Principal, San Francisco de Chachagua School
San Francisco de Penas Blancas, Costa Rica
Grand Circle Foundation has partnered with the San Francisco Chachagua School to create a sustainable microfarm that not only feeds 184 students breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even dinner, but it also impacts the entire community with its surplus food supply and lifelong lessons in sustainable agriculture. As the principal of the school for 21 years, Eulin Chacon has been a leader in making the microfarm a success.
Foundation: Tell us a little bit about your background and how you chose a career in education.
Eulin: I grew up in Ciudad Quesada, San Carlos. I always liked children and used to play teacher at home with my friends when I was a child. I studied education in both undergraduate and graduate school and hold three master’s degrees in the field.
Foundation: What makes the San Francisco de Chachagua School special?
Eulin: The school is special because it has a farm that allows children to learn in a practical and creative way all the contents of basic subjects, but it also helps them to be educated for life. It has been successful due to the support of parents who have a sense of belonging that has allowed them to take care of it and also helps their children to have a better education.
Foundation: What is the microfarm?
Eulin: The microfarm is a piece of heaven. It is an open classroom where children learn about food security, climate change, and formal educational experiences, coupled with an environment full of recreational activities. It has all kinds of crops—yucca, papaya, and banana, among others—all sown in geometric figures that allow children to sow and harvest, but also learn. It also has several types of animals: cows, quails, and chickens. We have a greenhouse and an aquaponic system where we harvest water, and we also have tilapia. All waste is reused in compost and vermicompost, and a sensory path helps children learn about medicinal plants.
The purpose of the microfarm is to offer a different kind of education to future generations of this country—helping them to be leaders and owners of their own businesses, and empowering them to be agents of change.
Foundation: What is the impact of the microfarm on the community as a whole?
Eulin: It has been a transformative relationship, since the community has benefited from learning environmentally friendly practices, improving their quality of life and income, and teaching them about family farming and food security. The farm has also taught them that they need to be more involved in their children’s education, but at the same time, they have been part of the change in school education by helping and collaborating throughout the project.
Foundation: What was Grand Circle Foundation’s role in creating the microfarm?
Eulin: It was Grand Circle Foundation that allowed us to make our dream come true, giving the economic input to achieve the microfarm and obtain the resources to maintain it and make it sustainable.
Grand Circle Foundation has also provided funding for primary and preschool classrooms, classrooms for children with disabilities, foreign language teachers, a solar-panel system, fencing, desks, computers and air conditioning for the computer lab, new lighting, and preventive maintenance for the school. I am grateful to Grand Circle for all that they have given me, to make my dream as a teacher come true. I could never have achieved it without them. They have trusted me, and I will be forever grateful.
Foundation: What’s your vision for the future of your school?
Eulin: My vision is to see it become a laboratory school, with a different schedule that allows us to make more innovations. And I would like to work with Grand Circle to replicate this school in other destinations where they take their travelers.
Foundation: What do you do when you’re not working?
Eulin: I like to exercise and travel, and experience other models of education.
Tell us a little about yourself. Which do you prefer?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Reading a book or seeing a movie?
Reading a book
Going for a hike or sitting by a fire?
Going for a hike
Talking or listening?
Dogs or cats?
Being interviewed or having a tooth pulled?