As part of the IES Abroad curriculum, one of the options for the 2nd course took place at EARTH University located in Guácimo, Limón. The course was titled Sustainable Development: Integrating Community, Entrepreneurship and Natural Resources and nine of us registered for it. I have to admit that at first I was hesitant to take the course at EARTH University. The last time I had taken a class involving economics or business was in high school. Though I have always had an interest in the environment, I never took classes dealing with sustainability, waste management, or on other areas dealing with the preservation of the environment. One of the aspects that immediately caught my attention was the hands-on work offered through the course. This involved visiting several farms and working on a waste management site. One of the goals was to examine the sustainable methods integrated on these farms.
I will never forget the first very first farm I worked on with my compañeras Sage and Colleen. It was an aloe vera farm and it was located in Las Lomas Community. The farm was owned by Wilbert and his family and he cultivated his aloe vera plants organically. Wilbert mentioned that this was the manner he was always taught when cultivating plants. I always knew that aloe vera was good for cuts, burns, and helped clean the digestive system. I had never known that aloe vera has over 120 properties beneficial for human beings. It was incredible to learn this knowledge from Wilbert.
Other farms that we visited included: a conventional pineapple farm, an organic pineapple farm, a commercial banana plantation, and an organic banana farm. While visiting both types of pineapple farms, I was shocked to see how many pineapples went to waste simply because of how they looked. Many of the pineapples with “defects” had a curved crown or the pineapple was either too wide or had too much of an oval shape. Some of these pineapples were crushed for the purpose of being turned into compost. Other pineapples were sent to local Costarricense markets. This experience made me realize how much power we have as consumers while buying vegetables and fruits. It was incredible visiting all these different farms. Shopping for produce in the United States will be a different experience for me because of everything I have learned. The involvement I have had on these farms has given me a new appreciation for all the work and effort that goes into cultivating produce.
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hello! My name is Sergio Cueto and I was born in the city of Juarez, Chihuahua located in Mexico. I came to Chicago when I was two years old and currently reside in the Logan Square neighborhood of the city. I am an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago, majoring in Latin American and Latino Studies with a minor in Sociology. I am also a volunteer for the Chicago Latino Film Festival. I love photography, films, reading, writing, video games, and spending time with friends and family.</span></div>