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Jennifer Smith of Community Carbon Trees: Restoring Rainforests in Costa Rica

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Why are trees important? How does planting a tree make a difference in the lives of people around the world?

Learn the answers to those questions and know more about the difference Community Carbon Trees is making in restoring rainforests and providing livelihood to the men and women of Costa Rica through Community Carbon Trees' founder, Jennifer Smith.

From a young girl who loves trees to founding an amazing nonprofit organization that could plant more than 556,000 trees and many more through their different restoration projects, Jenny and her crew are doing everything they can to find solutions to deforestation. You can help, too, by sponsoring a tree here.

Social Media Profiles:

Podcast Questions:

  • Tell me a little about your background?
  • You have been in Costa Rica since 2000—what took you there?
  • How has it changed?
  • How did you get the idea for Community Carbon Trees?
  • Why trees? Why are they important?
  • If somebody wants to sponsor a tree, what's the process?
  • Is sustainable building a thing? Are developers putting aside parts of land for conservation?
  • How does planting a tree make a difference?

Location: Costa Rica

Transcripts

Jennifer Smith, welcome to Saltwater High. Hello?

Thank you, Derek. Hello. Hola.

Hola. Cómo estás?

Pura vida. Very well.

Pura vida. Very Cool. So just so our listeners know—you're in Costa Rica, and I'm in California. So if we have any lagging or something comes up, just be patient, please, with us, you listener. And, yeah, I'm so excited to talk to you. I have a long love history with Costa Rica, and so it's good to know here. But tell me a little bit about yourself.

Well, I also have a long love history with Costa Rica. And it started when I was in college and I'm from Louisiana, and I had a boyfriend who was a surfer and lived in Florida. And he consistently just told me, "Oh, my gosh, you're such a crazy lady. You love trees so much. You've got to go to Costa Rica. You got to go. You got to go both for the surf and the trees." And life went on. I became a lawyer. I practiced law in Lafayette, Louisiana for almost 8 years. Didn't really love doing that. And I was very young and naive. I think I was 22 years old, 21 years old when I started law school. I was really a baby. And so when I became really just very dissatisfied with my work life, I always remembered that guy and my law firm offered to pay for a vacation. So I came to Costa Rica, and little did I know my destiny would have it that I was offered a job while I was here on vacation, working with the nature conservancy and local communities, educating about the importance of holding what rainforest was left intact as biological corridors. And my job was to liaison between, let's say, the Costa Ricans doing natural education in the communities and the big nonprofit. And so I went from a really prosperous, high-paying job to basically working for free. Basically, in many ways, still do. But the idea of moving to Costa Rica and trying something else out was just something I couldn't turn down. So I accepted the job, quit my life in Louisiana, basically sold, gave away everything I own, came down here with a little puppy, blue healer, and a backpack. And that was over 22 years ago. So here I sit in the strangest time of probably all of our lives and I haven't left Costa Rica, probably what, 18 months now, I haven't seen my family. Really got challenged a couple times during my life here and each time I recommitted to this love affair with Costa Rica and just continue to just love living here, even through the challenges, even through feeling somewhat stuck here, even as we talk on my slow 3G internet right now because my WiFi is down. There's just been a lot of challenges. But Costa Rica has always, always just held some piece of my soul. And how do any of us end up anywhere? I don't know, but I'm glad I ended up here.

That's such a great story. So just going back a bit, that original organization that offered you the job, what kind of organization was it? A Costa Rican organization? A worldwide conservancy? Yeah. What was that?

