Project Nicaragua: #AquaforNicaragua2014

We arrived in Nicaragua a week ago today. After heading up the mountain to El Ocotal, we were able to successfully install 38 water filters by Thursday!

photo 3

photo 2

Here some of the containers are getting their final coat of paint.

On friday, we took a trip to the NCA to work on a second phase of the landscape project, we worked on in previous years, after an expansion of The Nicaragua Christian Academy.

photo 5

photo 4 copy

photo 1 copy

Today, we are headed back up the mountain to install the last 12 water filters in El Ocotal.

photo 1

We can squeeze a lot more bodies in a pickup down here in Nicaragua, something tells us this wouldn’t be acceptable back in Muskoka!

photo 2

Something we’re doing differently this year- check out the hashtag #aquafornicaragua on Instagram many of the Team Nicaragua group have been posting their own pictures and stories for a more personal look at the trip.



Project Nicaragua: An update

Departure day is fast approaching, being February 16th! Team Nicaragua has some exciting news, in late fall we were fundraising for the making and installation of biosand filters for the village of El Ocotal, Nicargua. Our goal was to raise the funds to install 50 filters, and we’re beyond thrilled to announce that we collected enough for 64 biosand filters!

Our cup is literally overflowing!


Since then, our local Nicaraguan crew has been busy making these concrete filters in preperation for our arrival.




These are the finished concrete forms, once we arrive we’ll take 50 up to El Ocotal, to be installed into the villager’s homes. The remaining 14 will be installed in villages we’ve visited in previous years. On site we’ll prepare the biosand filters inside these forms, read more about that here.



As the team packs their bags for departure, and prepares to scale a mountain, we look forward to providing you with more updates!

Thankful for another Season

Another season has wrapped up, and as we in Muskoka sit and wait for warmer temperatures (it’s currently -30 Brrr).

Take a look at our very last job of the season.  A 45ft spaded white pine to be planted while the ground is frozen in mid December.

After one small set back- getting caught up in overhead wires,


You can see it’s being lifted by crane into it’s final location!




Planting was a success!

Our annual Team Nicaragua trip is coming up quick! We’ve been keeping our final water filter stats underwraps, lets just say with your help we’ve exceeded our expectations! Check back soon for our final update.

Stay warm!


Water Wednesday: a Different Point of View

Since our first trip to Nicaragua, we’ve had the help of man we call Pete, he oversees the making and installation of all the Biosand filters. It takes approximately 15 hours to make  one filter, so Pete along with a crew he hires make them before we arrive. As a native Nicaraguan he sees the experience differently then we do:

“Hola (Hi in spanish) My name is Pedro Enrique Moreira and I am in charge of the water filter project in Nicaragua.  It has been a Godly experience to learn and to share these wonderful filters with almost 184 families, covering 7 different villages in the Matagalpa Area. But as any normal story, there’s always a beginning.  In our first year in El Quebrachal (first village) I didn’t know what I was getting into.  Each filter is almost 260 pounds( 117 kg) empty not mentioning the 6 litres of gravel plus the 27 litres of washed sand that each filter needs.  We got to the village and all we saw was a really warm welcoming from all the people, you felt Gods love in all these people. It was a nice stormy day, it poured rain the whole day, we had to walk almost 2 hours carrying this filters to their homes.


As you can see in this picture we tied the filters on Bambu sticks to transport them.


And then of course on our shoulders, you need 4 guys to carry them.


The path of the village wasn’t very smooth. But of course nothing stopped us, we knew that it was God’s ministry and he was the one strengthening us the whole time.  The relationships I built in their homes is what keeps me moving and keeps my passion growing and growing. Next year along with the team from Rockscape Design and others friends, brothers and sisters, we want to install 50 more filters. I want to thank you in the name of all the families that are getting filters!”

Craig and Sue Rose (owners of Rockscape Design) with Pete in Nicaragua in February 2012.

Craig and Sue Rose (owners of Rockscape Design) with Pete in Nicaragua in February 2012.

We like to thank Pete also for all the time and effort he puts into this project with us.  And we’re excited to tell him that we’ve raised the funds for 38 Filters so far! We are just 12 away from our goal of 50 Biosand filters for the town of El Ocotal.

We are ecstatic to have surpassed last years total! And we are hoping we can meet our goal this year as well! So, as always- Help fill our cup!


