UCL Institute of the Americas


Maria Cristina Oreamuno Lara

Maria Cristina Oreamuno Lara is a Globalisation and Latin American Development MSc student (2018/19). Here she tells us about her fieldwork trip to Costa Rica.

In June of 2019, thanks to the UCL Travel Scholarship I spent close to three weeks in San Jose, Costa Rica collecting data on alternative food networks. Despite having grown up in Costa Rica, going back to do fieldwork let me rediscover a corner of the country I did not even know existed. I came across an array of community led projects, passionate individuals and lifelong farmers through which I was able to gain a new perspective on a daily issue, food. 

During my time in Costa Rica, I interviewed professionals that founded and work at farmer's markets around the capital. These initial interviews snowballed and I was able to connect with retired professors, community leaders and organic farmers whose insights were critical to the development of my dissertation. I visited four farms in my time in San Jose, discovering corners of the capital still untouched by construction and havens of agriculture. I learnt about issues worrying farmers and community leaders that I did not come across in the literature, specifically in the area I ventured in, the high prices of land and how that economic force is driving farmer's to sell. I also participated in a weekly community garden, which was not only incredibly fun and educational to dig into the dirt but which also allowed me to interview and collect data on the experiences and opinions of citizens related to food.  

Thanks to my time dedicated to carrying out fieldwork in Costa Rica I now have a completely different perspective on how certain citizens are approaching topics of food, climate change and urbanization. Fieldwork also opened up opportunities to volunteer as I cannot wait to get back to the community garden, to network with new connections interested in similar topics and to explore career options once I return home.