The Sustainability Prize


This year’s runners-up were Johanna Carmona and Carolina Aguilar, for their project Cultivarme, a marketing strategy for contract farmers in Limón, Costa Rica, providing economic support and financial leverage to farmers, ensuring fair trade, and providing consumers with access to fresh, local goods.

Carolina (left) and Johanna (right) with goods from local farmers, sold on the EARTH campus

The agricultural production systems for small and medium-scale producers often have trouble responding to price fluctuations in the market, and therefore receiving fair prices with regularity.

After analyzing the current situation, Johanna and Carolina established a pilot marketing strategy for the goods of contract farmers local to Limón, Costa Rica, providing economic support to producers as a means of financial leverage. In addition to ensuring direct and fair trade, the plan granted consumers at EARTH University access to fresh, high-quality local products. This trial run was intended from the start to assess replicability for other agricultural regions.

Local producers and their families

The project was structured in four phases: elaboration of the business plan, general diagnosis, design of the logistical process, and finally, application and evaluation of the system.

The results identified the potential demand and supply of products from the area, the need for direct and fair markets, and a financial analysis of the strategy. The marketing model, and the market itself, was successful on the EARTH campus, leading to greater awareness of responsible consumption and production, the reduction of pollution, and the empowerment of local producers. The team concluded that local consumption has a strategic advantage, fulfilling social, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability. The prizewinners hope to implement this model in other agricultural regions in the future.

Local produce on the EARTH campus

This year, deliberations for the prizewinner were particularly tough, with only a hair’s breadth separating the winners from the runners-up. Inspired by the quality of both of the projects, Ivor Freeman, one of the lead funders of the prize, committed $2,500 on the spot for the runners-up, for the continued development of Cultivarme. To read more about the prize ceremony and the prizewinners, click here.

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