Water Wednesday: Landscape Project

Grateful, doesn’t even begin to describe how we are feeling! In the past three weeks we have raised just over 50% of the funds we need! Thanks to all of our supporters and clients for purchasing 29 Biosand Filters so far!


We are looking to install 50 filters in total, so we still have some fundraising to do. Hopefully you can help us get there!

Two years ago, Rockscape Design was able to help with the excavation for a new school, The Nicaragua Christian Academy.




To date, the first phase of the school has been completed. This house grades 1-8 and a second building is under construction for kindergarten.






And this year along with ambitious the task of installing 50 water filters in the village of El Ocotal, Nicaragua,  We are going to embark on a two day landscape project on the finished school.

photo 1


The plan is to mesh what we know as Muskoka landscape contractors with the tropical environment of Nicaragua. This will include rock work and planting to re-naturalize the construction area to surrounding landscape. Like every project Rockscape is involved in, we know this will present its challenges and we will be learning from the experience.

To learn more about NCA, please click here




Water Wednesday: a Different Point of View

Every year in Nicaragua, whether we’re excavating for a new school, visiting the Re-nutrition Centre, or installing Biosand filters- we know it helps to change lives. What may not be as evident, is how greatly it impacts our own.



It was Tom Cheeseman’s third year at Rockscape Design when he took the trip to Central America:

“Heading to Nicaragua was a first for me. I’d never been outside of North America, and I only had the word of others as to what to expect. The Roses’ (Craig, Sue and Kayleigh) had told me all about how beautiful country it was, and Fraser (Gowland) told me a bunch about what to expect.

Being a tropical plant lover, I was excited for the chance to visit a place where the plants I grow as house plants are part of the natural environment. I was also very curious to work towards helping the people (of Nicaragua) have clean water, which is so easy for us to obtain and something I now know we take for granted.

The people in ‘Nica’ are not really any different from those here in Muskoka. They are happy people who are willing to help in any way they can. We took an evening to wander the streets of Matagalpa shopping for souvenirs, and it wasn’t that different from shopping in Toronto on a summer night!

But the biggest difference was being in the village where we installed filters. The homes were very simple, and the people were very grateful for the work we were doing. Many of the children seemed to accept us as a passing curiosity and  great entertainment. But I feel that the adults were very happy to have us there. I have to admit, I’m a hugger. And there was no shortage of hugs from the people of Nicaragua. From the people in the villages to the translators and guides, we were accepted as family.

Thinking ahead to future visits and Mission’s trips, I can only hope to learn as much from the help I give to the help I get in my own life here.”

-Tom Cheeseman





Tom plans on returning again in February, this time to El Ocotal to install water filters. We’ve been able to raise about ten percent of the money we need, with our fundraising efforts so far. We would like to supply 50 Biosand filters to El Ocotal, Nicaragua and we’ve still go a ways to go.




Water Wednesday: Biosand Filters

Clean water is taken for granted more often then not in Canada. We are blessed to have enough water to drink, wash, clean, and of course keep our landscapes looking green and lush. Team Nicaragua and Rockscape Design aim to make clean water available to those who see it as a luxury.

Biosand Filters are an extremely effective way to create clean drinking water. They are affordable, when you consider a donation of $350 will supply one filter to a family and it will produce clean water for 20 years. They are reasonably portable and easy to install. And they do not require the use of electricity.

water filter

Biosand filters are not a new concept, but adapted from a traditional sand water filter that have been used for 0ver 200 years. The biosand filter is smaller (about 1 m tall, 0.3 m wide on each side) and adapted so that it does not flow continuously, making it suitable for use in people’s homes. The filter container can be made of concrete or plastic. It is filled with layers of specially selected and prepared sand and gravel. The sand removes pathogens and suspended solids from contaminated drinking water. A biological community of bacteria and other micro-organisms grows in the top 2 cm of sand. This is called the biolayer. The micro-organisms in the biolayer eat many of the pathogens in the water, improving the water treatment.


The filter containers that are built from the money we raise our made of concrete, they are made by local Biosand technician, Pete Moreira and a team of Nicaraguans that he hires to work alongside him. The containers take approximately 15 mans hours to build over the course of a couple weeks as the concrete must set and go through a curing process. It’s so important that we get the funds early (our trip is from Feb 14-24, 2014).

