Life Monteverde: Sustainability, Conservation, and Education

Today we visited Café de Monteverde, a family-owned coffee company with a special subsidiary called Life Monteverde that focuses on sustainable agricultural practices. There, we met Guillermo Vargas, or Don Guillermo, one of the main managers of the business whose father founded Café de Monteverde. Don Guillermo, like many other Ticos, must face many challenges as a farmer. To solve those challenges, Don Guillermo and other employees at Café de Monteverde create effective and sustainable solutions to accomplish their goals.

To put it basically, Don Guillermo oversees the activities of the entire farm at Café de Monteverde. Of course, that process is much more complex than it sounds, especially because Don Guillermo’s farm produces much more than just coffee. The company also produces fruits, vegetables, and dairy products to feed the families who own the company as well as many of the coffee pickers they hire. Additionally, there are a variety of farm animals that need to be taken care of including goats, pigs, and chickens. Clearly, Don Guillermo’s daily work life is busy. Not only does he have to watch over all of the crops and animals that he already has, but he also has to control the business side of his farm and engineer new ideas to make the farm as sustainable as possible, since sustainability is one of the company’s core values.

With so many things to keep track of, Don Guillermo faces many challenges. However, there are some challenges where engineering and technology have provided solutions. Some challenges that Don Guillermo faces are making sure that enough coffee is grown, maintaining values of conservation and sustainability, and educating others. Within the challenge of making a sufficient amount of coffee, Don Guillermo must deal with changing weather conditions, hiring enough workers, and using the right types of pesticides to improve the growth of his crops. Picking the right pesticides is also important for maintaining sustainability; Don Guillermo must choose a pesticide that both keeps pesky insects away and allows the surrounding wildlife to remain unaffected by the chemicals in the substance. Through research conducted by the company, Don Guillermo is able to accomplish this. Also, Don Guillermo converts methane produced by the cows on his farm into carbon dioxide and water using a machine created by a company engineer. Separating the compound of methane into its constituents is a part of Life Monteverde’s conservation efforts and is much healthier for the environment than the methane compound. Finally, one of Don Guillermo’s primary personal goals is to educate people, particularly young people, about the benefits of conservation and sustainability efforts so that they can not only appreciate the beauty of the land but also advocate to protect it.

When farmers’ efforts, such as those of Don Guillermo, come to fruition, farmers are pleased with the results. For Don Guillermo, seeing coffee grow and the Café de Monteverde business expand is what he would like for his company, but there are other success factors that he considers rather than just profits. Keeping the business sustainable and focusing on conservation make Don Guillermo feel good about running the company, knowing that he and the company are doing their best in protecting the environment for the next generation. In addition, Don Guillermo prioritizes and loves to educate students about his business and sustainable business practices as an effort to preserve the land for the future. From learning about Don Guillermo’s perspective regarding his coffee farm, I learned a lot about the lifestyle of a Tico farmer and I now know that farming involves much more than just harvesting the farm’s primary crop.


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