Volunteering at Life Monteverde
As you might remember yesterday, the students got to enjoy a late breakfast at 8 am! Our day started off with them getting to choose their favourite of 4 options for breakfast: all delicious! They even had a half hour to go get changed and ready for the day before heading off to our next volunteer destination, Life Monteverde.
Life Monteverde is an association of 12 families from the Monteverde region in Costa Rica. Their mission is to produce, protect and educate. Their approach is to practice sustainability and attract people to get involved in educational programs to reduce environmental impact on the earth. Suffice to say; our group learned a huge amount over the course of the day!
Upon our arrival, we met the staff members, Daniel and Jaelson (a forestry engineer) who led us on a tour of their farmland. It was 42 acres, so we didn’t see the whole thing! We were able to get a great overview of their coffee production, conservation efforts, organic agriculture and low environmental impact systems.
After that, we broke into four groups and each group was assigned to a specific sustainability aspect of the farm: Water, Social, Forest and Crops. They had to audit the farm and talk about the strengths and weaknesses of sustainability for each of these categories. They went out and did field work, had to organize their ideas onto a flow chart or anchor chart. They did all of this while enjoying fresh coffee and fruit directly from the farm! Each group then presented their findings and our two guides were able to answer and respond to all of the questions and critiques and discuss where they’re hoping to grow with what the students pointed out. We then broke for a delicious lunch direct from the farm of fresh salad, refried beans, fried rice with chicken, fresh iced tea and incredibly delicious gluten-free banana bread.
In the afternoon we split into two teams. Team one travelled across the farm to focus on irrigating crops. These students had to fill canteens with water, which they carried on an uphill hike to water the layered crops. Students took a while to find their stride and figure out how much they could carry, but in the end, they figured out what worked best for them. They definitely got a great work out!
Group two focused on creating a mulched soil. It was a mix of soil and coffee waste from the onsite manufacturing process. They had to water it down and turn the soil for 30-45 minutes to obtain the proper consistency. After they made the perfect soil for seedlings, the group packed seedling packages full of soil into bags that were ready to put a coffee plant in! They created over 100. A significant highlight for the students was probably the kittens!
To culminate the day we had a coffee tasting at Café de Monteverde and the students were able to try five main blends of coffees that they produce. They were able to learn about the production process of coffee and test out the tastes. They then annihilated the entire gift shop: look out family and friends, you’ve got some incredible gifts coming your way! Including coffee candles, coffee body scrubs, coffee beans and coffee moisturizer! One student had never tried coffee before…and ended up purchasing 8 bags!
With a bit of time to change, I led the group into town for the first time. They had a chance to go grocery shopping for snacks, pick up some souvenirs, have another sip of coffee or save their appetites until dinner. We came back as a group and enjoyed a filling and creamy pasta with chicken and vegetables. After dinner, we all went as a group right back downtown to the Treehouse where we enjoyed live music and smoothies, along with being in a restaurant COMPLETELY built around a tree!
We packed up our bags, the students organized their donations for the children tomorrow and headed to bed. Lights out, as we have another day full of fulfilling work tomorrow.