A Walk with the Farmers of CoopePalmares

In a noble social experiment, the country of Costa Rica shunned the expense of a national army, investing instead in the building of schools and hospitals, providing low-cost education and healthcare for the general population. Rather than following the colonial model of large tracts of farmland owned by the wealthy minority, agricultural centers were built upon a cooperative model, providing coffee plants, education and materials at cost or free for anyone with even the smallest amount of arable land.

Spend a day with the members of CoopePalmares, and you quickly begin to understand the wealth and freedom of this country that values its families, heritage, and the skills necessary to produce truly fine coffee.

In the center of every coffee field is a home. Each proud farmer we met was born in the center of his own two or three acre coffee field. A man can tend two or three acres of coffee trees with his own hands. For 365 days a year, a farmer cultivates his tree's, cleans the soil of weeds, and prepares for a harvest that returns a meager third of his income. 250 coffee trees produces that two sacks, or 300 pounds of coffee. And yet with this he sends his children to college. At harvest time the entire country returns to its roots. Children come home from school, and families reunite to harvest coffee across the country.

It is a fact that during my entire stay, I never met a man working at any job whose family was not involved in the coffee back home. It's a simple fact of life that coffee provides only a portion of the income necessary for a good life, and indeed Costa Rica is a country with a comfortable middle-class. The spirit of "Pura Vida", the pure life, is the spirit of the Costa Rican people.

"You sustain our lifestyle"

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