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Newtown Friends stream film on Quakers in Costa Rica


The adult class of Newtown Quaker Meeting will view via Zoom the film “Sweet Home Monteverde” at at 9:45 a.m. on First Day (Sunday), March 14.

The film tells the true story, beginning in 1950 just months after the U.S. entered the Korean War, when four Quaker war-resisters from Fairhope, Ala., led some 40 people to immigrate to Costa Rica, a country that had just abolished its army in 1948.

Monteverdi is also the site of biennial trips by Newtown Friends School’s seventh and eighth grade Spanish students from the Quaker Meeting’s local pre-K to 8 school. Some of the highlights of the trip include a three-night home-stay with a Costa Rican family, a tour of one of the country’s volcanoes and active lava flows, and a service project with Newtown Friends School’s sister school Bajos de San Luis.

The “Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve” or “rain forest above the clouds” established by the Quakers is 4,600 feet high in the Tilaran Mountains of northern Costa Rica. National Geographic calls it “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves.”

The Quakers chose Monteverde because its cool climate would accommodate the dairy farming they planned as their livelihood. By 1972, the Quakers had purchased and farmed thousands of acres of land, built a Quaker school and a Meetinghouse, established a highly successful cheese factory, set aside land for conservation, and launched the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.

All are still prospering. The cheese factory, which began with two employees in 1952 and produced five pounds of cheese per day now has 160 employees and produces 8,000 pounds of cheese per day.

The Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve is now 26,000 acres and has 600 direct and indirect employees.