The life of a Tico farmer is quite different from that of a farmer in the United States. As we toured Don Guillermo’s coffee farm on our second day here in Monteverde, it became clear just how challenging yet rewarding it can be to be a coffee farmer in Costa Rica. The life of a Tico farmer is challenging for a few reasons. First, the success of their farm is highly dependent on uncontrollable aspects such as weather, insects, and the natural growing process of their specific crop. However, in the case of Don Guillermo, his experience has allowed him to overcome some of these obstacles in order to preserve his farm and make it as profitable as possible. Another challenge being a Costa Rican farmer is the decreasing labor market for the career of farming. As technology increases and the economy changes, farming is not necessarily the most attractive industry to join. An example of this is clearly seen on coffee farms in Monteverde. With Costa Rica’s increase in dependency on tourism, specifically in Monteverde, coffee farming is becoming less profitable. This can be observed in Don Guillermo’s life as his children are branching out into different fields of work rather than continuing the family legacy on the farm. One last challenge faced by Tico farmers is competition. Don Guillermo has the competition of dozens of coffee farms across the nations including Doka, one of the largest coffee producers in Central America. With limited space and a limited labor supply, it can be difficult being a coffee farmer in Monteverde.
On the other hand, the life of a coffee farmer can also be very rewarding. This does not necessarily mean financially rewarding, rather it can be rewarding in the sense of happiness. Many Costa Rican farmers, such as Don Guillermo, receive their happiness solely from the fact that they are contributing to the country’s sustainability and helping the environment. For many Ticos, it is less about living a wealthy life and more about living a meaningful and purposeful life. Coffee and other similar farms are many times passed down from generation to generation and simply continuing that legacy is enough to create joy and happiness in the Tico farmers’ lives.
To continue the topic of sustainability, many farmers use certain engineering techniques accompanied by various technologies in order to preserve the environment. An example of this can be seen on Don Guillermo’s coffee farm. When considering engineering and technology, many envision the use of high-tech machines or computers. However, on Don Guillermo’s farm he uses forest engineering in order to strategically plant trees to form a wind breaker for the coffee plants. In addition to this, the farm takes advantage of internship projects such as a system of collecting methane and a bike for shredding plants to feed the livestock. Clever yet simple technology such as these allow for cheap yet productive activities all across the farm. Ultimately, Costa Rican farm may not be as flashy and innovative as those found in the United States, but they use their resources wisely wile maintaining a happy lifestyle and a sustainable environment.