To create a sense of ownership and feeling of accomplishment, a few strong members of each family, carry their filter to their home from town. After that, members of Nicaragua Team which include many from Rockscape Design, assemble the filter. Including the sands, and gravel.


How Does the Biosand Filter Work?

You can use any kind of water in the biosand filter – well water, borehole water, pond or river water, tap-stand water, or rainwater. This makes it very convenient for people because they can use whichever water source is closest to home, make it safe to drink. The water must not have been chlorinated though, or the chlorine will kill the biolayer. The water should also not contain any dangerous chemicals, because the biosand filter cannot remove most chemicals from water.

Contaminated water is poured into the top of the biosand filter at least once per day (but not continuously). The water poured into the top of the filter slowly drips through the holes in the diffuser, and flows down through the sand and gravel. Treated water flows out of the outlet tube. No power is required – the filter works by gravity. It should take about 1 hour to get 12-18 litres of filtered drinking water.

Pathogens and suspended solids are removed through biological and physical processes that take place in the sand. These processes include: mechanical trapping, predation, adsorption, and natural death.


We are trying to raise the funds to provide all 50 families in El Ocotal, Nicaragua with a Biosand Filter. Along with the filters a medical team is sent into the village to remove existing viruses and parasites, within three months we have a healthy, thriving village.


We are still along way from our goal of 50 filters for the town of El Ocotal, we’d ideally like to raise the money by the beginning of November. We’re aiming high, but we really hope we can do it. If you can, help us fill our cup!

For more information on how to help please see Water Wednesday: Project Nicaragua or feel free to Contact Us.

Information on Biosand Filters can be found at








Project Nicaragua: Water Wednesday

Team Nicaragua as well as everyone at Rockscape Design is excited to once again launch Water Wednesdays. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll be familiar with our fundraising efforts, if not we’d like to fill you in!

Our team- Team Nicaragua, has planned to once again take the trip to Central America this time in February 2014 from the 14th-24th. In Matagalpa, Nicaragua and it’s surrounding villages, clean water is a luxury not a necessity. We aim to make clean water accessible to as many families as possible. This year we’ve focused our attention on El Ocotal, a small rural village of 50 families.


With all the help we received last year from the community, friends, family and clients we were able to install 30 water filters.  For the cost of $350, one filter has the ability to provide a family with clean water for 20 years! With the success of last years campaign, this year our goal is to provide all 50 families in El Ocotal.

Completed water filters ready to be installed by our team!

The water filters seen above were made from the proceeds of this campaign last fall,  the funds have to be raised before the filters can be produced. So the countdown is on, Team Nicaragua is once again looking for your help in raising the money needed. Again, we hope to to provide 50 filters to the the town El Ocotal, we are hopeful that with your help we can achieve our lofty goal! So if you can, please help!

Here’s how:

Please send a cheque for $350.00 made payable to “Missionary Ventures” to Rockscape Design.

In order for the filters to be constructed in time, for our arrival, cheques will need to be received at our office by the end of October.

Rockscape Design
15 Barron Drive
Bracebridge, Ontario
P1L 0A1

This campaign is tax deductible, Missionary Ventures has helped us by providing tax receipts to our willing contributors.

Last year we aimed to make this a personal venture, we encouraged our donators to write a letter and/or provide a photo of their family in return a photo of the family that received their filter would be given back, we’d love to do this again.

So once again we’d like to ask you to help fill our cup!



If you’re interested, take a look back at last years Water Wednesday’s efforts, as well as Project Nicaragua.  And check for update info on Facebook and twitter.

Any questions please feel free to Contact Us.








In Bloom: August addition

Summer may be winding down- still can’t believe that, but in August some of our favourite performers are just coming alive in the landscape.


Native Echinacea ‘purpurea’ mixed with Echinacea ‘white swam’ line the edge of a long driveway. They look like they’re leaning in to greet passersby.


In the foreground more Echinacea ‘purpurea’ towers over a mass of Rudebeckia ‘goldstrum’. Behind that Russian Sage ‘filigran’ is allowed to flop as it pleases.  All these late bloomers line a small plot of grass in the middle of the landscape, have you ever seen anything more lush?!

You can see why we love the August landscape, and there is still much more to come.