The SDC was founded when a large international company along with other developers threatened to divert the vast majority of the water from the Veracruz River, which would have limited the accessibility of drinking water for future generations and destroy the livelihoods of farmers in Guacimal and nearby communities. The farmers and communities got organized, and successfully challenged the water withdrawal under the Costa Rican constitutional right to live in a healthy environment. As part of this initial resistance movement, the co-founders of the SDC came together to buy a historic (La Casona de Guacimal)  building in the center of town and set up the Sustainability Demonstration Center (SDC), running educational programs, creating and supporting a farmer’s market, and finding new ways to build the local economy while enhancing environmental quality.

There are three major categories of activities at the SDC: rural economic sustainable development, environmental protection, and education, though there is also a strong animal welfare component.  All of these activities have enjoyed the support and participation of hundreds of people over the last four years; and have significantly changed the quality of life in the region.

 

Rural Economic Sustainable Development:

 

The SDC provides free space and facilitates many classes such as: food handling through the National Institute of Learning (Instituto Nacional de Aprendizaje), organic farming and healthy foods through the University of Costa Rica, soap making, bread baking, and seed saving (with the help of various individuals and organizations). These workshops have attracted over hundreds of people in the last four years. 

 

Ecotourism is an alternative to the local cattle and dairy farming which cause massive deforestation and water shortages:

 

  

The farmers market runs every Saturday, and has provided the local community with a cultural and community center – It is visited by hundreds of visitors every year, including many from the community itself:

 

 

 

Enjoying our local farmers' market:

 

Environmental Conservation:

The SDC has initiated reforestation efforts, educated the local community about recycling, spearheaded the formation of a river protection coalition, offered workshops on permaculture and agro-ecology, and have hosted visitors from all over the world by offering short stays and tours of an experimental organic farm, educational programs for students on environmental conservation, and festivals to celebrate cultural and community sustainability. They have set up a tree nursery in cooperation with the FCC and the Monteverde Institute, and have planted and distributed thousands of tress for planting throughout the region. They have also offered animal welfare workshops, clinics, and rescue services, with educational programs on bats, large felines, rats, bees, and rabies prevention. Participation in all these activities over four years has numbered in the hundreds – they keep a detailed log that is available for every activity they offer.

 

Harvesting organic rice the traditional way while educating students :

 

 

The University of Costa Rica, Environmental Kiosks helps us secure our own food through their Agroecology Program :

 

 

Taking care of our tree nursery:

 

 

Education:

In addition to the rural economic development and environmental conservation workshops and activities described above, the SDC has offered cultural experiences, arts education, and personal development workshops for the local community. This has included health workshops on yoga, conflict resolution, medicinal plants and healing practices, neural stimulation, and Bach flower therapy. Cultural events have included bringing theater productions to Guacimal, musical entertainment at the farmer’s market every Saturday, a puppet workshop for children, a cultural club, communication workshops, yarn making and crochet, traditional games, historic preservation, lectures by leading academics, and a summer camp for local and international children.

 

Milling and learning about organic rice:

 

 

 

Learning how to make cheese from local milk:

 

 

 

 

 

If you're planning a visit to Monteverde, make sure you stop by and spend some time with us. Whether it's so you can stretch your legs, eat and take a swim while on your journey to Monteverde (especially great if you have children with you) or just escape the busy tourist hot-spots and enjoy some peaceful time in nature, we have so many wonderful activities for you to enjoy such as hiking, bird-watching, refreshing swims in the river, horseback riding, tour of the historic center, animal welfare program, and more!

The farmer's market runs every Saturday from noon to 5pm. There are always delicious, traditional meals made over an open fire, freshly prepared fruit drinks, and local desserts available.There is marimba music, dancing, delicious local produce and artisanal crafts for sale when available. Please stop by!

100% of proceeds go towards animal welfare, social & economic justice, education and environmental protection projects at the Sustainability Demonstration Center.

Check out the "Local Programs" and "Volunteer" tabs for more ways to explore and enjoy the Sustainability Demonstration Center !