After waking up to the sounds of tropical birds singing in the trees, and a light breeze blowing through the room, I began preparing for the first day of farm visits. Thoughts were rushing through my head as I wondered exactly how we could help these organic farmers. After finishing my morning routine and eating a delicious breakfast of fresh tropical fruit, our group departed.

The drive was not long, but it was more beautiful than words can describe. As we drove, we could see the Turrialba volcano towering high above us. It was awesome to see with its white column of steam and smoke magnificently contrasting against the deep blue sky.  In front of us the roads curved sharply around the mountain, and we weaved to and fro in between cars and people in an effort to reach our destination in a timely manner. 

Upon arrival to our first farm, we met Flory and her husband Edgar who own three different farms. The one we visited was their organic farm which produced coffee, bananas, vegetables, tangerines, and various other plants and animals.

Edgar began by showing us some of the land which he had turned organic 15 years ago, and he explained the difference in the coffee and banana plants. Next, he took us to a portion of his land that had always been organic. Even though he had planted coffee on both plots of land at the same time, the difference was astounding. The coffee planted on the soil which had always been organic was twice as large, and had many more coffee beans than the coffee planted on soil that once had been exposed to inorganic farming.  He explained that healthy soil meant healthy plants. This is something that we could learn from in the states.

Edgar also explained many of his other enterprises. He took us to the building where he is making organic fertilizer. He said this was a great expense because Costa Rica has so much rain that it is imperative that structures are built to hold the compost.  Within the structure, he has a machine that grinds up waste from the animals and banana trimmings, as well as other plant matter. He then allows the matter to decompose. Annually, their farm uses almost 5 tons of organic compost.

Besides the composter, Edger has currently built a bio digester and his animal facilities all have drains that run into the digester. The Costa Rican government has been promoting these structures to decrease water pollution and he has taken advantage of their incentives.

After seeing the farm, I am extremely impressed by the amount of money, effort, and shear fortitude that it takes to raise “crops” in Costa Rica. The average farmer will only make about $7,000 annually, while the cost of land is in between 5 and 10 thousand dollars an acre, and most of the land must be cleared using a machete. However, in spite of obstacles, these farmers have a great attitude and they are extremely receptive to the suggestions and ideas we have to offer.

-J.W.

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