Article by Kiwano Hotels
‘Behind the Green’ is all about giving you more insight into the places we feature. Our interviews reveal what happens behind the scenes, tells the stories of the people on the ground, exposes the challenges they face, as well as the communities they impact; essentially the bits you don’t usually hear.
Meet Thomas one of the owners whose principal residence is at the Finca Luna Nueva Lodge. He loves nothing more than to escape to the music of the rainforest. He is kept busy with five grandchildren in his spare time. He is one of the most passionate people we have had the pleasure of speaking to about regenerative farming and how to combat climate change.
How did Finca Luna Nueva start? And become an eco-lodge?“It was a farm originally founded in 1994 by Steven and Kimberly (Steven’s daughter), it was not open to the public back then. Steven was (and continues to be) a pioneer of agriculture in Costa Rica where scientists from all over came to study regenerative farming practices. Later my wife and I joined them in 1999, we lived in the U.S at the time where I ran my own business which purchased organic ginger from Finca Luna Nueva, that was the link between us. The lodge prior to my involvement had always been my happy place, somewhere I could go to feel replenished and seek refuge. I spent 3 months of the year every year at this incredible farm.
How would you best describe Finca Luna Nueva to potential guests?“The first thing that surprises people is just how busy, loud and active the rainforest is. When staying at the lodge you are immersed in the beating heart of nature quite literally. The noise is not synthetic, or metallic there is a pulse to it which never leaves you. Whenever I return to the U.S it shocks me each time to hear just how quiet it is. We are all essentially living in a quiet box with windows around, this usually blocks out any sound. The rainforest is not silent, so this is the best most honest description of it”.
What is the most sustainable aspect of the lodge which you are most proud of?“This is a little controversial but I reject your use of the word sustainable. If you are told that there won’t be anything left in 20 years to farm ‘regeneration‘ is the word to use not sustainable. We are way past sustainable now, we missed the wake up call a long time ago. We cannot sustain anything in its current state, it is just too damaged for this approach. There are a lot of places out there calling themselves sustainable there are not many using the word regenerative. We hope to recharge peoples souls with hope when they come here either to stay or to learn, to show them the future can be abundant if we think regenerative”.
What is the best part of running a truly green and eco-friendly lodge?“We love being an eco-lodge for guests to come to stay, but more than anything else this is a place where people can come to see regenerative agriculture. We are a place of hope for a lot of people. We are one of the few living examples of how we can manage our way through climate change with abundance! There is a solution which leaves the soil more fertile, which utilises rain, which makes the food we grow more nourishing. Witnessing and being part of this planet-altering effort is the best part about it”.
What is the best eco-activity for people to engage with whilst staying there?“There are two I would like to share…
1) The farm tour which every single guest gets to enjoy. We guide them through our food forest with thousands of tropical trees. This is our chance to show people our regenerative experiment which is the most essential experience one can have here.
2) 1000 year journey into chocolate is a must! We grow cacao on the farm, we harvest it, dry it, ferment and roast them. We make cacao the way they did 1000 years ago. We take guests on a journey from the very beginning when the ancient gods drank it to as we know of chocolate today”.
What has been the biggest challenge to date for you and the team?“We didn’t even have a road to begin with, we are now very happy to inform all guests that there is a good road that comes straight to the lodge. Back then it was a mud/rock road which is best described as ‘where the sidewalk ends’. We choose this site for the richness of the soil however it was a real challenge in terms of access, which we have now overcome”.
Is there anything you would do differently if you could start again?“Yes. If I had known where we are today back in 1999 and know what I know now I would have done some things differently. We started as a farm, not as an eco-lodge, we were not equipped for the general public to visit before, we were a place for scientists to come and learn. Consequently, we reverse engineered aspects and backed into it with some degree of difficulty. The road would have been smoother if we had known the evolution of the site to where it is today”.
What’s next for Finca Luna Nueva Lodge?“We are expanding our infrastructure so we are able to handle larger groups, as well as student groups which seek long term participation. We have more and more NGOs coming to do retreats with us at our facility to learn the skills of regeneration. The carbon underground is another organisation I built which is essentially a network of regenerative activists worldwide. It is all about sharing knowledge and reaching out to thought leaders in this space moving forward”.