Learning about Teak in Costa Rica

by Oriana 61 months ago
Watering the baby teak
A view of Costa Rican hillsides
A baby teak tree up close and personal
On-site at the teak farm, oxen help to clear the field of fallen trees prior to planting
Getting ready to replant the baby teak from the garden directly into the hillside: Photos by Oriana Fowler.

When I think of Nosara, Costa Rica.... beaches, sunshine, and jungle monkeys are some of the first thoughts that come to mind. So it was an interesting change of pace to drive inland just a bit and visit my first teak farm.

To get there, I drove south from Nosara, down the Guanacaste coast, over and through a river, and up a hill to reach the teak farm.

What is a teak farm? Well, there are no animals there! Teak is a species of tree that grows in tropical climates. It is highly valued for its quality and is used in fine furniture and construction. You can find teak at different levels of maturity dotting the hills in Guanacaste. It is intentionally planted (farmed) as both a form of reforestation as well as an investment, sustainably harvested for its wood.

Though it grows to be a tall tree, teak starts out as small plants that must be cared for in a garden. The saplings are watered and trimmed in the garden until they are big enough to be gently and intentionally replanted into the hilllside.

On this visit, I watched workers individually plant each tree by digging a hole with a shovel and placing the baby teak tree inside. They've got a rhythm to it and can get it done quite quickly. They measure exactly how far apart to plant the seedlings to ensure the best conditions for them to grow. Horses are used to help transport the plants. Everyone at the farm was really friendly, too.

Teak is a popular lumber choice because is relatively easy to grow, and its quite durable, very resistant to rot and decay, and the wood is a beautiful color.

The teak farm I visited was run by Vesteca, a company based in Nosara that offers options for investing in teak farms as a long-term, sustainable investment option. You can check them out at www.Vesteca.com.

And that's a little bit of what I saw and learned about teak!

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