By Benjamin Zack
MONTEVERDE, Costa Rica — There is a section of the hillside above Santa Elena, Costa Rica where the air is so thick with the aroma of cilantro that it becomes difficult to focus on what else is happening around you. For Orlando Trejos, this smell is the future of agriculture.
The rich scent comes from one of the greenhouses on Trejos’s hydroponic farm. In addition to the herb that is so popular in local kitchens, other greenhouses line the hill full of lettuce, tomatoes, basil and 14 other herbs and vegetables.
After a lifetime of working in agriculture and conservation, Trejos began farming with hydroponics in 2005. He now sees it as the next step forward in the delicate balance between preserving the area’s rich biodiversity and feeding the hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents in the Monteverde region.