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We will rehabilitate the land and people through proven regeneration practices by directly involving the community in hands-on education.



Source: Mesa Sostenible

Source: Mesa Sostenible

El Tambo is a traditional rural farming community in Nicaragua where 82 families (576 people) live. Four sustenance, low market-value crops are grown: rice, beans, corn, and plantains. These crops are grown and harvested once a year using soil damaging chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and land compacting tilling practices.

Approximately 65% of Nicaraguans are poor and 85% are deemed extremely poor. In this reality, it is very difficult to expect economic growth and vibrancy. This is especially true when the food that people eat is deficient in nutrients and leads to poor health. This is not an uncommon reality among indigenous people whose resources are depleted over generations.

By focussing on healing the land by engaging people in sustainable farm practices leading to greater personal health outcomes, our purpose serves several outcomes:

  • The people will be empowered to greatly improve their own health
  • Our collective efforts will produce efficiencies in nutritional farm practices.

Ultimately rural communities will be capable of serving a wider market for their organic farm products and they will be capable of managing healthy lifestyles.

Learn more about Mesa Sostenible:

Is this proposal for a practice or a project?


What actions do you propose?

MESA Sostenible will grow a wide variety of produce using a permaculture model that will demonstrate how nutritious organic food can be grown year-round without the use of soil tilling and agricultural chemicals. Permaculture practices build up the soil profile, add nutrients to the soil, create a welcome environment for beneficial insects and utilizes and sequesters water in substantially efficient ways. Drought is no threat to healthy permaculture farms and chemicals are not required.


Education Program

The hands-on education program will include two main areas:

  • Sustainable farming education will be centered around a permaculture model using a wide variety of nutritious crops without the use of chemicals. 
  • Hands on cooking lessons will utilize organic produce grown on the farm to teach healthy food preparation techniques and vital nutrition education.

Source: Mesa Sostenible

MESA Sostenible will serve as a role-model for rural communities throughout Nicaragua. 

The Impact

MESA Sostenible aims to have the following measurable impacts: 

  • Sustainable GROWing practices in the community will reduce malnutrition by producing a wide variety of healthy organic crops year round.
  • Hands-on COOKing lessons will ensure the maximum nutritional value of produce is maintained during consumption by teaching healthy and appropriate preparation methods. 
  • The community cooperative will SELL locally grown organic produce to nearby resorts, residents, and tourists. This will increase economic opportunities for local growers and create more jobs due to the current high demand for organic produce.

See the recipes that Chef Ron creates for the nutritional kitchen part of Mesa Sostenible For example:


Who will take these actions?

Community members of El Tambo are currently working with Cade and Ron—the founders of MESA Sostenible — an Aussie and an American, respectively, who have a passion for sustainability, food and giving back. Through Ron and Cade's partnership with community members, Mesa Sostenible has begun development (greenhouse is operational, trees and plants are growing, and planning is done).

For the past several years, our work in food and hospitality found us in different parts of the world working on private yachts. Over time, we began to feel ourselves being pulled away from life on-board and towards one rooted in land and community. We left our comfort zone, sold everything we owned and moved to Nicaragua, an area we fell in love with during our travels.

With backgrounds in cooking, nutrition and permaculture design, we found ourselves wanting to impart our skills onto others who could use them to build healthy communities.

Our Partners 


Paddock Studio is a registered landscape architecture firm based in Australia. The extensive professional collaborative consultation with Paddock Studio has been key in designing and planning MESA Sostenible with Ron.

We are proud to have these important local, and distant, partnerships. Our dynamic team has the extensive skills and experience necessary to successfully establish MESA Sostenible in El Tambo with the help of El Tambo's residents.

See more about Ron, Cade, Mesa Sostenible and the El Tambo community in pictures For example:

Where will these actions be taken?

MESA Sostenible will be established in El Tambo, Nicaragua. El Tambo is a traditional rural farming community near to the western coastline.


  • Population: 576
  • Families: 82
  • Average daily income: $2
  • Children: 288 under 18 years
  • Education: Only four of the age adults attend university


Source: Mesa Sostenible

This project could be replicated elsewhere in the world with the right mix of talent, resources, and dedicated community members seeking to strengthen their food resources and to cut down waste and reliance on fossil fuels. 

