When the Sostheim family bought the 400-acre (162 hectares) property in 2004, it was over-grazed farmland. At present, forty percent of the property is in production use while the remaining sixty percent is returning to the forest or being actively reforested. Reforesting the land is a priority for us for many reasons, and agroforestry is one way we achieve this goal even in our production space. Agroforestry restoration at Rancho Margot has included planting hundreds of trees in an effort to reconnect the biological corridor between North and South Americas. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our generation. Trees are more efficient at storing carbon than crops; agroforestry is one small step we take at Rancho Margot to improve our local atmosphere and do our part to decelerate global warming.
Where agroforestry and chemical-free agriculture constitute our land-use ethic, permaculture is how we strive to weave human needs into this delicate balance. Permaculture is a derivative of permanent agriculture and permanent culture. The hybrid is important because a culture can’t flourish without a sustainable land-use system. How the Rancho Margot community approaches food production, housing, energy, transportation, etc. is determined within the context of a land-use system based on sustainable methods.
Promoting sustainable practices is important throughout Costa Rica. Rancho Margot is located in an environmentally sensitive region known as the Biosphere of Water and Peace, an UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Conservation and sustainable use and respect for natural resources is critically important in this area on both a national and international scale. Beyond offering visitors and residents a peaceful setting within which they can commune with nature, Rancho Margot, with its focus on experiential education, is a seedbed of innovation and a model of sustainable business operation and living.