Today we visited a small coffee farm, Monte Verde Life, which grew out of a collection fo family farmers and has expanded its business to include tours of their farms and education about sustainability. Throughout the day, it was clear to see that the company was committed to sustainability. They protect the biodiversity of the region by only using half of the land on their farm to grow crops, while leaving the other half as forest. Life Monte Verde composts as much as possible and use as little pesticides, fungicides, and artificial fertilizers as possible. They try to minimize their consumption of recourses, which was perhaps best exemplified by the bicycle powered machine they used to cut goat food. With that machine, they were able to repurpose a bicycle and parts from a car to create a machine that efficiently cuts the goats food does not need to be powered by electricity. Pig manure is used to produce and store methane, which can then help power some devices on the farm. Life Monte Verde grows a lot of food on their farm, which they sell at a subsidized rate to their workers on the farm. This limits the amount of fuel used to transport the food to their isolated farm. Growing food for workers also demonstrates how they view sustainability as being more than just about the environment, but also about people and the economy. By selling food to workers at a subsidized rate and offering other benefits to the migrant Nicaraguans who work on the farm during harvest season, the company ensures its workers get a fair wage and working conditions. This demonstrates a commitment to social sustainability. Life Monte Verde is able to support all these workers because of the income they get from educational and tourist groups, an example of a sustainable economic model.
Being around the employees of the farm, it was evident that they took the ideals of their company seriously. On our tour of the farm, our guide had us stop in a forested area on the farm and close our eyes and appreciate the scerenity of the forest. He was passionate about preserving that sense of peace so that it could be accessible to everyone. He also emphasized how important it was not to disrupt the delicate balance of the ecosystem that so many people and animals are dependent on. Since he had essentially committed his life to working on the farm and giving tours, I got the sense that all the employees at the farm were very genuine and sincere people committed to making a better world. It seems they made their farm sustainable because it is what they truly believe is right, not just because it is a trendy and cool thing, which is kind of the impressions I got from cafe Britt.
Some amount of engineering factored into the growing and roasting processes utilized at Life Monte Verde. They have been testing different methods for creating compost for many years and have developed an effective strategy utilizing microorganisms to quickly create compost. Different strains of arabe coffe have been grown over the years to test and analyze the quality of the product they create. Trial and error was used to determine the ideal roasting time and temperature for the different types of coffee roasts Life Monte Verde offers. Life Monte Verde has kept track of all of theses tests and continually rolls out new ones to ensure they are delivering the highest quality product with the most sustainable practices.
Visiting Life Monte Verde has made me more optimistic about the ability of communities to work together to create a better life for future generations.