Recent Events

Tropical Storm Nate struck our region and MESA Sostenible on October 5th. We have seen first hand the devastating impacts of a climate change to our communities. Farming communities lost their entire bank accounts (stored in grain stocks), their homes, livestock, and livelihoods.

As a result, we have amended our projects foundations to take into consideration rising flood waters and be a first responder base. With over 50 volunteers and successful aid relief campaign, we were able to provide our communities with a significant amount of aid.

As catastrophic natural events become regular occurrences, we need to take actions to protect our communities, farms, and existence. Adapting to a permacultural and regenerative agricultural model will mean we can implement measures to mitigate the negative impacts of these events in the immediate term…. Land engineering - swales, berms, hugelkultur, and other systems designs that incorporate community support, food production, animal husbandry to benefit soil building and provide sustenance, and more.

In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.


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What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?

  • By growing more food in the community, people will not need to drive to larger communities to purchase food. This not only reduces reliance on fossil fuels but, during heavy rains - the community is cut off from the only route out by a river that rushes across the road and they are isolated for significant periods of time. Watch The River Runs Through It
  • By utilizing organic and permaculture principles and practices, there will be no applications of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides needed. This is not only important to create a sustainable, closed-loop food production system, but it also strengthens the health of community members. Learn more about the organic growing greenhouse and permaculture at Mesa Sostenible
  • The community members will become agents of change as they learn more about their impacts on the environment and learn how to change and adapt. This will have a generational effect.

Climate Change

A plan to create a cultural and behavioral shift from conventional agricultural practices to permaculture to mitigate, reverse and face the impacts of climate change for rural families and farmers in Nicaragua.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change. Our current state of overloading the atmosphere with CO2 is caused by burning fossil fuels, cutting down and burning forests, with the main driving industry, agriculture with livestock emissions, carbon releasing from soil tillage and chemical use (source 1).

According to Union of Concerned Scientists, the major impacts of climate change are:

  • Longer and more damaging wildfire seasons

  • More frequent and intense heat waves

  • Heavier precipitation and flooding

  • Accelerating sea level rise

So how can permaculture and regenerative agriculture be the answer to climate change?

Regenerative organic agriculture is integral to the climate solution. Regenerative organic agriculture refers to working with nature to utilize photosynthesis and healthy soil microbiology to draw down greenhouse gases (source 2).

How do the photosynthesis and the CO2 cycle work?

InfoGraphic Source: Carbon Cycle Organisation

By changing farming practices to regenerative systems, we can:

  • Increase soil organic carbon stocks

  • Decrease greenhouse gas emissions

  • Maintaining yields

  • Improve water retention in the land

  • Family farms can improve profitability

  • Traditional farming communities can revitalize

  • Develop biodiversity and resilience ecosystems

The impacts of increasing organic matter in soil:

With 82 families in El Tambo, we can encourage each family to convert or preserve one acre of their lands and implement regenerative and permaculture practices. By doing so, this will increase the organic matter in the soil through sequestering carbon with consistent plant and foliage coverage and through the photosynthesis process.

InfoGraphic Source: 

What are other key benefits?

  • The youth will experience healthy life management practices
  • Women and children won't be exposed to health threatening chemicals
  • Job creation will occur with the construction phase and after with the development of new economic opportunities associated with Mesa Sostenible
  • Mesa Sostenible will be an attraction for environmental tourism, bringing new money to the community

Climate Change

Addressing climate change is now built into the model of MESA Sostenible. We are striving forward with the development of MESA Sostenible by involving El Tambo in each step of the process. We hope that Climate Colab will continue to support MESA Sostenible creating a cultural and behavioral shift towards climate change together.

El Tambo and Climate Change Breakdown

El Tambo can stand as a community-wide model for carbon sequestering and fixing. The foundations of permaculture and regenerative agriculture do not need industrial or costly mechanical inputs. Without financial barriers to creating these practices, the basis of implementation lies in education, the existing focal point of MESA Sostenibles goals.

El Tambo CO2 Sequestering Calculation

82 families with one acre each, equals 36 tonnes of CO2 x 82 = 2952 tonnes of CO2 pulled from the atmosphere in El Tambo

Addressing and reducing climate change through CO2 sequestering is already ingrained in the foundations of the MESA Sostenibles permaculture model.

  • No-tillage - no carbon released from soil

  • Builds soil health to retain carbon

  • Does not use chemicals

  • Uses carbon fixing plants

  • Keeps soil covered at all times

  • Retains water in soil

  • Uses a wide variety of plants and vegetables

Model hands-on education area that demonstrates climate-smart regenerative and permaculture activities.

