Quake and Bake

Costa Rican agriculture has been greatly influenced by the immigration of Quakers and other North American settlers into the cloud forests during the mid-to-late 1900s. For example, some of the North American Quakers who moved to the cloud forest to farm, such as our speaker, Marvin Rockwell, had extensive medical experience, they could aid Costa Ricans living in the area who would otherwise need to travel a long distance to get medical attention. This allowed the agricultural communities in and around the cloud forests to increase their production and life expectancy, improving their overall quality of life. Another important impact on Costa Rican agriculture is that the Quaker communities established in the cloud forests were some of the first people to successfully farm at such high altitudes in that region. After this precedent was set, future generations found it easier to set up farms in similar areas, which further benefitted Costa Rican agriculture.

For the ecotourism industry in Costa Rica to develop to the point at which it now is, many changes had to take place during the time that the first Quakers were settling the cloud forest areas. White settlers from North America developed good relations with Costa Ricans due to the increase in economic growth and access to medical care that they provided to communities. As result, the already strong diplomatic relations between Costa Rica and the United States of America became further solidified. In addition, settlers like Marvin Rockwell opened and maintained hotels to service tourists traveling around the cloud forests. This made available the opportunity for more tourists to travel to Costa Rica to appreciate the beautiful, natural landscapes. These landscapes are present to be appreciated in part thanks to the immigrant Quakers. After purchasing large tracts of land for farming, the Quakers immediately set aside and forewent farming on about one-third of that land to protect their water supply from contamination. This idea spread throughout Costa Rica with the help of the Quakers, eventually leading to the formation of nationally protected forest areas, including the cloud forests of Monteverde. Thus, the Costa Rican ecotourism industry would not be where it is today were it not for the influence of Quakers and other North American immigrants.

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