Being able to talk with Don Guillermo and see his lifestyle was very interesting. What struck me immediately was how proud he was of his farm. It was clear that it took a lot of work to get it to the point it is today and he and his employees took great pride in showing it off to students. His life was very different than ours and of many other Costa Ricans in that his line of work required great amount of knowledge of farming coffee and also a good deal of planning to ensure a successful crop. In many of our jobs if we have a bad day or make some mistake it can normally be sorted out with a quick email. For Don Guillermo however, a mistake one day could cost him an entire year’s worth of coffee.
Although Don’s life was very simple and not as high tech as what we see in the United States, he was very much connected to the modern world. He talked about Monsanto and how they dominate the pesticide business, I knew prior to this that Monsanto was a dominant agribusiness company in the United States that distributed seeds but I did not know their reach extended to Costa Rica as well. Being at the mercy of a large company like this for your pesticides would be extremely frustrating and challenging.
It was incredible to see how they were working to limit their carbon footprint on their own farm. Many of their past projects were simple yet very effective such as the methane gas collection from the pigs and how it is used to cook food. They were also setting goals both, personally and as an organization, to limit their use of pesticides. Finally our guide explained to us that even if we don’t go into the agriculture business we can work to reduce our carbon footprint wherever we are.