  • Food Forest

  • Rainwater catchment

  • Composting

  • Companion planted kitchen garden

  • Chop and drop

  • Community outdoor education center

  • Berms and swales


The team at MESA Sostenible has been actively creating an international network to create awareness about climate change and the benefits about making responsible decisions for the the future. As a results of these networking efforts, the project has gained attention and publication by the following outlets.

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects
2017 National Landscape Architecture Finalist - International Category, announced October 2017. Submission and collaborative consultation with Paddock Studio - Registered Landscape Architect.

Huffington Post - Pioneers of Change

Urban Organic Gardener

DockWalk Magazine

The Islander Magazine


What are the proposal’s projected costs?


$95,000 is needed to bring the MESA Sostenible Sustainable Farm and Nutrition Kitchen to life.

All financial and in-kind support will go towards education materials, farm equipment, plants, livestock, construction and the nutrition kitchen for El Tambo.


To date, Mesa Sostenible has raised $4,940 USD by 62 backers

Mesa Sostenible has the opportunity to host events such as a farmers market, cooking demonstrations and contests, wedding celebrations and other significant events. Fees may be charged to support Mesa Sostenible's work.


Nicaraguan culture is not accustomed to fundraising and volunteerism. People need money in exchange for their work. Mesa Sostenible is learning this as they meet with local people.

El Tambo is a rural community far from the capital city, Managua. Acquiring significant resources at a fair price (equipment, tools, farm supplies) is no easy feat.

Engaging outside sources for financial and other support is hampered by unreliable and expensive internet connections, distance to post offices, and out of country situation (not in USA). Being based outside of the USA and other developed countries eliminates the project from qualifying for many grants and supporting offers which are in alignment with the project's mission and objectives.


Years 1-2

  • Develop teams of local residents and professional help to assist in construction of facilities
  • Complete construction of facilities
  • Develop supporters and organizations to create a systemic support network
  • Begin marketing the project in Nicaragua
  • Grow plant stock and install in planned areas on property
  • Begin educational programs

Years 3-15

  • Have weekly classes in sustainable agriculture and nutrition education
  • Assist in the consultation of implementation of sustainable agricultural practices with the El Tambo community owned lands
  • Actively operate the community cooperative and be facilitating the sale of fresh organic produce grown in El Tambo to nearby resorts, hotel, restaurants, residents and tourists
  • Have established a year round productive crop cycle of healthy nutritious food systems
  • Have begun improvement in nutrition education and levels within households
  • Promote the MESA Sostenible model to surrounding community for adaption and estabilshment

Years 15-50

  • The community of El Tambo will be socially, economically and environmentally  established as a leader in sustainable agriculture and living practices

Source: Mesa Sostenible

About the author(s)

Author Cade Pia had a successful career as a First Officer aboard Private Yachts, he received professional training in maritime duties and he has a Bachelor of Business and Tourism Management. Cade and made a life-changing move to Nicaragua to implement a plan to give back to a community through developing climate resilience and economic potential. Cade at LinkedIn:

Ron Combs is a professionally trained Chef and knowledgable nutrition advisor, he has taught cooking lessons and worked a private Chef aboard private yachts for many years. Ron is certified practitioner by OAC and advisor in permaculture. Ron at LinkedIn:

Pia Jensen lives in Salto, Uruguay and was the 2013 Climate CoLab Judges Choice winner in the Agriculture and forestry category (Nicaragua: Carbon Sink, Economic Driver & Medicinal Plant Preservation) and is currently creating an urban farm/food forest. Her experiences include grantsmanship, policy development, educating educators, customer service, and permaculture. Pia at LinkedIn:

Related Proposals

None evidenced in Climate CoLab 2017.


Paddock Studio, Registered Landscape Architect, Australia.

Source:  International Bank for Reconstruction and Development/The World Bank (Washington, United States of America). Agriculture in Nicaragua: Performance, Challenges, and Options; 2015 Nov.

Public health and climate change framings of fossil fuel use reduction

Farm To Table New Mexico

Advances in Nutrition an International Review Journal, Health Benefits of Fruits and Vegetables

Resource: Permaculture Practitioners and Practices

Note: All graphic representations belong to Mesa Sostenible and Paddock Studio. Photos of team members provided by team members.