It is called ASANA, which stands for Association de Amigos de la Naturaleza. And it was a very small conservation group that had received a grant to educate about biological corridors. And I spoke Spanish. Went to a private school in Louisiana. As a blessing, I learned Spanish from maybe 10 years old. So I was truly fluent. And I always loved speaking in Spanish. So I actually practiced speaking in Spanish while I was a lawyer because I did my pro bono work with the Catholic Diocese in Lafayette because there's a lot of foreigners and they would get in an accident. It would be like, okay, they need representation. And so I would help a lot of those folks that English was not their first language as my volunteer work. It was just another little piece of the puzzle of how I ended up here that I was already fluent, both written and spoken. So of course, I had to practice and so much to learn and the local accents and the local slang and all of that challenge of living in another language. So the small, small conservation group basically said, "You can live here. We'll feed you. You're going to meet all the big dogs in the country and you're going to have great mentorship." And that's exactly true. I did stay with that organization for about really in total about 6 or 7 years. And I ended up serving as President of that organization. All of that was volunteer. So while I was doing this volunteer work, I started a tree-planting business. And that's how the tree thing started because I was in these communities, and I felt really bad because there I am, that whole idea of colonialism and the white lady. This is a hot topic now. At least it was last year, right? But intersectional environmentalism, that's something I've been into from the very beginning, and I could feel it being in a community, basically helping that process of that teaching aspect in seeing how just closed off the people were. They didn't want any part of it. They were angry that this, not our little group, but the bigger group funding us, kind of giving us the talking points. The people were not receptive.

Yeah.

They consistently would come up to me because I wasn't the power person, right? I'm friendly and young and come up to me and basically complain and say, "How do they expect us not to cut trees down when I need to go cut that tree down to basically get a little bit of money to help my family survive." And I heard that story countless times, and nobody else seemed to hear that story. But I heard it so loud and clear. And I also had a bit of arrogance looking at the same people and saying to them, "Well, why don't you go plant trees? Why don't you repair your land? The cows are skinny. You're not making any money off the cattle farming. Why don't you do something about that and do something different?" And it just showed how naive I was and how I didn't understand the real root cause of the deforestation, of why people cut trees down, and the root cause of why nobody and nobody was planting trees. And it took me a couple of years to put all the pieces together. And probably I'd say, in 2001 again, destiny just struck. And some foreigners, basically, at the place I was living, where the conservation group was, came into that office and they wanted to do a reforestation project, and I didn't have anybody to refer them to. And you're standing there kind of like, "Wow, you're amazing. You want to pay to plant trees. I don't know who to call." And I did find a local agri forester. And at that time, it was very disappointing. He only wanted to plant non-native teak, which is really hard on the soil, doesn't get any food for animals. It was just so lumber-oriented, and that didn't satisfy me either. And it didn't satisfy them because they wanted to bring wildlife back. And they were very committed to the wildlife. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Yes.

I just looked at those guys and I said, "Strangely enough, I've grown up on a farm in Louisiana where my dad has grown trees his whole life." It wasn't his first job. It was basically as part and parcel of being connected with nature because they hunted and they fished. So a lot of people who hunt and fish, they know where their food is coming from. And so my dad, on our land always walked with me and help me see the matrix and the forest dynamics and what animals were eating, when we could see that the deer population was having problems because they were moving to other foods that weren't their primary foods. So I had that whole knowledge inside me. And I had a green thumb. I always worked in our gardens. And I just looked at these guys and said, "If you give me a year, I can do this. I'm going to produce the kind of trees we want to plant. And I just need some time. And if you'll trust me, I know that I'm going to give it everything I have. And if you help me fund producing some of these special trees that we want, with a deposit, let's do it." And they said, "Yes." And those first clients we're just golden and we're still friends. They still own that land. In total, me and my crew, we planted over 24,000 trees for them alone.

Wow.

And it created so many jobs and all the makeup follow-up, care of the baby trees. They need so much labor. So I was creating jobs, and I just saw the whole thing, just knew this was what I was born to do and that I would do it at any personal cost.

That's such a beautiful story. And a lot of people listening to this podcast probably are in cities or they're city dwellers. And why are trees important? Let's just get it out of the way. What is it about a tree that is important to even introduce back into the planet?

