The Finca Modelo Ecológica located in Monteverde, Costa Rica; which was acquired by the Brenes family in 1951. His story of intertwined challenges and changes that have combined to provide us economic activities using the environment in a sustainable way.
The Brenes family are from the town of Zarcero and came to Monteverde in 1951, but his arrival was not easy at all. The family hired a car to take them to Guacimal, however, the road was in bad conditions that for this reason they were left halfway to Monteverde. They waited for the bus to take them to Guacimal, but then the driver didn’t want to transfer them to Guacimal because the amount of luggage, but in the end the driver agreed to take them.
When they reached to Guacimal there was an ox cart waiting them to take them to Monteverde, after eight hours of walking on bad roads all dirt and mud the Brenes family could finally reached their destination.
In those times there was very little work in the whole area of Monteverde, only about 12 people had jobs and their pay was 1.5 colones per day! The families were so poor that they barely had enough money to buy rice, cooking oil, salt, flour, candles, and matches. The homes back then were made with dirt floors and people only had three set of clothing, two for work and one for festive activities.
The Brenes family bought the farm for around 3,000 colones (about $6) with a very old house and also bought a horse and a cow cost 450 colones (about $0.84).
The farm had only grass to feed the horse and the cow, also didn’t produce any food or water so it was transported on containers from a stream.
Although back then the town of Turín was more important than Monteverde, a popular activity at that time took place at the home of Don Rafael Arguedas. Every Sunday the people gathered there to listen to the radio for a few hours and then returned home.
The difficulty of transport on horseback was by the bad condition of the roads, when a person was sick it was take to the Doctor in Abangares on a a rigid backboard made of rod and sack, it took for 8-9 hours to take it to Abangares and needed the help of a 15-20 people to carry the patient.
Over the years, the economic situation of the Brenes family began to improve. Little by little they began to plant more grass and corn, which in turn it gave them the opportunity to buy more animals and have products to sell. All the farm produce was taken to sell to the Juntas of Abangares.
Meanwhile, residents of the area started producing milk for cheese making by the Quakers (who arrived in Monteverde in 1949) for their own consumption. The neighbors made a great effort to transport the milk to the cheese factory in Monteverde. The milk was transported in horse’s by trails. However, that was the beginning of the famous Monteverde Cheese Factory. The Brenes family was part of this, Herman Brenes was one of the first Tico workers.
In 1980 there was planted over 8 to 10 thousand trees species such as cypress, Tubu, corpachí, Cirrí, japan loquat, cedar, and guachipelín. The role of the trees was to be a biological corridors for birds and animals.
Trees also have another benefit, leaving the farm to increase its population of forest and nature grow. About 8 years it increased 50% of forest!
The farm has gone through three generations, his first owner was Vicente Brenes, who founded the school in La Cruz, the owner then became Don Herman Brenes, who fought for roads and electricity in La Cruz. The farm was inherited by his sons, but his youngest son had a vision of this tourism project.