Ecological Practices at Amatierra Yoga Retreat in Costa Rica

AmaTierra Yoga Retreat Takes Nutrition Seriously: Organically Growing Their Own

Tucked away in the mountains surprising close to San Jose is an oasis for those seeking peace and serenity and a place where people can nurture themselves with yoga, wellness services and fresh organic foods, many of which are grown on the property, a unique feature at the AmaTierra Yoga Retreat and Wellness Center.


Jill showing guests the herbal garden

“It’s not easy to find organic produce in Costa Rica,” owner and registered nutritionist/herbalist Jill Ruttenberg says, “so we grow especially our greens and some fruits here on the property to be sure they are fresh and organic. Vegetables can lose up to 45 percent of their nutritional value between the time they are picked and when you buy them in the grocery store, and it is a proven fact that organic produce has more vitamins and minerals than commercially grown, non-organic produce.”

Hydroponically grown celery

Hydroponically grown celery

The greenhouse at AmaTierra is hydroponic; space-saving heavy plastic hanging bags make growing easier, and rice hulls and coconut fiber are used to keep in moisture. Here you will find fresh arugula, fennel, mint, swiss chard, lettuce and bok choy, vegetables rich in antioxidants (cancer-fighting agents), vitamins and minerals. Guests give AmaTierra 5 stars on for their food, and freshness and flavor is the main reason why.

Last December AmaTierra grew and harvested 80 kilos of turmeric (curcuma longa), a root used in Indian cooking that has medicinal properties to help inflammation, liver and digestive problems, and to help prevent cancer. “We use turmeric in many of our dishes here,” Ruttenberg says, “in curries, gallo pinto, soups and oven-roasted root vegetables. It has a pretty mild flavor but is a powerful herbal ally.”

As a professional clinical herbalist registered with the American Herbalist Guild, Ruttenberg leads detox retreats and counsels both visiting guests and local residents to help them improve their physical health. “Many of the plant medicines I use come from the land here. Costa Rica is rich in medicinal plants—guava leaves for diarrhea, gotu kola for memory and menopause symptoms, gotas amargas and hombre grande for parasites–all of these can be made into strong medicines to help people heal.”

amatierra-foundation-kidsOrganics are catching on with the locals too! The Ruttenbergs created the AmaTierra Foundation as a response to what they saw as a need for education in healthy nutrition and sustainable practices. The Foundation is reaching out to help families build their own hydroponic gardens so they can enjoy fresh produce and better health. People are learning that it’s a fast, easy and inexpensive way to eat!


Amatierra wellness, yoga center and spa

All are invited to come and see the gardens at AmaTierra, especially now that green season special rates are in effect. “Perhaps you will be inspired to grow your own!” says Jill. “Or, call ahead if you want to come for lunch or dinner, or just spend a nice day taking a yoga class or treat yourself to a therapeutic massage.”

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