Wow. We play a game with our kids' groups and with tourists who come. And it's called the "50 Reasons We Love Trees." I'll give you the top 3. I won't burden you with 50, but that's a very fun chat with groups and students and schools. It's so much fun to try to get to the 50 reasons. So maybe someone out there is like, "I'm going to think of 50 reasons." Well, good luck. Let me know how that goes. But number 1. And let me preface the 3 reasons with something really important, which I think is lost on people. It's just because why would you know if someone like me didn't explain it. Equator trees, trees in the tropical zone within 10 degrees of the equator, their benefits are compounded. So whatever trees anywhere else on the planet, they're all giving a lot of the same things. But when you look at the ones near the equator, it's compounded to who knows how many degrees? So for me, number 1, oxygen. We're breathing everything they give us, oxygen. And, yes, plankton give us oxygen and other plants, grasses give us oxygen, but trees are really the big producer, especially near the equator, because they grow so fast and they really deposit their oxygen into the currents that wrap around our planet. So that oxygen moves around through the equator currents both in the air and through the ocean. So oxygen and the polarity planet, right? Carbon dioxide. So they're sucking in our pollution that we're spitting out, whether it be from us, humans, animals, trains, planes, automobiles, factories. Just about everything is spitting out carbon dioxide. And carbon is a building block of life. It's not bad. It's just we've got a lot of excess carbon out there. So trees suck in that carbon and clean the air and give us our oxygen. And through that process, for me, the number 3 top, top reason is they regulate the rain cycle. You cut all the trees down, there goes your rain. Well, if you don't have predictable rain, you don't have food. You don't have water. I have lived down here without electricity. You cannot live without water. I worked in Kenya. I know what it feels like to live and be in a place that is riddled by drought and to sit with people who are sick inside because they cut down all their trees. And now it's not raining anymore, and they're in trouble. So the trees are what recycle the water vapor. And they basically make cumulus clouds. And those cumulus clouds are what give us our rain. And that process on the equator is actually even more important because, on the equator, they're working on a global level because they're sending those cumulus clouds into those thermohaline equator currents. And those cool clouds can freeze and they can get all the way up to California where you are. So the drought is beginning somewhere else. Yes, California has a problem. Lots of places have a problem. And yes, planting trees in your local community will help the local ecosystem. But if you're still not getting big, fat, frozen cumulus clouds dropping the rain in a balanced way, then it's both aspects. We need the local and we need the global. And I think people forget about the global. They don't even realize that the rain might be coming from the what do we call it, the rainforest.

That's where trees are.

That's what's truly making the bulk of those cumulus clouds. And that's why they call it the rainforest. It wasn't just thrown out there. We get over 3000 mm of rain per year, annual. That's a lot of water to recycle. So if our equator is deforested any further than it already is, that's something we really have to be cognizant of. And we have to respect that it takes a while for a tree to grow. So this isn't something we can fix overnight.

Kindly go to through the process if somebody were to sponsor or donate to get a tree grown. What's involved in that besides putting it in the ground, right? It's not just a one and done. It seems like it's something that takes years of care. Yeah, I'm just wondering about that.

