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Self-Sustaining Community Forges Ahead in Costa Rica

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Self-sustaining community forges ahead in Costa Rica My name is Sarah Kelly and my husband, Patrick, and I are the project managers of an up and coming sustainable community here in Costa Rica. We believe VERY strongly in what we are doing as well as everything that is discussed on your website. The fact of the matter is we need to get the word out about us and what we are doing in order to keep the project running and make a difference. I ask you please, for your help in any way to inform others about us. You can Contact: Majority Partner, Al Benner: 484-213-5345 albenner@fincalasbrisas.org Or Please contact me, Sarah Kelly, slkrica@gmail.com, 506-8379-6671 in Costa Rica, 413-888-2062 in the USA. Please read about what we are doing and look at our website for more information, www.fincalasbrisas.org. Thank you!

Release Date: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ONE DEVELOPER IS STILL THRIVING… Creating a self-sustaining residential community in Costa Rica


While other builders and developers skip town or close their doors in Costa Rica, the owners of Finca Las Brisas [www.FincaLasBrisas.org] - a self-sustaining residential community in the mountains overlooking the Pacific coastal town of Samara, announce the ground-breaking for the project’s community center, which will begin to take shape in February. Unlike conventional “ground-breaking” activities where a gold plated shovel might be used, the partners of the project decided at the prompting of Project Manager, Patrick Kelly, to make level the nearby school soccer field and in doing so utilize the extra soil for repairing erosion problems (from years of cattle grazing) on the 150 acre finca (farm). Additional stock piles of the red earthen clay are also being staged near the soon to be erected community center for use in earth bags and earthen plaster (greatly reducing the need for concrete). Not only are these “developers” improving a soccer field (and the public road for that matter), but they have also recently hired an additional local employee with a young son who was needed to keep the small one room school open. Since the farm was purchased two and one half years ago, a lot of “cross-pollination” of Tico and Gringo culture has occurred, including fiestas where Ticos that work on the farm full time return in the evenings for meals, singing and guitar playing with the partners, friends and community members. One fiesta was attended by over 150 people and raised several hundred dollars for the school. The partners employ local workers who ride horseback to work, and are also purchasing locally growing palm thatch, teak, and fallen or dead hardwood logs for construction from surrounding neighbors. A nearby collaborative organic farmer’s market is also planned to support the local economy and provide additional food

for finca community members. The company’s work vehicle is even running on re-claimed cooking oil or from pressing the fruit of local wild oil palms (more revenue for local farmers). Finca Las Brisas is a self-guided community with no agenda aside from preserving the land and integrating with the local community. Members will share more than 150 acres of unspoiled forests, a Pacific Ocean view, year-round rivers with numerous waterfalls, orchards, a vegetable farm, along with a shared community center, trails, and other facilities. The landowner’s charter establishes an eco-community combining co-housing (single family homes/shared resources) and sustainable development. According to Al Benner, majority partner, Finca Las Brisas is a place where environmentally conscious people can not only own property, but also live and vacation in harmony with nature. “Our model is to integrate, rather than ‘gate,’” he explains. “By its very design, Finca Las Brisas eschews the typical model of a planned community, and seeks to seamlessly incorporate every facet of the project with the surrounding population and land.” Benner and his partners have self-funded the development, avoiding potential issues with real estate loans. All 150 acres are paid for in full, and ten of the 24 lots have been sold for both seasonal and year-round residency. The new community center is being funded from lot sales. Internal access roads, water lines, trails, vegetable gardens, coffee and fruit orchard plantings are complete, and a supply of pure, solar-pumped well water is currently available. Gardens and fruit trees planted in common areas will provide fruits and vegetables for the residents, separate from the farmed areas. Over 100 acres of the river corridor is designated as a no-build zone, protecting the environment, and the investment of each owner. “The success we have experienced to date demonstrates the viability of the Costa Rican market, even in a challenging global economic climate,” says Benner. “For buyers who are also looking to simplify, de-stress, or reduce living costs, our project makes perfect sense.” Slated for completion in 2010, the development, its community gathering places and all of its low impact homes will rely on self-supporting energy, farming and community connections with local people, resources and sustainable construction materials. “Our team is creating a sustainable economic model by, for example, hiring local workers for professional site maintenance and construction needs, designing and building an infrastructure to support fully sustainable energy and locally produced food, and establishing a farmers' market and bi-lingual school just outside the development,” says Benner. “Crops are being harvested from the property this season for local restaurants, and the fruit trees planted in 2007 will begin to produce soon—just in time for the second wave of lot owners to enjoy from the decks of their new villas.” The development’s second phase features construction of a community center, built as a rancho with 360 degree views, and a caretaker’s villa. All construction materials are in line with true eco-building, incorporating “earth bags”—recycled banana bags filled with a special mixture of sand and clay soil obtained on site, stacked on top of one another and finished with earthen plaster to help complete the main structure. The open-air floor plan will include indoor and outdoor areas to gather, dine and enjoy the dramatic views, sunsets and the continual morning and evening breezes. Guest quarters and a community kitchen for all landowners to use while their homes are being built are incorporated into the design, as is an infinity pool. The entire facility will be powered by solar and wind power and supported by a plant-based waste water management system. “Finca Las Brisas is a sea-change model for future eco-developments worldwide because of its combined social, environmental and economic sustainability,” says Benner. “We are committed to doing the right thing by the land, the people of Costa Rica, and those who will own part of this rich and beautiful setting.” A full time site manager, Patrick Kelly is available for tours of the property and falls. A rental house at nearby Playa Carrillo is also available through March for use by the press. For more information, visit www.FincaLasBrisas.org or call 484.213.5345


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