Lindsae Gehrlein is the “founding farmer” of RebelEarth Urban Farm, located in beautiful Escazu, Costa Rica. The farm is situated on the rooftop terrace of the Sheraton San Jose, a new LEED certified hotel and casino. RebelEarth provides organic produce for the property’s three high-quality restaurants.
This vertical aeroponic Tower Garden® farm is located on a rooftop terrace only a few hundred yards from the kitchen, which allows Lindsae to be in daily communication with the executive chef, Kevin Ketron. This relationship between farmer and chef creates a cohesive process; as the menu evolves, so does the farm and the guest experience. An immense perk to having the farm on site is that the produce is harvested on demand and is delivered as a living plant, preserving nutrients and vitality. This creates ease and removes the challenge of reviving lackluster produce that has been sitting in the cooler for too long.
The farm is more than a place to grow food; it is also an all-encompassing educational platform. Although Costa Rica is known for lush farmland, many people are unaware of the intense pesticide use in the country, which is ranked among the highest in the world. Lindsae feels dually passionate about providing healthy, locally grown, pesticide-free produce with the Tower Gardens® while using RebelEarth as a platform to educate people about the dangers of pesticide use. As a certified holistic health coach, Lindsae has been educating and empowering people in the health field for the last eight years, and views the creation of RebelEarth as another exciting opportunity to generate change as a health educator.
“The motivation for starting this farm was multifaceted. First, it was time for my family and I to make a change. My husband and I had been looking to move out of the country to provide our children with a broader world perspective and fluency in another language. I also felt drawn to be part of a project my family was working on in Costa Rica: building a LEED certified hotel and casino. Because of the sustainable nature of the project, the Future Growing Tower Garden concept fit right into the project’s business model, a realization that was prompted last August while listening to Future Growing® founder and CEO Tim Blank speak at a conference in Rhode Island,” Lindsae said.
“As I was sitting there listening to Tim, something clicked and I knew in that moment what my role in the family business would be: I was meant to bring this amazing farming technology to Costa Rica! This realization was both terrifying and exhilarating simultaneously. I called Tim a short time later and shared my passion for this vision and expressed my fears about making this shift in my life,” Lindsae continued. “Tim said, ‘If you make the decision to do this, then we will have your back every step of the way. Trust me, I’ll get you training with our best farmers and, from there, the process is easily duplicated. You won’t fail if you follow the process. It is actually quite simple, and I believe in you and your passion to do this’.”
In December of 2012, Lindsae, her husband, Michael, and their two daughters, Chloe and Lilly, chose to embrace the family mantra, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. By February, with the help of supportive friends and family, their life in Connecticut was packed up and the family was on a plane to Costa Rica. In early March, Lindsae went to train at Future Growing’s® flagship farm in California, Montecito Urban Farm. The training infused Lindsae with hands-on growing experience, farm management skills, and other education from experienced farmers like Alex Thomson and Todd Mehl, who are always available to Lindsey through Future Growing’s® network of supportive farmers.
By April, RebelEarth had its first huge harvest of lettuces, herbs, and vegetables ready for the resort. “My learning in all this is that our family tossed fear aside and followed our passion. The place we are in now is extraordinarily expansive, exciting, and growing every day. We are living life to the plus and never looking back!”, Lindsae said.
“The farm has already evolved into a huge wellness platform for us,” she added. Last summer, the children in the ecology program at the Tree of Life International School in Santa Ana, Costa Rica visied the farm to learn about the Tower Garden® aeroponic farming technology. The students spent a morning on the farm seeding and harvesting, followed by a tasting of Tower Garden® salad. RebelEarth will soon offer Rebel’s Grow & Glow, a weekend of Tower Garden training, daily rooftop vinyasa yoga classes, and fresh Tower Garden® food. Check out the RebelEarth Facebook page for details on upcoming events and training events at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rebelearth-Urban-Farm/453043478117273.
Founder and CEO, Future Growing® LLC