Thank you for understanding that. It starts with the seed. Everything does. And so that seed collection process for us to be able to have the biodiversity like this original client showed me was so very important. So we offer anywhere from 150 or so species somewhere around there, over 16 or 17 species that are on the threatened list. So the seed collection is constant. We get a lot of people involved in that. We don't buy seeds, we actually collect them. And that's a way that we can get our community involved and participate and even do some ecotourism with that. It's so much fun to go seed collecting. It's a treasure hunt and it's very wonderous to walk in the forest or even on the side of the road. I break for seeds all the time, climbing some trees somewhere. And they're like, "There's Jenny.: But it's a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun. So the seed collection. And then we have a really wonderful women's group that's been in existence for about 8 years now, and they make all of our compost soil that's necessary for filling the bags that we grow the trees in. And so that's a way that we can put money into the hands of women as well. So they make all the compost and then filling the bags and the work. And the tree nurseries is hugely everything. We have 3 tree nurseries and 3 different communities. They are employing, I guess, 8 people, maybe more than that now. One or 2 people come in and out. And those are a lot of women that are working in this tree nurseries and some older people, too. We like to have something for everyone. And then we have a crews of workers. We've probably got 25 or 26 something in that range right now of men in and out of those crews. And they prepare the land, transport the trees, plant the trees, which is a lot of land preparation because we're planting in either very dense, aggressive cattle pasture or regenerating secondary thickets and brush. And it's thorny and itchy and waspy and dangerous, snakes, and it's a very aggressive environment when we start. So that's sort of the labor that gets the tree in the ground. But the other part we do is we work with the owner of the farm. We don't buy any land. We don't use any donation money for purchasing land. We collaborate with local Costa Rican farmers who are interested in regenerating their farm. They're not making money anymore from cattle. Their land is dead. Maybe their water has already dried up because there were streams and they were overly deforested. So we've got right now, 73 participating family farms in 3 different communities. And so that farm owner, there's quite a few walk abouts with him. He participates. He, his family, his kids, whoever in that family participates in choosing the species. And they used to come to us and only want some lumber trees. But that's changed now. Now we see the paradigm change. They come now and they want the fruits, they want to cover their water. Word is out, oh, this is amazing. And now we're making money selling our fruits or call in, my land came back, and it's amazing how having those farm owners involved is how we do the education and how the neighbors begin to connect with each other. And we really are establishing a community. So there's quite a bit of work with that right now. I do that work. I still don't have another person doing that work. I don't get a big salary. I'm making money on tico wages, just like anybody else in our crews. So sometimes it's hard for me to hire maybe a more mid-level person because they want to make way better money than we're paying for that mid-level person. So scaling right now. We're seeing potentials for scaling. And I'm having some people like, "Why are your trees $25? All the trees in Europe are €3.50, €3 and 50." And I'm like, "Well, let's get into what they do for that and what they don't do because we do so much more work and for us to scale." And they're like, "Well, you should be able to do it cheaper because it's an economy of scale." And I go, "Well, no, because it's actually more work." And as we keep getting bigger, I see that I'm going to have to hire this mid-level person and they're not going to do it for $600 a month. So, we're in that very wonderful moment of finding how we're going to bring someone from within the organization and train them. And I feel that it will all work out. But certainly the work isn't less because of more trees, more trees means more work and more administration. We're really proud that we really I don't know what the percentage is. I do have a chart. It's somewhere around 3% that we spend on an admin. So it's practically nothing, right? Again, we've got a very lean green machine. That is what I set up to be simple and to self-administrate and to have local community leaders. I'm not running around all the time. They need to see me. I need to cheerlead them. But the idea is to empower the community and change the poverty, both financial but also the land poverty of dead land change that from within, from the ground up and really give power and accountability to the leaders in these communities. So really, the law degree helped me a lot design the model because I could see far into the future and anticipate a lot of problems. And of course, you're always failing, which is good. You want to fail before something goes too big. Yeah. And learn those lessons. So we just turned 12 years old, Community Carbon Trees. So we've learned some lessons. And so we are in that teetering explosion moment. And I think we're making some headway into helping people understand you can't do this for $3.50. It's impossible. Our tree is worth $3. How am I going to do all that other stuff? And we haven't even talked about the management yet. So for our trees, we have to go back and chop the grass, the cattle grass or the secondary regenerating vegetation. We have to chop at least 3 times the first 2 years, the first 2 rainy seasons, which means all those people get paid, right? All those workers, there's 26 guys, they get paid their insurance, all of it and their transport. So every tree receives it's 4 years of active in the field—machete, hard work, labor. And then when they reach 4 years old, they're basically out of danger in terms of mortality, but they still need a really good pruning. And so around 6 years, we do break out the chainsaws and prune the lower branches and open up any of the secondary, because we're also managing the regenerating forests, which is critical.

The ground around the plant where you plant it?

