Sustainable Landscape Design at the Casa de Arte

Authored by:
Karen Masters

Karen Masters

Written by Sadie Pickering (University of Redlands), Internship in Sustainability and the Environment.

During the month of October, my classmate Ellie Reed and I were given the task of designing and implementing a sustainable landscape design for the area around the Casa de Arte, a local business owned by Berta Lia. The intention behind the sustainable landscape design is that it will bring in community members and tourists alike to enjoy the area and potentially increase business at the Casa de arte. The use of native plants and the addition of proper drainage will not only set an example for future landscapers, but will attract native fauna and will be able to withstand heavy rain.

When I was presented the opportunity to work with Felipe Negrini, a Monteverde resident and landscape designer, I knew I had to take advantage. The idea of sustainable landscaping fit right into my personal and professional interests. I’m majoring in Sustainable Business, so the process of designing and implementing something sustainable for a local business was a great learning experience for me. My minor is Spatial Studies Analysis, so it was great practice to identify the issues, find answers, and implement solutions for the area. This internship really couldn’t be more fit for me. I loved getting to express my more creative side with artistic elements that matched that of the Casa de Arte. Not to mention, Felipe was great at inspiring practical ideas that went along with the theme of sustainability, another huge interest of mine.

The amount of knowledge and skills I acquired from this internship was beyond my expectations. Before jumping into specific design plans, Felipe made sure we knew the area in which we would be working in. We toured Monteverde and saw various uses of plants and landscapes, as well as the difference in flora at various elevations. We also read up on the history of the area in terms of land usage and human development, which further validated the need to use native plants at the Casa de Arte.

In terms of plants, we learned a lot. Felipe taught us about many of the native plants in the area, where they thrive, and their importance or use. We were also able to learn how to reproduce plants with cuttings, and how attach epiphytes to trees at ProNativas, a non-profit in the area that helps educate people on native plant use. Finally, we learned how to properly plant many of these in the ground, and got to be very hands-on and down-and-dirty, which was one of the highlights of the internship.

The list of things learned could really go on and on, but it is important to highlight the fact that we had to think practically, creatively, and sustainably to achieve the outcome that we did at the Casa de Arte.

The area looks like a completely different place, and that in itself is the greatest accomplishment.  The amount of work that Felipe, Ellie and I were able to accomplish in just four weeks is pretty outstanding. Our doings included invasive plant removal, the addition of a drainage, an archway, hundreds of plants, over 30 handmade stepping stones, a blue ceramic river, a gravel pathway, as well as area maintenance.


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