That’s how Henry unexpectedly landed in Costa Rica, where he founded Villa Vanilla, which back then was a cow pasture speckled with barely a few trees. At first, the farm was managed using conventional agricultural techniques. The focus was on growing vanilla using one type of host tree (the coral tree) and maintaining a lawn approach to row management. Any plant that didn’t fit into the planting scheme was subject to the thrust of the machete.
After several successful harvests with lady luck by his side Costa Rica suddenly became the brunt of a series of tropical hurricanes that deposited eight meters of rain for two successive years! Excessive water stress along with a degenerated planting material and the application of unsound agricultural practices brought vanilla production in Costa Rica to a sudden halt.
This experience forced Henry to reflect more on tropical agriculture in general and sustainable practices specifically. After reading as many books and articles on non-conventional agriculture as he could he came upon a book called “Secrets of the Soil” by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. His attention was attracted by the several chapters devoted to a holistic approach to agriculture called biodynamics. This book encouraged him to acquire more literature and participate in biodynamic conference to learn more of this ancient art of agriculture.