Chicken and Goats and Pigs… Oh my!

Our last day in the beautiful community of Monteverde turned out to be an incredible experience. This morning I was not so excited to visit a farm because in all honesty, I don’t like farm animals. I’m not the girl who pets every dog, or the one who gives up eating meat to save the animals. I like my dog, and that’s about it. Besides my dislike of smelly animals, I learned a lot at the farm today. We visited Life Monteverde which is a family-owned farm who grows and produces their own coffee. After hearing presentations from Doka and Cafe Britt, I thought I was an expert at the coffee process, but I was very wrong. At Monteverde, I learned how the trees protect the coffee plants, the process of cutting coffee plants, and the methods of an organic farm. Most importantly, I saw how passionate the family and the workers were about their business.

Our day began in the classroom which was an open space connected to a kitchen where two women were preparing our lunch, and I immediately felt at home. Many companies preach how their family-oriented but only today did I see and feel what that means. Their lifestyle seems to be more rooted in the farm and the family than other companies we visited. Our tour guides were the children of the owners, and they talked about their parents ideas and work with such pride. My guide talked about growing up on the farm and referred to the animals as “girls”, and this emphasized how much the farm and the animals are connected to their lives. Also, what was most interesting about our time in the classroom is when they shared why they enjoyed working in agriculture. The main idea they shared was that people need agriculture every day, and they realize how important this field is in life. They feel joy in being able to provide for other people. One of the tour guides had the biggest smile on his face when he answered that questions, and I could see how the farm is more than just a job for these people.

They may have the same laid back attitude as the people in the cities of Costa Rica, but in reality, they do a lot of work. The sons and daughters of the owners don’t do much hands on work, but they talked about all the people that do. Not only do they hire coffee pickers which we had already learned is an intensive job, they need workers to take care of their animals, their garden, their forest, and their roasting facilities. It may be a small farm, but the day to day tasks are very demanding. Also, their biggest challenge comes with being an organic farm. They have to be very innovative in order to protect their crops without using chemical. For example, they use the forest and plants like mint to keep bugs from eating their crops. They also set traps for bugs on the plants instead of spraying pesticides. Being organic is a huge commitment, but they seem to have plenty of ideas in order to avoid these obstacles. Personally, the only thing I would change about this farm is the roasting side of their business. They said that they roast in small quantities, and they have a lot of excess capacity. Since they already have the room, I think they should expand their roasting quantities. They mentioned that marketing is still new to them, so I think that they if they can learn how to successfully market their brand, they’ll be able to roast ad sell more of their own coffee and expand their business.

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