Frequently Asked Questions
Location And Transportation
We are located in the area of Lanas de Puriscal, Costa Rica. The nearest large town is Santiago de Puriscal, which is about 20 kilometers/13 miles Northeast as the crow flies, but due to the mountainous terrain and rural roads, takes about two hours to get to in a vehicle. We are about 20 km east of the coast but it takes about two hours to get to the coast from VerdEnergia because of indirect and slow roads. VerdEnergia is located at one end of a lush valley, surrounded by steep hillsides.
We are remotely located and transportation on and off the farm must be arranged in advance. We recommend traveling to and from Verde in the morning, as there is less chance of severe rain storms in the morning that may affect the roads.
Please plan your visit so you do not need to leave VerdEnergia frequently, and if you do want to go to other places, be prepared to spend $15 - 50 per trip, depending on how many people to travel with to split the costs.
Climate And Natural Features
There is a dry season from December to April and a rainy season from May to November, during which rainfall is abundant.
During the Dry Season, it tends to be clear and sunny most days, but the occasional rainstorms that come can be hard rains. Humidity ranges from around 60 - 70%.
During Rainy Season, it is often clear and sunny in the morning with an afternoon hard rain shower, and then clears up for the night. The afternoon rain is often a welcome cooling of the midday heat. However, sometimes there are overnight rain storms, or all day, or even multi-day rain storms. Humidity ranges from around 70 - 90%.
In both seasons, it’s normal for early morning temperatures to be in the 70’s (F), climb into the mid 80’s during mid day, and back into the high 70’s for late afternoon and evening, and into the low 70’s and occasionally 60’s overnight.
Our community is diverse and welcomes anyone open-minded, hard-working, and interested in regenerative living.
Living in a community can be an empowering and educational experience. We live and work in close quarters with each other, share meals, living spaces, and responsibilities. It’s important to understand how to work as a team, communicate clearly and maturely, be respectful of differences, and take responsibility for yourself and your role within the community. Respect the personal space of others, clean up after yourself, ask permission first, and talk to people, not about them.
There is a mixture of gradual and steep slopes on most of the property, with the majority of buildings on the flatter areas. Most of the property is covered in forests with a very wide range of species. Because of previous generations logging this part of Costa Rica, our forest is not primary rainforest, but is about 30 - 60 years old. Many of our trees were planted by us in the last 13 years. It is a mix of regenerating native rainforest and agroforestry/permaculture intentional planting. There is a beautiful river on the edge of the project that we often swim in during the dry season. There is also a nearby spring that fills our pool. There is a main area of the property, with a shared kitchen with a view of the forests, and shared dining area. The buildings on the property are generally open air and use fans for cooling and airflow, rather than being closed off with air conditioning.
Accommodations And Food
We have comfortable, bright open air dormitories with mosquito nets, ceiling fans, and dry storage boxes. We also have private rooms that are located in shared structures.
The dorms are generally reserved for our interns and community participants, while our private rooms are reserved for guests, visitors, staff, and permaculture design course course participants who choose the private room option. There are places on the property open for camping in the dry season, for people who bring all of their own camping supplies and bedding. We do not recommend camping in the rainy season.
Our infrastructure is integrated with the surrounding natural environment, so staying at VerdEnergia is an immersive nature experience.
We provide three meals a day. We incorporate ingredients our farms as much as possible and locally source the rest. We are not a strictly vegan or vegetarian kitchen, though daily meals are mostly vegetarian with plenty of farm-fresh greens, fruits and veggies, and local eggs and dairy.
We are happy to accommodate different food needs and preferences as possible, such as vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free diets. You will be asked to communicate your food needs when you register to visit VerdEnergia or participate in a program.
While all of our staff members are fluent in English, many of our community members are primary Spanish-speakers, and many people we work closely with only speak Spanish. You will be okay if you have no experience with the language, but we recommend trying to learn at least a little Spanish before coming and highly prioritizing learning what you can while you are here. View your time here as a way to connect with a new culture and language - you’ll have a better time and expand your circle of friends if you make an effort.
