The life Don Guillermo is constant business. He and his 11 relatives run and operate the farm. However, he and two other of his relatives compose the three full time workers of the farm. The other nine owners are part-time workers that come together once in a while when a large business decision has to be made. The three on the farm are allowed to make the minor day to day decisions or as they see necessary. Don Guillermo has to do a lot of work, he is almost a hybrid of a picker, employee, and owner. For example, these days plantains and bananas need to be picked, bushes maintained, and tours need to be given. The farm has four full time employees that help maintaining the plants. For a farm larger than 75 acres, there is a lot of work and responsibility put on Don Guillermo’s shoulders.
The major challenge Life Monteverde faces is competition. Many larger coffee companies can expel the smaller coffee players by lowering the prices and smothering out the smaller business that will go under if they lower prices. How Life Monteverde counters that is diversifying their business. They do not just sell beans, they have many sources of revenue throughout their company. There are various plants they produce and crop including many fruits, and vegetables. Another obstacle that Life Monteverde ran into was their allies ditching them five years ago for the tourism industry. Many smalls farms that used to pool resources with Life Monteverde are now pursuing a more attractive, less labor intensive industry in tourism. Life Monteverde was able to stay afloat and true to those roots because of their close knit hierarchy. Don Guillermo said the 12 person board is very effective in making decisions and that is what held them together throughout that rough riff in their relationship with the other local farms. The third challenge, the most important, and the most obvious is to keep the company afloat. There are two problems under this category: Family, and making enough product. At the moment none of Don Guillermo’s three daughters have no interest in having a part in the farm. Only four kids in the next generation is interested in having a part in the future of the farm. Four people is certainly not enough to obtain the same amount of production it has now. He did have an idea that would allow each person having their own specific part of the company rather than everyone having a large portion of the farm to control. The problem here is if the family does not want to Carry the farm, the ownership would change and the future of the far would be in jeopardy. The other part of keeping the farm afloat is sustaining a profit. Now that they are independent, they are not able to pool resources and makes their ability to gain profit even more difficult. The farm cannot sustain itself at the market price of coffee. The market price is about $118 per 100 pounds of coffee, Life Monteverde needs about $2 per pound to sustain their practice. They are heavily dependent on the tours to get the surplus of money. With the tour money, coffee money, other crop money, and their practices of sustainability, Life Monteverde is doing well.
Luckily for the wellbeing of the farm, Don Guillermo loves what he does. During the tour of the plantation, he lit up at the sight of every new “exhibit” we walked by. He was proud as a peacock to show off his farm to his guests. Don Guillermo gets happy when he has people in his farm. I can tell he loves what he does because of how well he conducts his tours. He does a suburb job of keeping everyone engaged with his stories and making sure everyone feels included. He doesn’t just talk about the coffee process, he talks about helping young kids find their way in life. Whenever inquired about his farm he got excited that we were showing interest and paying attention. This tour was exponentially better than Britt and Doca because of the passion that Don Guillermo poured into his presentation.
Technology is what keeps this farm kickin’. They’re various methods of putting one thing to multiple uses allows Life Monteverde to be sustainable. Their technology is far from modern, but they use the land to their advantage. For example, the manure works for many things: fertilizer, heating the house, cooking, and other gas uses. The farmers have a big bag of poop, that poop releases methane that travels through pipes all throughout the farm. That idea is an excellent example of how this small farm uses everything it can gets and recycles all of its waste. Another very smart way of using the the land to their advantage is cross breeding the plants. If Life Monteverde only produced coffee, the pesticides would destroy the plants. However, with any other breeds of plants, the bugs are not to take over a single crop or specific place of the farm. The ideas are very simple, yet very effective. The versatility of their land creates an advantage many farms do not have and sets Life Monteverde up for a long run of success.