August 2011


We will be back in Indiana in just 2 short days. I can’t believe our 2 week trip to Costa Rica is nearly over. I’ve learned and experienced so much in such a short amount of time.

We spent this week working with the Board of Directors of APOT, the organic farmer organization in Costa Rica. We worked with them to improve communications within their organization, to define direct goals and objectives, and improve marketing opportunties. We then met with other members of the group to help them define their roles within the organization and assist them in marketing and developing their products.

So how do I see this opportunity helping Indiana farmers and producers? The knowledge we have learned and connections we have made will assist us in helping others. By having a better understanding of struggles in other countries, I believe we can assist our producers in making better and more informed decisions.

I plan on offering educational presentations such as “Organic Farming in Costa Rica” and the “Flora and Fauna of Central Costa Rica”.   I am anxious to share my experiences (and many photos) with others. I want to thank Purdue University and Farmer to Farmer for this unique and absolutely fabulous opportunity.

Stacy Clupper

Purdue Extension,Ag and Natural Resources Educator, Blackford County

Hello from Costa Rica!  I’m having  a fabulous experience as an “Extensionista”, the name for Extension Educators here.  I have had the most rewarding experience. I have felt that the work we all have done here has been useful to the community. They have also felt the commitment we have to help them succeed.  We have connected with the members of the community, an accoplishment on its own, as connecciones take a long time to make. We have encountered a great group of people, fantastic individuals, all committed to make their work count to enrich their communities. More details to come!

–Carmen

We spent today traveling to and visiting with a group of indigenous people living in the mountains of Costa Rica. What an experience to drive 30 miles, but taking about 1.5 hours because of the winding and turning roads. Once we got to the stopping point, we had to hike to their actual homes. That took another 30 minutes or so.

I had no idea what to expect of our visit with these people. We talked about how difficult it was for them to get their produce to a market as they have to transport it by horse to a central location. There a small truck that can make it through the small dirt roads picks up the bananas and takes them to another larger truck on the mail road. We discussed possible ways Purdue Extension might help this group and what could be done.

The October group will be spending mre time focusing on this group as today was more of a fact finding mission for us. I am sure they will be able to provide some much needed help.

What an experience with the hike and meeting the indigenous people. I am amazed at how resourceful they have become with such limited resources.

Stacy

We have been in Costa Rica for five days and I still can’t believe I am here. What a beautiful country with wonderful and inventive people. We have met several wonderful farmers and farm families who are concerned about their environment and working hard to make it better for all.

Today we visited an organic sugar cane grower and processor. Talk about innovative! He and his family have worked hard to create a more healthy product in more markets. They have dreams of a tourism business and plan to continue producing and supporting four families with the farm.

We spent several hours this week working with members of a cooperative to help them improve their organization. We were so pleased when we visited their farmer market stand today and saw they had already implemented a few of our suggestions and have more plans in the works.

I know our work here is going to make a positive impact for the APOT members, but I just can’t help thinking how this trip has made such a positive impact on me and what I am going to bring home to my family and my clients.

 

Stacy

Time has flown this summer especially over the last few weeks.  Work with our county fair, the state fair, attending the Sustainable Agriculture Education Association conference and squeezing-in some time off for my kids have consumed July and the beginning of August.  I have not had an over-abundance of time to contemplate or prepare for this trip.  Thankfully, last minute is usually the way I work best!  One reoccurring theme which has been rumbling through my thoughts in the time leading up to this trip is gratitude to Purdue and the other sponsoring agencies for providing this opportunity. 

The one downside of the timing of this trip is that I’ll miss my youngest son, Ian’s,  first day of first grade but I know my husband, my parents and our family friends will give both of my boys all the support and assistance that they need as they transition back to school.  Not to worried about my 10 year old Will he embraces just about every new experience.

Thankfully communication with the states will be easier than my previous overseas experience which was as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic. Back then, 1993-1995, cell phones and the internet obviously were not at my disposal on a daily basis. I’m excited to experience another Hispanic culture and nervous about how well my Dominican Spanish will be understood by the Costa Ricans.  I’m also really excited to work with APOT and the individual farmers.  I’ve worked some with a farmers’ cooperative here, the Local Growers Guild but this experience will give me a different perspective.  As with the Dominicans I worked with in Peace Corps, I’ll probably learn more from the Costa Ricans than they will learn from me but I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge and experience.  I’m thankful that Jim and Tamara will be working with us and helping to provide continuity for our work, the work of the March group and the group to follow us in October. 

On a final note, I’d also like to give a shout-out to my ANR neighbors Chris Parker, Jenise BohBrink and Jenna Smith for covering my calls/contacts while I’m out of the office.  THANK YOU!

–Amy

I am really excited about this trip and the opportunity to work with farmers in Costa Rica. Just as much as I hope to bring my knowledge and expertise to them, I know I will learn so much that will be brought back with me to Indiana and Blackford County.  

I’ve traveled out of the U.S. only as a cruise ship vacationer and when I was a grad student at Purdue. At that time, I went to England and Scotland for a three-week educational study program. That’s been a few years ago, so traveling to Cost Rica will truly be a whole new experience.

Definite do’s for me is to learn from the farmers some of their techniques and philosophies, share my experiences as a 15 year Extension veteran, and eat a truly fresh banana. I am looking forward to this adventure and am ready to go.

Stacy