What To Bring
If you are coming for the Internship or PDC, we provide a detailed list of items to bring. For everyone else we recommend bringing:
- Quick dry towel or sarong
- Sturdy shoes
The main concern is the humid jungle conditions, which can cause certain things to grow mold easily. Some tablets are likely to have higher humidity tolerance than laptop computers and less places where humidity can enter. You can look up humidity tolerances on the manufacturer’s or retailer’s websites. We recommend bringing a portable brown-out or low voltage protector to use when charging your devices. We are not responsible for any lost, stolen, or destroyed items.
Be advised that a lot of programs you may use on your computer and phone may not work well offline, but that there may be an option for an offline mode. You will usually need to engage the offline modes before you get to VerdEnergia, at a location with fast internet, to prepare for being offline or having limited internet.
It depends on your habits and what you want to buy. It is possible to bring barely any extra money at all and live comfortably. But if you want to buy snacks, alcohol, rides to town, visit the beach, and/or bus fare (as well as the recommended $300 cash for emergencies) you will want to bring extra to allow for that. Transportation to and from the farm can be cost $15 - 50 depending on how many people you ride with. Costa Rica can be expensive, especially if you want to buy specialty goods and visit tourist places like the beach. There are banks and ATMs in town that you can withdraw from in case you need more.
Money, Scholarships And Refunds
Since the value of the Costa Rican Colon (CRC) changes quite often, we use USD.
We offer scholarships to Costa Ricans or other residents of Central/South America who qualify. If this is you, we encourage you to contact us.
Please let us know as soon as possible. We will remove you from our roster and free up the space for someone else.
Unfortunately, we cannot refund deposits. Time is valuable for our teachers and instructors and it is absolutely necessary that they receive fair compensation for time taken from their schedules. Alternatively, you can send someone else in your place, or use the deposit as future credit for another course.
If you change your mind before 30 days before your course or internship start date, you can be refunded your cost, minus bank fees and your deposit. If your plans change within 30 days of the start date, we cannot refund you. If you have a medical or family emergency, please consult the medical and compassionate withdrawal policy below.
A medical or compassionate withdrawal request may be made in extraordinary cases in which serious illness or injury or another significant personal situation prevents a student or intern from completing their course or internship.
A student/intern may request and be considered for a medical withdrawal when extraordinary circumstances, such as a serious illness or injury prevent the student from continuing. The medical withdrawal policy covers both physical health and mental health difficulties.
A student/intern may request and be considered for a compassionate withdrawal when extraordinary personal reasons, not related to the student's personal physical or mental health (for example, care of a seriously ill child or spouse, or a death in the student's immediate family), prevent them from continuing.
In these cases, the student/intern must notify us. We may ask for documentation, depending on the situation. Cases are considered on an individual basis. If approved, the student/intern will receive a full refund of their course/internship, or of a prorated amount covering the uncompleted term.
We have various showers on the property. Currently they are cool water only, which people generally find refreshing in this climate.
For those with a menstrual cycle, we recommend bringing a DIVA/Moon cup with you to Costa Rica or bringing reusable pads. If you need to get a DIVA/Moon cup while in San Jose, LunaCup Costa Rica generally sells these at Feria Verde on Saturday morning. We don’t have a way to dispose of paper/plastic sanitary products like tampons or pads, so please do not bring them. If you do bring tampons or pads, be aware that you will be taking them with you when you leave.
VerdEnergia’s Focus Areas
Primarily, we are an agroecology and permaculture farm. VerdEnergia works in conjunction with its sister project, Blacksheep, to bring its products to market. We host a range of educational experiences, including internships, permaculture design courses, and community participation. We also host a variety of events, tours, and guests. Contact us if you are interested in hosting a group tour or event.
We are cultivating a food forest, with a huge variety of edible and non-edible herbs, greens, tubers, legumes, vines, fruit, nut, and lumber trees. VerdEnergia is one of the few permaculture farms in Costa Rica bringing its products to market on a large scale. We are just beginning to bring our products to market, but some of the crops we are and will produce for this include turmeric, sacha-inchi, cacao, and selectively-harvested hardwoods.
