Tomatoes, Carrots, and Some Butterflies, Please.
There is something very rewarding about shopping a farmer’s market. When I return home with a basket of tomatoes and a bunch of carrots, I know that I have helped a farmer in a small way. It is empowering to think that my purchase can have an effect on other people. The same is true of butterfly farms. Yes, there are farmers out there that raise butterflies and I was fortunate to have the chance to visit a butterfly garden right in the bustling city of San Jose, Costa Rica.
Spirogyra is an enchanting tropical garden that protects the last of the city’s forested land and provides a home for many incredible butterflies. Even more inspiring, Spirogyra works with 15 other farms to raise butterfly pupae, offering families a competitve source of income and incentive to promote rainforest conservation.
How does it all work? Generally, there is a netted enclosure where butterflies reside and mate, laying eggs on plants. These eggs are gathered by the farmers and placed in containers that are checked daily for hatching caterpillars. Caterpillars are picky eaters and need a specific host plant. They are provided host plant cuttings and placed into rearing bins. As they eat and grow, farmers check continuously for the products that they will export- chrysalids. These little jewels are carefully wrapped, packed, and then sent for destinations around the world such as yours truly.
Now, the incredible thing is that making a difference can be as easy as making a trip to the Butterfly Pavilion. In each admission there is a gift to a farmer of a better life, a sense of worth, and insight of resource conservation. So let’s not wait to enjoy the farmers’ harvests!
Written by Khanh Whiteman
Zookeeper, Butterfly Pavilion