Land use practices and environmental awareness go hand in hand. It was very interesting for me to walk around the farm and notice how they were aiming to close the energy loop in an way possible. Everything feeds something else.
1. The Closed Loop System
a. De pulped coffee
When the coffee cherries are picked and processed, the outer skin is still left containing just waiting to decompose. If cherries were to just decompose on their own, the material would be too acidic to be put back into the ground. So, they add some worms to the heap and allow feeding time. After a few weeks of the hot bed of cherry/worm tango, the matter is moved into the area where all other organic material is stored.
b. Goat Manure
The goats are always in pandemonium and therefore always eating. When it is time to clean their little rooms, all the manure is added to the coffee skins and organic matter in order to produce super rich fertilizer. There are three stages of the fertilizer.
First, the goat manure, organic matter and coffee pulp is mixed together. After a few weeks the internal heat is too great and the compost needs to be mixed and moved to the second stage.
Second, the compost begins to decrease in size and increase in nutrients. Until finally…
Last stage, the compost has had its time to decompose and cool down. This material is rea
dy to be used as fertilizer all over the farm… no need for chemicals.
There are three lovely pigs on the farm. I did not get around to naming them but they were all very nice.
The good thing about these pigs is that they eat even more than the goats and produce a lot of waste full of methane.
Soooo what is the smart thing to do? Catch the methane and create a biodigestor to create energy! This energy is what was used to light the fire that boiled to water for the coffee everyone drank. Mmmm.
d. Reclaimed Wood in the Learning Center
When it came time to have a space for visitors to sit down and talk for awhile, Life Monteverde decided to revamp the chicken coop and make it into a learning center. All of the wood used to create the windows, tables, chairs and counter tops came from the farm. The wife of Guillermo, Ana did mosaic pieces on the floor and walls and sells some of her artisan crafts in the space. There are plenty of skylights and windows and is just the perfect place to talk about the seed to cup process. I must say.
e. Veggie Farming
There is a lovely veggie patch where just the right amount of staple crops are growing. Lettuce, onions, carrots and cilantro are managed by the staff and then sold at the local Saturday market. Nothing beats working on the farm and eating the food that comes from it.
Here is an interesting concept… Monteverde had not seen plastic in their community until the 1960s! It was an agricultural economy that did not have the needs to bring in things from the other parts of Costa Rica or the world. Tourism being the communities largest economic sector brought in both the negative consequences of plastic such as littering but also allowed for the area to have money for road pavement and school systems.
3. Coffee Plant Orientation
The farm has acquired and set up plots of land over the years to grow coffee and because of this there is not one way that the plants are nestled into the ground. Which is great. In areas where plants are growing at an incline, terracing is used. In other areas where the land is flat, poly-cropping is practiced and many areas have shade grown coffee. Wind barriers are also created from trees and taller plants which helps keep pests out of the plants and hopefully prevents the spread of any disease.