LANAS DE PURISCAL, Costa Rica—Jessica Slevin pushes a wheelbarrow full of farming equipment along a muddy jungle trail. She is on her way to planting her first banana sapling.
“I’ve spent so much time digging things up, it feels good to finally put something back into the ground,” says Slevin, a conservation science major at Northeastern.
Slevin is among a half-dozen Northeastern students doing co-ops at a farm nestled in the mountainous rainforest 25 miles southwest of the capital, San Jose. The former pig farm and cattle ranch was bought in 2006 by Joshua Hughes and a small group of investors. Together, they transformed the nearly barren landscape into VerdEnergia Pacifica—a regenerative agroforestry project and eco-education center. A native of Oregon and the son of a mechanic, Hughes founded VerdEnergia with the hopes of starting a biodiesel operation. The goals of the organization have since evolved, but the core mission of reforestation and sustainable living have remained unchanged.