The world-famous milk served daily at UGA Costa Rica doesn’t just taste great, but it serves as an example of how to minimize our eco-footprint. Students gain a feeling of gratification knowing there is zero waste behind the animals that make our meals savory and delicious.
As the sun dawns each day, Marlon Martínez, the stable manager, calls the cows for milking. He has beckoned them with a patient demeanor ever since the stables were constructed in this location five years ago.
Depending upon the number of interns and the season, UGA Costa Rica produces between 15 and 25 percent of the food we consume, right here on campus! This model is applicable both locally and globally. Here’s why:
The vast majority of the world’s farms are just like ours – small scale. According to the 2015 State of Food Insecurity in the World, family farms produce over 80 percent of the Earth’s food. Additionally, over 80 percent of these farms are smaller than two hectares, about two soccer fields.
Volunteers and students team up with Marlon to tend the stables to milk, clean, and facilitate sustainable farming. Students of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida rolled up their sleeves to get in on the action.
Students here learn about the process start to finish, feed to waste. Being committed to sustainability means managing all of these factors. The manure from the cows and pigs goes toward the biodigester, a giant bladder that converts waste into methane energy using micro-organisms.
Raising farm animals in this fashion translates to an essential learning curve, not just for the students that visit from across the globe, but also for the local community. UGACR has already implemented several biodigesters for local farmers off-campus.
It’s a grand contribution to the health and happiness of the community. The end product – chocolate milk served daily in el comedor, from grass-fed cows that can run just as much as our students.
Photos and words provided by Photojournalism Intern Charles Austin Boll.