Sustainable farming has never been an easy task for there are limitless details to take into account and Don Guillermo, a Tico farmer in Monteverde, showed us some of these challenges today. Not only does Don practice sustainable farming at the Life Monteverde farm, but he also spends his time educating other farmers, students, etc. about the benefits of doing this type of farming.
One of the main challenges farmers like Don must deal with is changing the current mindset of the locals. Sustainable farming and working to preserve the natural beauty at the same time is very challenging and pretty expensive when compared to traditional farming. So the challenge in these rural communities is demonstrating and promoting the long term benefits of these sustainable practices instead of the short term benefits of traditional farming where you remove a lot of the natural wildlife. Another challenge that they face is competing against the larger coffee producers in Costa Rica. At Life Monteverde, 50% of that farm is forest, both primary and secondary, because one of their objectives is preserving the nature around them. They have less space to grow the coffee trees and it is ten times harder to compete against the large companies that turn their entire farm into the coffee trees. So, it is a challenge for farmers such as Don because they have to think of inventive ways to work together with other farmers or new ways to market their products so they can compete.
Farmers like Don seem to get happiness from teaching others about their passion for the environment and their culture of sustainable living. They aren’t into farming to become rich but to preserve an important part of their life and their ancestry. Educating others and spreading their knowledge is a source of happiness for many Tico farmers like Don because knowing that one tour might spark a passion for sustainability is invaluable to them. However, I think farmers are mostly positively affected by modern life. Not only does modern technology make it easier to spread the word about the farms and the sustainable practices, but it also makes tourism in rural areas such as Monteverde easier. The modern world certainly makes it easier for new engineering ideas to be shared when you are creating and/or improving a sustainable farm. The Life Monteverde farm even has a biodigestor, made by an engineering intern, that is used to extract methane gas from pig manure.
Sustainable farming does more than just help the environment; it truly impacts and uplifts the local workers, the surrounding communities, and the other families that seasonally work on the coffee farms. At its core, sustainable farming is about pursuing ways of living that will allow the future generations to grow and exist and giving them an environment that they can do that in. If we continue destroying our environment, all of our people, culture, and ways of life will be gone; and, so, we need to be educated right now on ways we can reverse the damage. Don Guillermo and everyone at Life Monteverde truly are leaders in sustainable farming and environmental education and there are so many lessons you can learn from them on how to help the planet. They care so much about the work that they are doing and the impact they have and it is going to affect the Monteverde community positively for generations to come!