Yeah. And all the plants that were there dormant. Before, it was so hot and sunny and those cattle grasses are GMOed. They won't let anything else grow. But as the tree gets bigger, then other dormant seeds, because the ground temperatures have cooled off, begin to sprout. So we start getting all kinds of things come up, and sometimes those will compete with the trees. So we have to consistently manage around the tree and the secondary. But we leave the secondary. That's what makes our projects feel so natural. And it looks like a forest. It smells like one, sounds like one. It is one. These aren't tree plantations. We're going for growing a new forest. So all of that maintenance and that pruning at year 6 is critical that the trees continue to get taller, that we let in some light. We take off those lower branches so the tree will increase in girth or in diameter. And that's where all your carbon dioxide is. The bigger the tree grows, the faster it grows and the harder, the denser that particular wood, whatever it may be, or if it's a fruit, that determines how much carbon it's sucking in. And we calculate that. So that pruning is important and it's quite expensive, but it's critical because if we don't do it, then the trees stunt. They'll reach about 6 or 7 years and they'll stop growing because there's no more light coming in, and then eventually they'll get sick, they'll get moldy, and they'll die. I've seen other projects where people did not maintain and they're thin, scraggly, not robust. It doesn't feel anything like what we're doing. So experience has shown me what has to be done. And I'd rather know that every tree I plant is, I say I, we, we are definitely a "we", we plant is guaranteed. We replace any tree that dies in those first 4 years, we'll replace it. And then we have constant contacts through the way the model is set up with the local community, the local community leaders, the local nursery, the locals women's group. So if somebody started, if somebody went and cut some trees down or something, believe me, those people activate. They know. And it's beautiful to watch how they've become tree defenders. And we do guarantee the trees for 25 years at a minimum. And the Costa Rican law does protect what we're planting because we're not planting plantations or lumber monoculture. So they do have protection. But to me, the best protection is a community who are teaching their children and showing their children. We're making money off this, like Mama came home with money today. Daddy came home with money. Those kids see that. And they know it comes from the trees.

Absolutely. That's amazing.

The future, I think of the forest we're planting is insured greatly by the local community governance. And, yes, we have contracts with the family. And they're very simple. But to me again, and having lived in Latin America now for 22 years, what does a piece of paper value down here when it's just a joke, right? It's a joke to think you're going to go and force a contract in many cases. It's way more trustworthy to have humans on the ground who don't need to cut those trees down because they have money.

Yeah. Or they see that it's an important part of their community, and they're getting money from the food and they have jobs. You're not just planting trees. You're providing a whole lifestyle for people, which is really it's not the bigger picture, but in many ways, it is the bigger picture, right? It's a tree. But it's so much more than a tree. I was kind of doing the math. Six years you pay $25, you get to support this community. It's like $5. You're getting all that for $5 a year. It's kind of ridiculous when you think about it, it's super cheap. I don't know. You can't compare it to Europe either, because a lot of those European projects probably are really heavily funded, right? Through European brands.

Heavily funded. So many big, big tree people who started after us and consulted with me even, they've got the wording down. But I'm still waiting to see their forest, right? It's like show me your forest. Don't tell me how many trees you planted. How many jobs did you create? How many mindsets did you change? How many children did you inspire? How many humans are feeling really happy about their sponsorship? Yeah, you got a slick website with an app. I'm not impressed. Really not. And I feel like my voice with these other huge groups I've been included in just about every larger round table, especially the last 3 or 4 years. I have definitely become the spokesperson for fair pay. We have no laws protecting tree planters. Zero. They're doing it for free. And because trees are so positive, people are getting away with that. Nobody's even asking the question. And it's time that tree planting be a real sustainable livelihood. This is such a beautiful job to have. Why aren't we paying people to do it?

Absolutely. And on the other side of it, obviously, you've been in Costa Rica and you've seen 21 years of change. And also I was in Costa Rica, actually, early 90s, my first time. And so it's a whole different place now. There are parts of Costa Rica that are like Orange County in California now, right? Is sustainable building a thing? Are developers putting aside parts of land for conservation? Cause I think there's another side of the Costa Rican lifestyle that goes against many of the things that we're talking about. So I just wonder, how do you reconcile some of that?

