Huertas Urbanas

Overview 

Tasked to explore how we might redesign public space in San Jose to become more community-centered, Huertas Urbanas is a concept to encourage the development of urban farms by and for local communities in the city of San Jose, Costa Rica.

Context

Costa Rica has been facing a number of food safety issues. Since the introduction of American fast-food chains in the early 1980s, the obesity rate has increased by almost four times. As the nation’s attitude to food changes, there has been more awareness of food safety and sourcing in recent years with Costa Rica spearheading the UN World Food Safety Day initiative in 2018. 

Costa Rica’s rich soil and moderate climate make it easy to grow produce and plants. Inspired by the vibrant greenery in San Jose where fruit trees and herbs are ubiquitous all over the city, the team explored having edible plants systematically available to the community.

Research 

The team identified current challenges and opportunities through speaking to local community members (public gardener, residents) and subject matter experts (urban activation strategist, agriculture engineer). The project explored how the initiative could be initiated in the first place and be sustainable in the long run. The team considered initial partnerships with community groups such as students or youth groups to kick start the program. In order to ensure the program is sustainable, the team explored hosting workshops on composting, produce harvesting, and recipe sharing, as well as developing a digital application to guide the community on the harvesting process. 

With Huertas Urbanas, the team wished to:

  • Encourage healthier diets and provide the community with an additional source of low-cost produce
  • Create a compost-growing system within the community 
  • Provide urban dwellers a better appreciation of how food system works
  • Provide potential green infrastructure for managing excessive stormwater runoff