I have never appreciated sustainable farms more! Today, we toured Life Monteverde, a sustainable farm that houses a wide array of crops and animals. Here, we met with two Tico farmers, Don Guillermo and Jerson, who illustrated life on the farm and how they have implemented their initiatives over the years. Life, in Life Monteverde, stands for Low Impact For Earth, and it shows. The moment I hopped off the bus, I was surrounded by the birds’ calls and lush, green crops as far as the eye could see. By prioritizing sustainability, the local estate absorbs additional costs to execute innovative ideas, produce organic crops, and accommodate worker housing, just to name a few. Both Don Guillermo and Jerson are so passionate about the work they do and sharing it with students locally and internationally, which made me feel more connected to Life Monteverde.
Not only do the Tico farmers give educational tours, but they also work on the daily operations of the farm. Jerson first mentioned the compost recipe they use to help fertilize the crops to limit the pesticides used on the coffee plants; it is comprised of the coffee husk, molasses, manure, microorganisms, fungus, and worms. Instead of using completely synthetic fertilizer, this fragrance-free mixture helps to keep the integrity of the plant in the long-term. Moreover, Life Monteverde’s coffee pickers are exclusively Nicaraguan migrants escaping the environment of their country. Therefore, one of the farm’s sustainable initiatives is to provide housing and food for their employees and their families to maintain good worker relations. The farm also incorporates student ideas such as a “biodigestor,” which captures methane gas in the pigs’ manure and powers the fire for cooking. But a sustainable farm isn’t always so perfect. With climate change, they have to learn to adapt to the environment; fungi are more prevalent in the crops and rainfall is less abundant. However, with their successful preservation efforts, I am certain they will continue to overcome these obstacles.
During our walking tour with Jerson, he explained that he loves the conservation efforts of Life Monteverde, even if the rest of Monteverde has shifted more towards tourism. The estate has one foot in sustainability and the other in educational ecotourism to keep up with modern life, and is actually planning to build a lodge on the farm! However, the heart of Life Monteverde is in their sustainable farm, which could not be done without the engineering and technology they have. Whether it is through the methane gas collection or a bike to chop up the goats’ meal, engineering contributes a large part to their core values.
Spending the entire day at Life Monteverde and the local school nearby made it difficult to leave Don Guillermo and Jerson. After our tour of the estate and the delicious lunch, we traveled to the school where many Nicaraguan workers send their children, and we painted their wooden playground. I grew connected to Life Monteverde and nature, and I am grateful for the experience to help out Escuela Los Tornos and leave an impact on the community. I have so much respect for the work they do, and it makes me wonder what efforts the United States could do. Maybe I’ll start my sustainable journey by composting or growing a small-scale garden!