An intensive three day workshop looking at the development, maintenance and products of a successful orchard in the tropics. We will adapt what works in the forest to our agro-forestry projects.

Every good agro-forestry project begins with great design. We begin by designing the orchard layout; taking into account climate, landscape, water sources, intercropping and appropriate species, all while looking at the purpose and goals of your orchard. Students will learn all skills needed to create their own nursery: such as placement and infrastructure, sourcing plants and propagation; seeds, cuttings, air and ground layering and grafting. We will spend time in the Mastatal nursery working on different propagation techniques. Everyone will complete the workshop knowing how to graft and propagate their valuable species.

Students will learn how to plant out their orchards through hands-on planting demonstrations. We'll discuss how to use temporary space between the newly planted trees for intercropping plants that will quickly come into production.

Working with a developing agroforest requires a good understanding of working with soil, microbes and nutrients. We will look at each in detail with a focus on biochar, compost and bio-mass management.

Pruning and thinning trees is important and we will gain direct experience working with these in the orchards at Mastatal.

An important part of orchard management is what to do with the products of your labor! We shall devote time to a practical discussion on what to do with the fruits, nuts, spices and lumber that your orchard will provide.


This class is ideal for anyone

  • developing an organic, efficient orchard.
  • hoping to utilize land for food production.
  • wanting to strengthen and deepen their skills in orchard or forest management.
  • planting the zones 3 and 4 orchards in their permaculture projects.
  • desiring to hone in their propagation skills and techniques.
  • seeking an overview of agroforestry practices that work fabulously in an orchard context.


  • Deepen your skills in Orchard Managment
  • Overview of agroforestry practices
  • Utilise land for food production

Living Conditions.


  • private room
  • shared rooms

Omnivore Food

  • communally cooked meals
  • over 80% locally sourced


  • slow: emails only

Getting here.

Rancho Mastatal (not Villas Mastatal!) is about 2 ½ hours by car from Costa Rica's capital, San José, and approximately 1 hour by car from the Central Pacific Coast. You can easily come from or continue on to San José, Jacó, Quepos, Dominical or other destinations along the Pacific Coast. Please confirm your arrival with us before heading out to the Ranch.

The approximate GPS coordinates of Rancho Mastatal are latitude +9.67331, longitude -84.37373. If you decide to use a GPS, Waze or Google Maps to assist with your arrival, please be aware that it's possible that you may be directed by your device to use some extremely rough roads that we would not recommend driving on. Only use your GPS, Waze or Google Maps in conjunction with the below directions.


With enough advance notice, you can arrange a private shuttle to the Ranch from the airport, San José, or just about anywhere else in and around the Central Valley of Costa Rica with our friend Fernando Arias. The cost for a private shuttle from the Juan Santamaría International Airport is approximately $150, though prices can and do change. Night trips are $5 more expensive. If your flight arrives at night or late, Fernando and his wonderful family will put you up in their house in Puriscal for the night and feed you breakfast before bringing you out to the Ranch the following day. If you exercise this option, we suggest leaving them a little tip for their generosity. Fernando and his family are some of the kindest people we have ever met in Costa Rica. Please contact Fernando directly to confirm current shuttle prices and other details.


011 (506) 2416-7961
011 (506) 8633-2967
Email: gomastatal@gmail.com

If you decide to arrange a shuttle, contact Fernando with as much advance notice as possible and if coming to Mastatal directly from the airport please provide him with your name and flight information. Upon your arrival Fernando will be waiting for you, sign in hand, as you exit the airport. Once he has confirmed your shuttle, you are responsible for the cost even if you experience a change in your arrival time/date unless of course you/we are able to notify him in time. In the case of changes or problems call Fernando immediately. You can also try reaching us at the Ranch at 2200-0920. If calling from the States, dial 011 (506) before the listed phone number.

Fernando can also shuttle you from the Central Pacific Coast to the Ranch


Take the highway out of the capital going towards Ciudad Colón and Puriscal (sometimes referred to as Santiago). We recommend you drive during the day. To get to the highway from downtown San José, take Paseo Colón west, until you hit Sabana Park, then take a left, and follow the signs to Escazú/Ciudad Colón. If you are coming from Alajuela or the airport, you will have to head towards San José before picking up the highway to Ciudad Colón. A local map will be very helpful. On the way to Ciudad Colón, you will pass the town of Santa Ana. The highway can get a little confusing just before getting to Ciudad Colón. Make sure that you follow the correct signs. DO NOT HEAD TOWARDS CALDERA. In Ciudad Colón follow the one-way streets and signs towards Puriscal. You will then climb up and out of the Central Valley, and pass through the Quítirrisi Indian Reserve. From Ciudad Colón, it's about 40 minutes to Puriscal. Once in Puriscal, follow signs to Parrita/Quepos. Once outside of Puriscal, continue on the main road through the towns of Santa Marta, La Palma, Salitrales, and other small communities. The paved road ends about 15 kilometers outside of Puriscal. About 1 hour and 15 minutes after leaving Puriscal and soon after passing by the entrance to the administrative offices of La Cangreja National Park, you will arrive to an intersection. A small run-down bus stop and a few signs, one announcing "Mastatal", mark the junction. Make this left hand turn, and continue for 6 kilometers until you arrive to the town of Mastatal. There is one intersection along this road. Stay left and continue down the road. As you enter Mastatal, we are the house on the left of the main intersection with the red roof. There is a black gate that marks the entrance to the Ranch. We do not have a sign. Make sure not to confuse us with Villas Mastatal, another project in our community with a similar name.


