Cows on the Range = Gas for the Range

María Isabel has lived on her farm for fifteen years. Before that, she lived in the capital, San José. It was a hard life trying to earn a living when she didn’t complete school. But on her farm, María Isabel has been able to thrive.

Cows on the Range

María Isabel owns nine dairy cows and milks them every day. Then, twice a day she makes cheese and sour cream. María Isabel has many clients in her community because her products are fresh and less expensive than the stores in the area. She made sure that I tried her cheese before I left her house and gave me a bag of her sour cream to take with me. María Isabel’s dream is to own a machine to milk her cows because her hands are sore and swollen from milking daily.

María Isabel's Home Made Cheese

She also earns income from raising pigs. María Isabel purchases piglets and sells them once they weigh 100 kilograms. The pigs are fed colostrum from her cows and bananas.

Pigs on the Range

The manure from her cows and pigs is collected in a biodigestor. The biodigestor is made of plastic bags that are filled with manure and water, which is then converted into gas and inflates the bags. These bags are connected to a pipe that runs into her house and to her stove. María Isabel is able to save money and conserve energy by converting manure from her farm animals to gas for her stove.

María Isabel's Biodigestor

María Isabel is very innovative in looking for more ways to save money and develop her farm. Through her Kiva loan, María Isabel intends on purchasing more cows to increase her cheese production. Then with increased profits, she will be able to save more money to purchase her milking machine.

About the author

Kelly Diggins

Kelly was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. She received a BA in Global Economics and Latin American Studies from UC Santa Cruz, which included studying abroad at Complutense University of Madrid, Spain for one year, and a summer in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Kelly also received a Trans-Global Executive MBA from Saint Mary’s College of California. During the MBA program, Kelly became interested in corporate social responsibility, including the social and environmental benefits and impacts of an organization. Additionally, Kelly co-authored a business plan to promote her client’s sustainability principles across Zanzibar, East Africa in a way that resulted in certain social, cultural, and financial benefits to local communities at the base of the economic pyramid. Kelly has extensive experience in Latin America as an Amigos de las Americas volunteer working on community service projects and focusing on sustainable development while living in Honduras, Paraguay, and The Dominican Republic. Kelly is excited for this opportunity to serve as a Kiva Fellow and participate in collaborative economic development.