Life Lessons in Monteverde

Today we visited Life Monteverde, a farm high up in the mountains of Monteverde. After a bus ride on dirt roads along cliffs with no guard rail, we were greeted at the farm by Don Guillermo, one of the farmers at Life Monteverde. Life Monteverde grows and roasts coffee, but they also have a full farm with animals and other crops as well. They focus on sustainable farming and they have education programs to teach tourists and other farmers about sustainability.

For farmers like Don Guillermo, the farm is their livelihood and they are very invested in all aspects of the farm. Don Guillermo explained to us that while tourism has taken off in Monteverde, they don’t want to focus solely on tourism. That’s why they have also branched out into educational programming and creating a stable source of food for the community to eat. On our tour of the property with another farmer, it was very apparent that having a good relationship with nature makes him happy. While he has extensive technical knowledge about growing coffee and other crops, he also made sure to talk to us about his appreciation for nature during our tour, even taking a few minutes to talk to us about how meditating in nature is good for the soul. I saw how important it is for Tico farmers to be knowledgeable, excited about, and engaged in every aspect of their farms and their land.

Farmers in Costa Rica are very much influenced by the changing economy. As tourism has overtaken agriculture in the Costa Rican economy, it is now necessary for farmers to adapt to this change. For the farmers at Life Monteverde, this has translated into extensive educational programming. Although this programming is free for local students and farmers, visitors must pay, which creates another source of income for the farm. Don Guillermo shared with us that he has a passion for teaching people about sustainability, and that he believes strongly in the power of the outdoors as a classroom. It seemed like the farm also has a strong sense of community. It is relatively small, which contributes to the familial atmosphere. It was very refreshing to experience this type of community where the people are close to each other and close to nature, especially in a modern world where this is not common at all.

Lastly, engineering and technology have an extremely important role in creating a modern sustainable farm. During our tour, we saw numerous devices designed by students who visited the farm in order to make the farm more sustainable. Among them were a biodigestor used to harness methane gas as an energy source and a bicycle mechanism used to chop up food for the farm animals. We also learned about the farm’s specific compost mix and microorganisms that they use to cultivate high quality soil for the plants, and during lunch our napkins and food waste were collected for waste reduction purposes. Life Monteverde is a great example of how farms are using technology to contribute to a more sustainable way of living and working. I was very impressed with how much the farmers care about bettering their lives, the lives of others, and the earth through sustainability.

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