Life Monteverde is a family owned farm and coffee plantation that truly embodies sustainability. L.I.F.E in the name stands for Low Impact For Earth; this serves as a guide by which they have modeled their farm, and life after. The people at Life Monteverde consistently go the extra mile to implement more eco-friendly practices to reduce environmental impact.
Rather than focusing their company around profit or mass quantities of production, like the other producers I visited, Life Monteverde has sacrificed size for quality and preservation. For example, about half of their estate is filled with coffee plants, these plants are organized into small sections, split up by strategically placed forests, which make up the other half of the land, along with animal pens and a vegetable garden. While the farm could almost double their coffee production if they cut down the remaining forest, the preservation of the trees provides a mutually beneficial relationship. The forest acts as a barrier for the coffee plants; it blocks wind, distracts bugs, and prevents diseases or fungi from spreading between the sections of coffee. If one section of coffee is infected by Broca (an insect that feeds on the interior of coffee beans), the forest would act as an insulator, preventing the infestation from spreading throughout the entire estate.
To minimize use of harmful chemicals, the farmers must find creative solutions to emerging problems. In order to avoid pesticides and herbicides in the vegetable garden, the farm has found innovative alternatives to overcome challenges. The surrounding forest distracts insects from entering the garden and destroying the crops. Citronella was also planted in the end rows of the garden to ward off mosquitos. In one case of persistent animals getting in the garden, the farmer’s daughter explained that they came up with the idea of coating the plant leaves in a mixture of extremely hot peppers, which ultimately turned the animals away. To maximize land space, some vegetables were also grown in raised beds, which means they are suspended off the ground, and can be picked quicker, as there is no need to dig. This tactic of raised beds also helps prevent flooding at the bottom of the garden, which is sloped downward. These are just a few of the challenges that Tico farmers could face at any time. The farmers must always be ready to adapt and innovate in order to save their products from unforeseen issues.
What amazed me the most about this humble farm was the pride that each worker had when teaching about the land and practices. Everyone at the farm works extremely hard to maintain the land, and leave any natural resource better off than when they found it. The farmers at Life Monteverde work tirelessly to not only ensure that their farm is sustainable; they also aim to educate surrounding farms and visitors to the community, like us, about sustainable practices and how we can help. The farmers displayed passion for every aspect of the farm, from conditions of the animals, to reforesting trodden down land in an abandoned neighboring farm, to roasting coffee in micro batches to ensure near perfection.
The amount of respect I have for everyone at Life Monteverde is indescribable. I learned so much in the mere few hours that I visited, and will take home, and put into use, many lessons. I would not have what it takes if I were in their shoes, but I wish them the best. Costa Rica, and the food and drink industries in general, needs more farms like Life Monteverde.