Part I: One of the most memorable and emotional days of my life!
My business partner, Alejandro, kept telling me about how UNIQUELY special these small community farms are. They supply the NGO that we buy our cacao from. Yet, until I actually spent a 19-hour day trekking into the heart of Ecuador and an afternoon in the backyard garden with Otto & Jenny, I didn’t realize the difference.
They are one of the 2423 families that dedicate their ENTIRE LIFE to this craft. We were up at 3:30 a.m. for the one hour flight to Manta 500k south, by the Pacific Ocean. There are massive tuna factories there, so the air was filled with tuna and sea water smells, as we drove from the coast into the depths of Ecuador.
Three hours of driving each way, on insanely bumpy roads, to get to this one small farm located in the heart of this beautiful Country.
Miles and miles of roads, with small homes and thousands of small “tiendas” (shops) by the road. Then, we finally pulled up to a small gate and entrance.
We had the utmost privilege of meeting Otto, who greeted me with the biggest smile ever, his machete quickly chopping the top off a coconut so I could have a refreshing drink with their 4 dogs, ducks, chickens, roosters, chicklets and piglets all roaming around. Their 2 kids now grown and moved out of their home.
What deep joy to spend time at their home and garden. I was expecting a traditional “farm” with rows and rows of cacao trees - maybe even sprinklers? No, no, no. Their farm is literally a tiny home, with their tiny barn, shed and a cover, all right there when you pull in; this family has been living there for 45 years, and their backyard is their small garden, only 3 hectares.
Working their land, crops and harvests daily ... day after day, for all these years, raising their family, living off the land, to provide us with the best tasting fruits and cacao beans on the planet!
The cover of trees and foliage and tall leaves was nice - high and thick, with just enough sun shining through. Like walking in a maze, really. With random plants everywhere, all embedded and intertwined. Otto was taking so much pride finding for us one fruit plant, then another, and then some more cacao beans.
There were literally 18 different fruits being grown: from coconuts, avocado, mandarins, lemons, oranges, massive grapefruits, mangos, bananas, peanuts (purple peanuts! SO yummy 💕), plantains, watermelons and also the corn fields and flowers and more flowers everywhere.
And of course, butterflies 🦋flying all over! I have SO much more to tell you all. 🦋
Part II coming soon! … Check out this amazing video!
By: Suzie Yorke, CEO and Co-Founder.