Today we visited Life Monteverde, a sustainability program located on a family run farm in Monteverde, Costa Rica. The owner of the farm is Don Guillermo, who grew up on a farm in Monteverde and now co-runs the program with his siblings. The life of a tico farmer is a simple one. They focus on growing what they need and protecting the land. They seem happy when sharing the fruits (and veggies) of their land with others and teaching them about their profession as they did with us today.
This brings about several challenges. One of these is the competition with bigger plantations. Smaller farms have to figure out how to compete with the larger plantations that have more in terms of money, connections, and resources. Another problem for tico farmers is climate change. The current state of global warming has affected the growing season for the crops shifting the period where the crop is ripe either earlier or later. This leads to unpredictable yield which affects how much of a product a farm produces and can sell.
In today’s technology focused society farmers have learned to incorporate engineering and technology to improve their farming practices. One example of this at Life Monteverde is the food shredder made from recycled parts. This machine is used to chop up and mix the food for the goats so they get an even mixture of nutrients. Another example of engineering in use on the farm is the windbreakers, long stretches of trees planted to protect the coffee plants from the high winds of the mountains as well as the spread of disease. One final example of technology implemented on the farm is the rainwater collection tank which stores rainwater (which there is a lot of in Costa Rica) until it can be used to irrigate the fields in dryer seasons. The use of technology and modern engineering techniques has helped small farms improve their crops, decrease the amount of work needed, and stay competitive with larger plantations.