You've hit such an important point, Derek. And I have seen the trajectory of the different waves of development here. And way back in the day, I used to sue people for doing irresponsible developments. And while I was at a sauna and really made some fairly large enemies, which told me I was doing a good job. It got very dangerous for my physical person and deep, deep burnout and fear because I was shutting down some really gnarly, just tractors, just plowing it down and making ocean view lots. And somebody comes in and buys a farm from a Costa Rican, unsophisticated man with a dead piece of land, cattle pasture. That's one thing. But what happened was a lot of people started buying pieces of forest instead of cattle pasture and way laying that down. And there was no control and no permit process, no impact study, no control at all. And so I was exactly where I needed to be. And I did what had to be done at that point in my life. I was in my 30s. So I think I was 28 when I moved here. Yeah, I'm 52 now. So I was 28 or so. So I was in my 30s. I knew enough by then to know this could not stand. That was the first wave of big development. I'm in the Southern zone that used to be almost unreachable, like, nobody was here when I came. There were no Gringos here. I was like, "Wow, all these people are showing up and they're buying up all the land." And that was before I had started the nonprofit, the Community Carbon Trees. That's when I was just working for some of the private people that showed up. And that was kind of how I supported myself was doing this private tree planting jobs. And as I kept getting clues that this was becoming a huge problem, the development, yeah, I had to sit with that and decide. And so I did go after it. And then when it got dangerous, I backed away because I wanted to live. They've killed so many conservationists, especially in Latin America, and most of them women. I had death threats. My tire rolled off my truck once, and the lug nuts had been stripped. And my partner at the time was like, "Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. You've got to resign." He was from Argentina. And he was like, "They'll kill you, Jenny. They will kill you." And it was just really a wake up call. So that wake up call led me to understand, I can't fight about this development. I need to do something positive. Let's plant trees. Let's quit fighting about cutting them down. So I was pretty burned out at that point. And actually, that was when Community Carbon Trees came to me. I thought, "Well, I can't just be doing this with the rich foreigners coming here. I need to be doing this on land owned by Costa Ricans. We need to find a way that they don't sell their land." And again, what is the root? The root is poverty. It's poverty and unsophistication. They're not ignorant. They're incredibly wise, intelligent people. They're just not savvy. They think 100 grand was like, because 100 grand is like a million Colones, like the number sounded big, million. Wow. Back in the day. So it really all went hand in hand. And then that wave stopped because of that fall out. What was that? The crisis of 2008. The Sallie Mae deal, whatever that was. That fallout happened and a lot of developers lost their shirts. They had bought the land here with their second mortgage in the States. It really had an effect here. All those second mortgages that probably should not have been given, but were. And that whole first wave sort of left. And in the midst of that wave leaving, we also activated the permit system. I got in touch with people in San Jose, the conservation group I was working with, the director at that time. I was President of the board of directors, but they had a director with a salary and we got the right people in and brought in what is now the permit process that is really working it now. I'd say we have our third wave now, since I've been here these 20 something years. And now, you can't build a house unless you can get the water stamp. They're not letting people willy nilly drill a well, just because they found a guy who said he'd do it or you can't build a 60 lot, so called, I love when they call it an "eco village". I'm like, "There ain't nothing "eco" about this." Nothing. This is money, money, money, money, money. This is money. This is not eco. And yes, sometimes the developments are putting forest in reserve and they're reforesting and they're going lower impact and they're doing good things for the local community and they're creating jobs. So, yes, there are some really positive stories and examples, but again, they're all making lots of money. So don't let the name fool you. I live next door to one of those and they waylaid forests, even though the guy swore he wasn't going to do it. And blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm so over what people say, because often it hasn't revealed itself to be the truth. Having said that to end on a positive note about your question, yeah, things are much better. The permit process is much, much better. The bribery isn't quite as rampant. There's a lot of people who bought land a long time ago and sat on it. And now they're trying to build houses. And I've been hired, probably by 3 people, for sure, 3 different people who cannot build on their land because there is no water there. They bought it before the laws were in place. I knew this was going to happen. I said, 15 years ago, the social ramifications of the lack of environmental impact statements, they're going to rear their ugly head. And some people are going to lose. And it used to just be do what you want, pay your fine, bribe someone, do what you want. It's not like that anymore. And I'm thrilled. I'm thrilled it's not like that anymore. It's a good thing that we have gotten on top of the uncontrolled development. Can you still get around things? Of course, you can. Money talks and people, there's corruption at every level of everything.

In every place.