You will take two buses — one from San José to Puriscal and the other from Puriscal to Mastatal. If you are coming direct from the airport, you will have to take either a bus or cab to get to San José before continuing on to Puriscal. Once in San José, take one of the frequent buses (every 30-60 minutes) from the Comtrasuli (phones in San José, 2258-3873 or 2256-0105, phone in Puriscal 2416-8036) bus terminal located on Avenida 1 between Calle 16 and Calle 18 in downtown San José. The buses are mostly modern. Take an express bus if possible. The trip from San José to Puriscal takes about 1 hour. Get off at the last stop in Puriscal, the Comtrasuli bus terminal. The bus to Mastatal leaves from in front of a "carnicería" and near the Doña Toña restaurant across from the Super Mora supermarket parking lot, one and a half blocks from the Comtrasuli bus terminal towards the center of town, at 3 p.m. except on Sundays when the bus does not run (either to or from Mastatal). There are 2 Super Mora grocery stores in town. Please make sure that you are near the larger one. You will want to arrive at least 20 minutes before the bus departs to assure a seat. There is sometimes a sign on the bus that reads "Zapatón" though you should ask the driver where he is going to be sure. The trip to Mastatal takes about 2 hours. Make sure that the driver knows that you are going to Mastatal, or he might charge you the maximum price, as the bus continues on to other stops after passing through Mastatal. The bus will drop you off almost directly in front of our house (red roof and black gate). Make sure not to confuse us with Villas Mastatal, another project in our community with a similar name.


There are two possible routes from Parrita (located ~30 kms west of Quepos, and 40 kms east of Jacó along the Central Pacific Coast) to Mastatal. The first route, shorter but rougher, takes you through the towns of La Vasconia, La Fila de Aguacate and San Miguel. During the rainy season a 4x4 vehicle is recommended and even in the dry season a high clearance vehicle can be helpful. About 2 kms west of Parrita, turn north on a road that starts in the midst of the African Oil Palms near where the palm transport trucks congregate. Look for a green sign that points towards "Playon".This road comes up quickly, so keep a close eye for it. Follow the road, through the palms, and then through the towns of Playón Sur, Playón San Isidro and La Vasconia. After passing through La Vasconia, you will come to a 'fork' in the road in front of the La Vasconia church (you have to look closely to recognize that it's a church). Stay left at the fork (there may be a small sign pointing towards San Miguel), and continue up the hill, sometimes steeply. You will pass through some very small villages and will come to the town of San Miguel 35 minutes after leaving La Vasconia. Mastatal is about 4 kms past San Miguel. Our house has a red roof and black gate, and is at the only intersection in Mastatal, the road to the right taking you to the Zapatón Indian Reserve, and the road going straight to Puriscal.

The other route from the Central Pacific Coast is longer but less demanding on your vehicle and can be traveled year-round in a two-wheel drive car. This road takes you through the towns of Vista del Mar, La Gloria and Guarumal. The road begins about 5 kms west of Parrita, and is marked by a sign pointing to Puriscal. After a few kilometers on this road, you will come to a 'fork'. Stay straight (do not go left). If you are not sure, stop and ask somebody. Continue straight passing through small villages. If you need to do any shopping, La Gloria is the last town of any significant size. After passing through La Gloria, continue straight for about 30 minutes until you come to an intersection. There are a number of signs here, which you will see the back of, and a small bus stop. One of the signs announces Mastatal. Take this right hand turn, and continue for 6 km to the town of Mastatal. There is one intersection along this road. Stay left and continue down the road. We are on your left as you enter town. The house has a red roof and the gate is black We do not have a sign. Make sure not to confuse us with Villas Mastatal, another project in our community with a similar name.


First you must get to Quepos or Parrita. From Quepos, take one of two buses each day that go to San José via Puriscal. These buses leave from the Quepos bus station at 4:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. (check with the bus station for possible changes in times) and pass through Parrita at approximately 5:15 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. There are other buses that go from Quepos to San José, but not via Puriscal, so you will have to be sure that you are on a bus that goes via Puriscal. Once you are sure that you are on the right bus, tell the bus driver that you are going to El Cruce de Santa Rosa. From Quepos, the bus heads northwest and passes through the town of Parrita, and then turns north headed for Puriscal. After about 1 hour and 15 minutes from this turnoff, you will come to the small town of Guarumal. There is a restaurant there named La Union. The morning bus out of Quepos arrives to La Union around 6:30 a.m. and the afternoon bus around 3:15 p.m. After leaving/passing through Guarumal, get ready to disembark from the bus. You want to get off at El Cruce de Santa Rosa, about 1.5 km after Guarumal. There is a simple bus stop and a number of signs that mark the intersection. From here, you will either have to walk the 6 km to Mastatal, hitchhike, or wait for the bus to Mastatal that passes by at approximately 4:35 p.m. (expect on Sundays when there is no bus to Mastatal) The latter is not a good option for travelers taking the early bus out of Quepos. Traffic on the road from El Cruce to Mastatal can be sparse. Our house is on the left as you enter into the town of Mastatal. Make sure not to confuse us with Villas Mastatal, another project in our community with a similar name.  


Agroforestry Skills is currently offering the following opportunities:

  • Orchard planning
  • propagation
  • planting
  • forest managment


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