An Evolution of Hearth
In 1985, following ten years of commercial success but frustrated at
the transformation from intrepid entrepreneur to bottled-up bureaucrat, my
wife and I decided to build a permanent family homestead in Costa Rica's
mountainous Central Valley.
Luckily we discovered an abandoned dairy farm on the southern slopes of a
national park just a short distance from capital city San Jose. Although
resident squatters had other plans for the property, after two emotional
years of legal wrangling we finally prevailed in May of 1987.
Partly out of desperation I promised a move by Christmas. Infrastructure,
home renovation, apple orchard. Literally on December 24 we transported our
personal belongings from a rented house in the city to the dilapidated barn
on our new homestead. Eleven years after the birth of our first child,
finally we guided our tenuous caravan onto higher ground.
Blessed with rich, well-drained volcanic soils in the cool, moist climate of
the north central highlands, at La Ronda we propagate a wide variety of
temperate and tropical fruits, herbs, vegetables and hardwoods both for
habitat restoration and for seed, barter, or sale. To preserve the native
ecology and maintain good health we raise each crop "biodynamically" using
only natural, organic amendments.
On the edge of wilderness, we share our homestead with horses (Chispa and Filly), dogs, rabbits, ducks, chickens, and an extraordinary diversity of native wildlife, including hummingbirds, pygmy owls, motmots, tanagers, saltators,
toucanets, parrots, parakeets, egrets, herons, kingfishers, dove, quail,
hawks, agoutis, porcupines, weasels, etc.
We also sponsor community service projects and wilderness treks there. For
example, in recent years students and instructors of the North Carolina
Outward Bound School have joined with local schoolkids to plant trees and
collect trash along the gravel road to the national park, an event later
punctuated with a cookout and cross-cultural soccer match.
The Stewards of La Ronda and Terra Folia: The Chatham Family
La Ronda, a former abandoned dairy farm we acquired in 1987 after a two-year
legal battle, consists of 15 acres (six hectares) of rolling hills on the
southern edge of Braulio Carrillo National Park. This is the home where we
raised our children. We consider our homestead an example of alternative,
low-impact living. At La Ronda we raise a variety of herbs, veggies, fruits,
medicinals and ornamentals using integrated pest management (IPM) techniques
and natural, organic materials to control potential crop pests and disease.
La Ronda is also our window on the rainforest. For guests and visitors, La
Ronda is your first refuge from the pangs of human civilization, your first
exciting steps into those spiritual and biological "cathedrals of light."
You Can Help.
La Ronda is our living laboratory of learning, a 'springboard' for outreach to Earth stewards everywhere, and now at our sister operation Terra Folia we
are inspiring the fight to preserve critical wilderness habitat.
We sincerely hope you will join the fight to preserve the last rainforests on
Earth. Every day an area of rainforest the size of Braulio Carrillo National
Park is cleared for short-term profit. There is only so much wilderness left.
Please contact us and discover how you can help. Also, see the "To Learn More" page.
Staying at La Ronda:
- You can go straight from the airport to LR and avoid
in San Jose, yet still be only 15 minutes from the capital for shopping, etc;
- LR has all the accomodations--telephone, hot water, bus system, garden,
etc--only a short walk from Braulio Carillo National Park;
- LR is for lounging, gardening, bird-watching; Terra Folia is for serious
hiking and a richer wilderness experience.