The farm, as I would describe it is a grueling lifestyle but a rewarding one. Because most of the work of the farm is done the harder (but more sustainable) way, there is much more hard labor that must be done at the farm. Furthermore, because they don’t just use a cash crop, their business is less profitable in the short term. Farming is already a not very profitable business (on a small scale side like Don Guiermore). However, Don Guillermo often talked about how amazing it is to reap the rewards of their farming. Being able to eat the food they produce, reuse all their supplies (which in return lessens the cost), and see the positive effects their methods have on the soil, environment and their own crop
A major challenge that is facing Life Monteverde is climate change. With what sometimes feels like an unstoppable force, the ‘natural’ methods of Don Guillermo cannot help curve the changing on the environment in Monteverde as it makes growing condition harder for Coffee. He mentioned their new irrigation system they had installed for the increasing dry season within the mountains. Irrigation is incredibly wasteful of water resources and is usually frowned upon in sustainable agriculture. This puts Life Monteverde between a rock and hard place. They need the farm to continue their work and practice, but need to adapt the environment in order to get the products.
Another great example of this is their continued use of pesticides. Try as they might to be pesticide and herbicide free, they still face troubles brought upon them by bad practices of other farmers. Don Guillermo mentioned how they have used pesticides in the past 10 years to get rid of African Grass. A plant brought over that grows incredibly fast and is great for cattle ranching. However, its invasive and competes with the coffee plants.
As mentioned above, you can see that the joy from this kind of lifestyle is the output. As seen with much conservation, the joy isn’t an instantaneous rush of adrenaline. It’s the continued enjoyment of nature and all it has to offer. Its about the joy of getting to pass along the beauty that you experience. When we were at the farm today, and all of us, without prompt, gravitated towards and guava tree and immediately began to climb it. Climbing a tree can be seen as such a mundane moment in ones life, however this moment really spoke to me. It was the idea that we were getting to enjoy a tree that had been there for over 80 years, and that this tree would continue to pass that joy for many years to come.
If I were related to a Tiko Farmer, I would hope that I would end up much like Don Guillermo. With the strong connection I already feel towards nature and a desire to protect it. I would want to work in conservation. I hope that path would lead me to a path maybe as a tour guide at a national park, or teaching environmental science to local farmers. I would dedicate my life to making Costa Rica a better place, not for tourist or myself but to let nature reclaim and thrive once again.