Initiated in 2004, the Heart of Gold project is a 'mutual learning and research alliance' between Vancouver Island University (formerly known as Malaspina University College), Canada and the rural Los Santos Region of Costa Rica.
At the beginning, the Heart of Gold Project's focus was towards supporting and promoting the new coffee production model called, Direct Trade. Then, the project began to focus on helping the community to develop and improve on agrotourism practices. In the Spring of 2008, the Heart of Gold project adopted a new focus for future research and student learning experiences in the Los Santos region of Costa Rica. That new focus is the creation and development of the Los Santos Eco-Trail.
It is intended that the Heart of Gold project will generate knowledge and information that has applicability for other rural communities in developing countries facing transitional challenges and seeking social equity and local economic restructuring.
"I want to live, I want to give... I crossed the ocean for a Heart of Gold." (Neil Young)