As mentioned in my previous post, Monteverde came from humble beginnings as an area of agriculture established by a group of Quakers in the 50’s. The community initially focused on forest preservation and the production of dairy; however, an increasingly large portion of the locals have since drifted from Monteverde’s roots, transitioning into the booming business of tourism.
Life Monteverde, a coffee plantation layered into the mountains of Monteverde, remains one of few authentic and environmentally-aware, family run coffee businesses in the area. The plantation is run from the heart. Workers of Life Monteverde are truly committed to practicing sustainable efforts not in order to make money, but in order to protect their home and educate future generations. The company hasn’t fallen subject to the business of tourism, but rather has become more active to ensure tourism doesn’t ruin the community around them.
The plantation is extremely self-sustaining. Half of the land is occupied by coffee plants, while the other half consists of trees, vegetables, and animals. The animals are free to roam around, and are fed using freshly ground up vegetable crops. The animal waste is then processed into compost, which is used around the farm as a natural fertilizer.
The trees around the plantation help to protect the plants from flooding, wind, and pests. The weather in Monteverde is a lot more unpredictable than regions in the central valley, therefore farmers must be prepared for unexpected conditions such as longer dry seasons, more rain than usual, or the spread of different fungi. The sections of forest can prevent the fungi from spreading to other regions of coffee plants across the plantation. Additionally, the trees distract bugs from invading the vegetables and coffee plants. The vegetable crops are also planted within the sections of coffee plants in order to help maintain levels of nitrogen and nutrients within the soil. In these ways, the farmers of Life Monteverde have found natural ways to overcome challenges presented by the difficult location while implementing techniques of forest preservation.
While all of the plantation’s sustainable efforts are incredibly impressive, perhaps the most impressive part of all of the company is the importance placed on education. Today we received one of the most in-depth and carefully detailed tours. Our guide explained each and every thought that went into each decision. Every aspect of the process explained came from a place of pure passion for both the business and the community’s future. When asked why he chose to work within the farming industry, one the guides answered the following:
“A lawyer you may need once in a lifetime. A doctor, maybe once a year or so. But farmers? You need agriculture maybe 6 times each day.”
Coming from such a large country as the US, I think often times we take farmers for advantage, as we rarely see where our food comes from at all. It’s difficult to understand how much work actually goes each and every item available in supermarkets. We need to be more educated as a population on the importance of healthy, sustainable agriculture so we can truly appreciate the hard work of passionate, authentic workers like those of Life Monteverde.