Very good representative happy tree owner of TATF writes:
"My wife and I approached the TATF investment with caution as I have devoted my entire 33-year legal career to investigating and litigating fraud cases, including all the classic business opportunity schemes like Ponzis, advance fees, planned bankruptcies, etc. So naturally we were slow to invest. We first traveled to Costa Rica to see the project for ourselves in 1994 and didn’t purchase our first trees until the following year. Since then we have purchased additional trees and regularly travel to Costa Rica and periodically check on them. In the process we have visited all but one of the tree farms and also the Raleo facility in San José.
Any suggestion that TATF and Raleo are anything but legitimate, well-run businesses is ludicrous. Everything we have seen and heard on our journeys, including many conversations with other satisfied tree owners, is exactly as depicted on the TATF website and in its newsletters.
As a former high school exchange student in Costa Rica and a Spanish major in college, I speak the language fluently, which has allowed me to ask questions and privately gauge the reactions of the field workers on the farms we visit. Among the many social benefits of this project, TATF has created jobs for approximately 200 workers who couldn’t otherwise find such gainful employment in the rural areas where they live. Without exception I have found TATF’s field workers to be grateful and enthusiastic supporters of the project. The same goes for the Costa Rican men and women employed by Raleo in San José. All of TATF’s and Raleo’s employees are treated with dignity, honesty and respect. You can see it on their faces even if you don’t speak Spanish. These people are the heart and soul of both projects and without them there would be no TATF or Raleo. Although some tree investors might prefer to apply metrics to the daily contributions of these humble workers, it is impossible to measure their true value. Few organizations can claim a stable workforce of 200 satisfied field workers, not to mention the other hundred or so others employed by Raleo. It has taken time and energy to build two such hardworking and efficient business organizations, especially in a foreign land where the language, laws and culture are so different than ours in the U.S.
For the past ten years my wife and I, in partnership with a small group of rural Costa Rican land owners, have been developing a private biological reserve as a sustainable ecotourism project on the southern Pacific coast of the country, not far from several of TATF’s tree farms. Through them and others, we can independently attest that TATF has earned a reputation as one of Central America’s premier rainforest conservation leaders. TATF, in combination with Raleo, is providing not only Costa Rica but the entire world with a working model that will last and be replicated for decades to come. Again, traditional investment metrics have no practical application to TATF’s incredibly important contribution to the environment and future preservation of our tropical rainforests.
TATF’s tree selections also are an important but little-discussed aspect of the project. Most of the species TATF grows are endangered and there is virtually no available growth or habitat data about them. TATF is gathering and using this invaluable data for the benefit of its tree owners and it will someday be available to others similarly interested in rainforest preservation and sustainable growth projects. The value of TATF’s contribution to our planet’s future—especially to the lives of impoverished inhabitants of the tropical rainforest—is inestimable.
These are but some of the many social and environmental benefits that TATF is creating and they deserve prominent mention on this blog.
TATF is not a sure-fire, short-term financial investment or a get-rich-quick scheme, and it’s never been advertised as such. In fact, quite the opposite is true. As its newsletters attest, TATF has operated in uncharted territory from day one. TATF has undertaken a project that has never before been attempted in quite this fashion, as far as I am aware. I do know that no tree investment project of this type I have come across in my research has been nearly as candid, forthcoming and transparent as TATF. Its tree owner newsletters provide an accurate and complete historical record of the many challenges the project has faced and overcome, and its vision and blueprint for the future. Nothing has been exaggerated, misstated or hidden from view.
So far I haven’t mentioned the founders of TATF and Raleo, Steve and Sherry Brunner. If anyone has assumed great financial risk in these projects, and stand to lose their shirts if they fail, it is they. They alone scoured the Costa Rican countryside to purchase the land on which our trees were planted and are now growing. They alone invested in and established Raleo to create a market for and add value to our trees. All this they did on their own, and from their own pockets. We tree owners share all the benefits of these significant financial investments, and none of the risks. This is one important metric that critics can take into consideration—and have largely ignored. Just try duplicating TATF, beginning with the purchase of vast tracts of real estate, and tying up all that money for 20-plus years while awaiting others to ask you to plant trees there for them.
There is one more important investment metric that cannot be applied to TATF and Raleo: the dedication, honesty and personal integrity of their founders. When 24-inch rains fell from hurricane Caesar in 1996, causing unprecedented flooding that wiped out thousands of planted trees, Steve and Sherry Brunner voluntarily replaced them with their own trees and immediately replanted thousands more for the affected tree owners, thereby sparing them from considerable financial loss. When an unforeseen road was unlawfully cut on property adjoining one of TATF’s farms and produced massive landslides that destroyed a hillside of planted trees, Steve and Sherry again replaced them, voluntarily and without hesitation, at their own expense. None of this was required by TATF’s tree owner contract. Rather, these selfless acts demonstrated Steve and Sherry’s sincere dedication to the project, their lifelong devotion to their tree owners, and their personal integrity. I know of no investment project where the principals have made such generous and unselfish sacrifices for their investors.
To suggest that the Brunners are anything less than absolutely honest is an insult to everyone who personally knows them and to the hundreds of satisfied tree owners who have entrusted their funds to them.
Whatever criticisms or suggestions of my own about TATF and Raleo that I might add to this blog, none would concern the transparency or integrity of either operation. Like other investors, I wish my trees would grow faster and higher, and get to market sooner and that I could receive more and bigger distribution checks, and get them sooner. But what really counts is the long term success of our investment in TATF and whether in the short term the project, in tandem with Raleo, continues to overcome whatever challenges may be encountered.
Only time will tell, but so far TATF’s track record is excellent and most encouraging, and my wife and I remain confident in the value of our tree investments.
--A Satisfied Tree Owner and Ohio Lawyer"<<<
I agree. And i want to thank you in advance for becoming an assistant mod here.