how we can come together to create communities that foster a more sustainable and environmentally conscious way of living. This model could be replicated in many other places around the world, and it's important to remember that it's within our power to make a difference! If Alegría Village sounds like your kind of dream, you can check them out online to apply for residency within the community. Who knows, you just might find yourself living in what we imagine is one of the happiest, greenest places on earth!