The students presented their reporting projects this afternoon at the Monteverde Institute and have recently scattered for some R & R. The presentations went well, and the projects will be posted here over the next few days.
For now, here’s a brief report to give you an idea of the day’s events prior to the presentations.
On our way to our first appointment of the day, we spotted a cow giving birth in a pasture near the road, so we stopped to watch. Nikki Barr, an animal science major with much experience in agriculture, described the process.
We watched mama cow alternately stand and lie down to rest as it tried to work the red-pink package of calf from its hindquarters. We had to leave before the birth.
Just down the road was the diversified farm of Guillermo Vargas, the leader of the project Monteverde LIFE (low impact for the environment). On hearing about the cow, Vargas called the farmer who owned it to let him know.
Then he handed each of us an avocado tree seedling and led us around his farm to teach us about growing pinto beans, vegetables, coffee, goats, chickens and more. We talked sustainable farming in the mountains of Costa Rica and the ways in which nature, agriculture and society are connected.
At one point we stopped to plant the avocado seedlings, which one day will provide much-needed food for the iconic, colorful quetzal, an endangered cloud forest bird. At another point we picked coffee beans.
“Is this all?” he said, wryly, after we had poured all our beans into a single basket, filling it not even a quarter of the way to the top.
Four hours after arriving, we left the Vargas farm reluctantly, wanting to spend more time with him.
Said one of the students: “It seems like we just got here.”
On the way back to town we slowed as we drove past the pasture with the birthing cow, hoping to see its newborn. But mama was still resting on the pasture grass, the calf still not fully emerged.
— Bill Allen, instructor
(Note: Students from the 2011 trip filed a more detailed report on Guillermo Vargas. You can find it several pages below.)