The life of a Tico farmer seems to be very scheduled and remains consistent on a yearly rotation. Even if there are irregularities for the weather, Tico famers seem to know how to handle these in order to produce the highest yield of crops. Tico farmers live off most of their own yield and co-depend on each other for any crops that they do not grow themselves. In Monteverde specifically, they try to keep as much of produce local, however, there are some cases where it is cheaper to outsource and import the produce, hindering local economies and family owned farms as well as moving money outside the country. Many of them get up with the sun to start their days in the field, tending to individual plants that are newly sprouted, pruning older crops to rejuvenate its potential, or replanting crops so they are grown interdependently.
Their life appears to be very simple. Working every day to tend to the farms and other produce they have is very important. They start at sunrise and do not stop until sundown because they want to use as much of the light as they can to tend to a majority of the fields. On the coffee plantations, they also use their time to try and create new coffees that are genetically altered to naturally repel insects by mixing two different types of beans. They also roast on the farm and move the beans elsewhere to be dried. This allows for a lot of interdependence on other local farmers which helps each family independently thrive and know there will be a consistent business.
Many of the farmers also face challenges with the other neighboring farms. Each group has their own way of managing a farm, but since they are all in the same area, they still utilize the same terrain. One of the challenges Life Monteverde said they face is with pesticides and rain falling down the mountain. Although Life Monteverde tries not to use pesticides and herbicides, or at least keep the use to a minimum, other farmers who use those products at higher altitudes contaminate the soil and rain that travels from the higher parts of the mountain downwards carries these pesticides to other farms. Life Monteverde has also been trying to find new ways of getting rid of pests naturally to stop them form evolving with the development of pesticides, however, natural ways can be harder to manage and takes up extra space and time to maintain. Finally, the farms have to be contentious of natural life and the climate changes because with global warming, many of the plants need to evolve to the new environment or else they would not survive.
In terms of Life Monteverde, I think what keeps them happy is keeping the environment in mind. Although they do use a lot of resources to farm and cultivate the land, they also do a lot try and maintain as much of the original land as possible or replant trees, fruit, and other plants to aid the growth of their farms to minimize the amount of chemicals in the area. I also think it is important for them to educate as many people as possible to develop an understanding of the importance of these farms and to recognize the amount of labor that goes into them. Many people take their food for granted and never think where it comes from or the amount of time it takes to have the products created. I think going on this journey opened my eyes to really see the amount of labor that goes into the process and appreciate what I can get in a grocery store, there are even some things I’m jealous of, like how they can get fresh produce and know where it comes from. Beside the environment and education, it is also important to keep the business within the family. Now, many of the businesses are run by outside corporations who do not understand the values of the land nor the amount of work it takes. When the business is within the family, there is more love and commitment to the crops and to the products so their overall value increases. It also allows the customers to know who exactly benefits from those crops and understand the time and dedication. Also, with families, the businesses usually have stronger connections with each other and help more people whereas corportae owned companies will mechanize the process, decreasing the value.
If I were in their shoes, the only thing I would try to change is their marketing of the product. Before coming to Costa Rica, I did not know the amount of work, love, and commitment put into a single cup of coffee. I also did not know about Monteverde’s coffee production. I feel like if more people knew about the amount of work and passion that happens behind the scenes in Life Monteverde, like what we experienced in visiting the farms, they could increase their sales and benefit more from their products since it is harder to sell locally. In doing this, it will also expand the outside world’s knowledge of coffee and further educate the population. If marketed correctly, I feel like there would be a strong allure to a family owned farm who goes the extra mile to help the environment will be better recognized by other people. Even if there was an increased demonstration of community service and giving back to the earth, people can recognize that what goes into a cup of coffee is not just beans, but also what is done to the land and habitat around it. Having people come to the farm to help plant trees or even explaining what they did to the other local farms who have destroyed their own land, made me feel more connected to the farm and made me want to help they help our earth. I think it is important for more people to understand this, and in doing this, it will help them as a company, family, and draw attention away from the “excursion” part of Monteverde and possibly bring some people back to the root reason for why they are there.