Every place, right. Money is not bad. I have a great relationship with money. It's not the money. Money is not the root of all evil. It's greedy people that are the root of the evil. Money can be amazing. Money is a wonderful tool. When is enough, enough, though. And what are we giving back to Mother Earth for the ways we get our money? I think there's so many good people on the planet who are looking for us, right? Looking for a way to give back, a way to feel "tranquila"—calm and serene and kind of like, "Okay, I'm doing well in life. I want to give Mother Earth something. But who do I trust? And how do I do it?" And I think there's a lot of good, good people who want to do development in the right way down here. And I'm so happy to say that most of them find me at a certain point and hire me. And I go do a consulting and hook them up with the right people to go get their permits. I don't do all that permit stuff. That's not my job. Certainly being the bridge between okay, this is where you are, this is what your land is like. Okay. These zones are perfectly good for developing. No, don't put the road there. No, you can't build that bridge there. No, you can't put the house on top of the river. No, this is too steep. No, you can't have 60 houses here. So it's encouraging. I'm encouraged.

Well, that's good because you've seen so many changes. So if you're encouraged that says a lot, I would say.

I'm encouraged. Now, I was in the bank the other day, and there were some big, loud people in there that were new. And I just looked over there, and I had this feeling inside myself. We know those of us who've stayed a while, there's a honeymoon in Costa Rica. And it's about 3 years, and a lot of people don't make it past the 2 to 3-year mark. They come here with all their programming and all their lack of patience and needs for amenities and ease and these things. And they've got this idea of what it's going to be, and it results much more difficult than they ever dreamed. And this place has a home rule. And you got to be tough to get through that gauntlet—that 3-year period. And we are seeing so much turnover with the COVID situation. It's a turn style down here, and I don't know what our community is going to look like in the future, but I will say the dug in community, it's a good one. They're very simple. People who are looking for a different way of life and a more connected to nature, connected to their children, connected with their neighbors, not consumeristic. There's nothing to buy.

Buy mango from a local farmer.

Yeah, yeah.

Very cool. So where can people find more about you or if somebody wants to sponsor a tree and get involved? Can you tell everyone how they can find you?

Indeed. Con mucho gusto. So we are communitycarbontrees.org on the internet. And the Sponsor Now page has various options. You can get a tax deduction in the USA by going through the Global Giving link. We work with that very prestigious 501(c)(3) umbrella, and we love our relationship with them. We also are really active on the Instagram channels, whether it's Community Carbon Trees Costa Rica or Tree Jenny, I think I do more posting on Tree Jenny, but both of those channels really have a great day by day, just day and the life. There's constant work going on, and those are great places to find us. We have a Facebook page, Community Carbon Trees, and we are picked up by a couple other platforms. We are on a platform out of Israel called Giving Way and that's available on our website, and we'll be on a few new platforms in the coming month or so when I get to all that paperwork. It's kind of the end of our planting season now, so we'll be focusing on management and chopping grass from here on out. But at a certain point, we have to stop planting because our rain season dries up typically in January. This kind of October through January is a period where I do a ton of computer work. And, yeah, we look forward to be on some other platforms. But for now, we like people to go through our platforms and fill out a certificate. If you make yourself a personalized certificate, you can send that to another person. People love it. They're like, "Oh, my gosh, my grandmother planted a tree for me." Or "I planted one for my grandmother."

Great idea.

It doesn't matter if it's 1 tree or a thousand trees. We value every single tree. It's a celebration, every tree. And they work as a community. Just as our global community of sponsors. We wouldn't be here without our sponsors. They're everything. What you do sponsoring a tree, it does make a difference and it feels good for you. I know it feels good because I watch people feel good and contact me and go, "Golly! Got on the airplane the other day, and I sponsored my 2 trees, Jenny. And thank you because I feel better about my vacation now." That's cool. It's not about guilt, right? Like I am not wagging fingers. No way.

No way.

It's about voluntary giving a gift back to Mother Earth for everything she gives us.

Absolutely. Thank you so much, Jennifer, for this podcast. I really appreciate what you're doing on this planet and all of the trees that you've birth into this life. What a gift that you've given. And hopefully many more will come. And hopefully some will come from this podcast. So yeah, thank you so much.

Thank you, Derek. Thanks so, so much for your time and your voice, and your outreach. We really depend on folks like you. You've made a difference. Thank you.

Thank you. Awesome. Pura vida.

Pura vida. Come shoutout at us if you come back down here. I'd love to take you out to see our projects.

For sure. I would love that. See my new tree?

Yes, indeed.

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