Vail Valley: ‘A course in miracle’ |

Vail Valley: ‘A course in miracle’

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyChildren of Chimurria, Costa Rica, helped Vail Valley resident Mindy Feldman, back, plant trees on her farm as part of her reforestation project. Feldman, of Avon, also began teaching the local children English in her spare time.

VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – A course in miracle – that’s what Vail Valley, Colorado resident Mindy Feldman is calling her time in Costa Rica.

Feldman, co-owner of the Radio Shack in Avon, has been down in Costa Rica since 2004 working on her farm, building a house and now teaching English to local children.

“One after the other, I began collecting people in my life to play in this new movie of mine, where the scenes were constantly changing,” Feldman said.

Feldman named her 13-acre farm Finca Bella Luna, which means “pretty moon” in Spanish. She bought the land, which used to be a pasture for cows and pigs, in 2004 and has since planted more trees and flowers than she can count.

Feldman had moved to Costa Rica part-time in 2002 with her daughters, who were 11 and 12 at the time, because she wanted them to learn Spanish and she wanted to open their eyes to the real world, she said.

“Vail is la-la-land,” Feldman said. “I felt like I was cheating my daughters out of real-life – I felt a huge responsibility to move my kids down to study Spanish and see how others live.”

Plus, after 25 winters living in Colorado, Feldman was getting fed up with the short growing season in her garden. Now that she’s in Costa Rica, she said she is growing just about everything imaginable.

She said the volcanic soil and climate in Costa Rica “is like cheating.”

Feldman grows everything from pineapple to avocado to passion fruit to plantains. She usually gives away her crops or trades them for eggs, milk and other plants.

Now, Feldman decided it’s time help the local Costa Rican children grow their education. She began teaching English in her spare time, free of charge.

She decided to start teaching English to the children who live on her street. She told one mother she’d hold the first class the following day – nine children showed up. She’s had no less than six kids a day ever since.

“Today we went over the top 20 words you would use in the English language,” Feldman said.

Feldman admits she’s not a teacher, but she’s been downloading lesson plans from the Internet and she’s teaching her students with the same passion she puts into her farm. She calls it an English summer camp.

She’s incorporated her farm into some of the lessons, too – last week the students helped her plant about 50 trees as part of the reforestation project she’s leading on her farm.

Afterwards, she took the kids for pizza for a little taste of American culture.

“The kids are precious and not only are they learning English, but they are learning about reforesting and planting food,” she said. “And I am learning Spanish from them, so it’s a win-win for us all.”

Feldman goes to Costa Rica a few times a year and is hoping to bring some high school-aged students with her in June to help teach English. She said the experience couldn’t be more rewarding, and she wants to share it with “like-minded people.”

She wants others to see what it’s really like to be rich – something she said her daughters learned in Costa Rica.

“They were used to thinking rich was big houses and nice cars,” Feldman said. “Here, when you walk down the street everyone smiles, everyone waves, and they don’t even know who you are. They’re richer than most people I know in Vail.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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