About Sustainable Agriculture in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is known for its fertile land and abundant rainfall, making it a prime location for productive, sustainable agriculture. Coffee is one of the country’s leading exports, and it is no wonder why Costa Rican coffee has been thriving in international markets—with its focus on conscientious growing methods and attention to quality, the relatively small country has made its presence known on a global scale. Costa Rican coffee farms belong to regional cooperatives that send their coffee to processing facilities called beneficios, where the coffee is dried, roasted, packaged, and shipped. World Endeavors Sustainable Agriculture volunteers in Costa Rica help at a local, award-winning beneficio located in one of the most beautiful mountain regions of Central America. Typical duties for volunteers include drying and aerating the harvested coffee, storing washed and toasted coffee beans, and visiting coffee farms and assisting with coffee transportation to the beneficio. Volunteers may also help with the harvesting efforts on the farms themselves. Sustainable agriculture in Costa Rica is vital to local communities, and volunteers can make a difference by supporting the local economy and helping small coffee farmers to get their product on the market.
A Typical Day in the Life of a Volunteer in Costa Rica
World Endeavors volunteers in Costa Rica can expect their days to be a combination of meaningful volunteer work, cultural experiences, and free time for relaxation and reflection. The sample schedule below represents a typical day for a volunteer in Costa Rica. Keep in mind that when volunteering abroad, a typical day can be anything but typical!
8:00 am – 8:45 am: Breakfast with your host family. Breakfast in Costa Rica often consists of gallo pinto (rice and black beans), eggs, fried plantains, and fresh fruit juice or locally-grown coffee.
8:45 am – 9:00 am: Travel by public bus or walk to your volunteer placement.
9:00 am – 12:00 pm: Work at volunteer placement.
12:00 pm– 12:30 pm: Head home for lunch with your host family or eat lunch at your project site. Lunch is the main meal in Costa Rica. A typical lunch is a casado (rice, beans, meat, tortillas, and a salad).
1:00- 3:30 pm: Work at volunteer placement
3:30 pm: Walk or ride the public bus to Spanish class.
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Spanish class.
5:00 pm – 7:00 pm: Free time to explore the city, take a stroll through the central park, browse the vendors’ stands at the market, get some ice cream, go to the internet café, or swim in the local public swimming pool.
7:00 pm – 8:00 pm: Dinner with your host family. Dinners in Atenas often include gallo pinto, meat, vegetables, and tropical fruit. Dinner is usually a smaller affair than lunch.
8:00 pm – 10:00 pm: Relax at home, watch a movie and practice Spanish with your host family, prepare for tomorrow’s volunteering, or plan a weekend trip to go swimming along the Pacific or Caribbean coast, hiking in the rainforest, visiting one of the numerous volcanoes, or white water rafting and zip-lining.
Project and class schedules, meals, and free time activities may vary depending on the details of your placement.
Volunteers must be 18 years of age or older, though exceptions to this age requirement may be made on a case-by-case basis. Successful volunteers are hardworking, flexible, and open to truly immersing themselves in Costa Rican culture.
I loved speaking Spanish. It was an amazing experience and I feel more comfortable starting a conversation in Spanish now.
-Maggie, Volunteer in Costa Rica
Elyse is from Ontario, Canada. She studies Sociology and English at university. She was a volunteer with the World Endeavors Teaching volunteer program in Costa Rica.