Grenada is a co-operative of organic cocoa farms which use and improve production by organic methods. This cocoa grows in a country where they have been growing cocoa for many years, so plantations are very mature.
Production of cocoa had been in decline for many years because of the stigma of agriculture and the low prices that the farmers were receiving, so local farmers became disenchanted. Although the cocoa is starting to come back, probably still half the cocoa trees on the island are under bush and vine despite being one of the most expensive cocoas in the world…
Our project is about getting local farmers involved, to become part of our project and our little chocolate factory. Farmers become shareholders, so that everyone has a real incentive and real fair way to be involved and people rehabilitate their farms and in some cases we help them do this with a little labour crew we have, and as we are Organic Certifiers, we have to concentrate on maintaining the bio-diversity and looking out for erosion control and everything you need to do to grow cocoa. One thing about that makes the farms particularly sustainable is the amount of diversity, which is very different from most other cocoa farms.
When you walk around a cocoa farm in Grenada, it does not look like a farm, it looks more like rolling hills with rainforest. All different kinds of trees with the cocoa in between and obviously this creates a diversity that is very helpful and healthy. As the opposite of a monoculture it also incidentally provides a lot of food. There isn’t a lot of agriculture on Grenada that is taken very seriously, but at grass roots subsistence level its very important; a huge amount of green bananas, starchy tubers and breadfruit, all different kinds of things they call pigeon peas can be planted on all the open areas, where we haven’t planted cocoa trees yet or places that due to hurricane damage in the past have opened up.