While visiting Life Monteverde, we met a Tico farmer, Don Guillermo. Don Guillermo spends his time farming coffee and teaching students and other farmers about sustainability. As a small farmer, he has to compete with larger farms. To compete, he focuses on sustainability and the environmental impact rather than the amount of coffee produced. He uses animal waste that generates methane using a biodigestor to cook food for the workers and students who come and visit. He also composts the animal and food waste for soil fertilizer.
During the tour, he talked about his love for animals. At Life Monteverde, they have goats, chickens, and pigs. The goats are used for milk, the chicken for eggs and meat, and the pigs for methane and meat. He brought up how pigs are very intelligent animals and develop bonds with people who they interact with. But since Don Guillermo knows that they will eventually just be used for meat, he tries to stay away because it makes him sad knowing they’re going to be killed. A stray cat also had babies in their composting container. When he tried to move them, the mother ran away and left all of her babies, which is why one of them stays around the farm.
Small farmers are also affected by modern life and the community around them. The majority of the people around the farm aren’t as concerned with sustainability as they are, which can eventually lead to polluted water and plastic that has washed into the farm. But by bringing students in and giving new ideas, the farm is able to develop and expand their current sustainable practices.
In creating a sustainable farm today, there are a few roles that engineering and technology take on. For example, Life Monteverde uses a biodigestor to generate methane from the animal waste. A biodigestor is a large plastic bag with sediment under water and an space at the top for the methane to collect. Additionally, Life Monteverde also uses a bike device to cut the food for the animals. Someone stands and feeds large plants into the machine while someone is sitting on the bike pedaling. The rotation of the pedal turns a gear which then chops the food, drops it into a large bin, and then is fed to the animals.