VerdEnergia does not focus on personal healing. We encourage people who need or want to focus on personal healing and emotional support to seek out one of the many other centers in Costa Rica that are equipped to offer support in those areas. NuMundo is a website that lists various centers in Latin America and describes their focus areas. VerdEnergia does have a focus on healing ecosystems that have been impacted by human mismanagement, through the use of agroecology and permaculture.
Daily Life And Community Living
Daily life is dynamic and largely dependent on the season. For interns and community participants, a typical day begins at 7 am with breakfast, and work begins at 8 am. Some choose to get chores done or work on personal projects in the cool hours before breakfast. Work may include farm and gardening activities, natural construction, fermentation, cooking, and/or community chores as needed. We break for lunch and usually have free time after lunch, and then another work session in the later afternoon. Dinner is at 6, and there is free time after dinner. Quiet hours begin at 9pm.
The daily schedule is different for permaculture design course students.
During time off many people enjoy cooling off in our river, pool, or waterfall. Other options include walking jungle trails and enjoying the views from one of our beautiful vistas or relaxing in a hammock with a good book from our community library. We often do yoga, dance, or play ping pong in our studio, make art, play music, or check out a local soccer game.
Our community is diverse and welcomes anyone open-minded, hard-working and interested in regenerative living.
Living in a community can be an empowering and educational experience. We live and work in close quarters with each other and share meals and responsibilities. It’s important to understand how to work as a team and communicate clearly and maturely. Community living requires being respectful of differences and taking responsibility of your role and impact within the community. All visitors to VerdEnergia must read and agree to the community living agreements.
We welcome and value diversity and people of all backgrounds.
Medical Precautions And Safety
Costa Rica does not require proof of vaccines from travelers coming from the U.S. or many other parts of the world. However, if you will be traveling to Costa Rica from South America and/or sub-Saharan Africa, you will need the yellow fever vaccine. See the Costa Rican embassy page for details.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control lists vaccines that they recommend.
This is something that you will have to gauge for yourself as only you know your own body. Please let us know if you have any health concerns, allergies, dietary needs, use medication, or have a condition that we should know about - like food allergies, sting allergies, seizures, etc.
Please be conscious that you will be in a humid climate and that cuts heal slowly, so there is a greater risk of infection. It takes about 1.5- 2 hours to get to a pharmacy or hospital from here, so take that into consideration, especially if you have a severe medical condition. We reserve the right to ask someone to leave if physical health issues present a risk to the community or we feel that the individual will be safer in a different location.
Please understand that VerdEnergia is not a rehab or mental health center. Our staff is not equipped to handle mental health issues suited for professional care. Living in a remote, small community like ours can be difficult for individuals with mental health challenges, and we do not have any mental health services onsite or in our local vicinity. We reserve the right to ask someone to leave if mental health issues interfere with the community or we feel that they will be safer in a different location.
Yes, but this is your responsibility. Please understand that not all pharmaceuticals are available or even legal in Costa Rica. Please plan accordingly.
Yes! We highly recommend Villa Loma Vista, our co-working space in Escazu. It is spacious, light-filled, comfortable, in a very comfortable climate, and has good wifi. It is less than 40 mins from the SJO International airport. We offer reasonable prices. Please inquire for details.
There are a few rivers and waterfalls nearby as well as peaceful jungle trails to explore. There’s a butterfly garden a few minutes down the road. The only store nearby is a pulperia, (a mini-convenience store) with minimal selection. There is also one local soda (a small restaurant). There are also ways to engage with the local community around soccer games and barbeques.
Generally, the surrounding towns are safe. But you should be mindful and accountable for yourself. If you are a guest in Costa Rica, make an effort to be extra respectful and aware of your surroundings.
We are blessed with an increasing variety of birds, mammals, insects, reptiles and amphibians. It is not uncommon to see pairs of scarlet macaws or toucans fly overhead, an armadillo rooting around at night, or catch a glimpse of a colorful poison dart frog. There are an abundance of butterflies, including the iconic Blue Morpho. We are in a wildlife corridor between two national parks, and as the forest grows each year, we welcome more creatures to the area.