Where did the last five months disappear to?
Now an ocean apart from daily family lunches and the cool shadow-soaked air of the cocoa groves, reality is hitting hard.
Seas may separate us, but momentum for the estate only grows stronger by the day. That remarkable family of mine is keeping things running on the ground in a lively WhatsApp group. Sometimes you really do have to thank technology for getting stuff done.
Some pretty rad updates from the last couple weeks:
Our cocoa arrived safe and sound to Crafting Markets in Amsterdam. Phew. Stay tuned to see what chocolate bars our cocoa ends up in.
A fresh batch of nutmegs and mace are making their way to Burlap & Barrel in New York.
The last few days melted into one preparing for the next shipment. I did one final walk down to the works alone, thanking the trees and the soil for their hard work. There are so many secret networks of nature happening beneath our feet unbeknownst to us, keeping our world turning and lives sustained.
It dawned on me just how much I had learnt in such a short space of time. I now see and know more about our little corner of the world.
And the more you know, the less you need.
However radical and different the things we’ve done may appear, I cannot emphasise enough the value of community in making this a reality. How did we get here? I’m about to get entirely transparent with you:
I (tactically) tagged Burlap & Barrel in an Instagram post. Ethan of Burlap & Barrel asked if we’d like to supply nutmegs. But of course we do Ethan.
He mentioned his friend Simran was doing some pretty rad things with smallholder farmers and good cocoa in Tanzania with Kokoa Kamili.
When I spoke with Simran, by some stroke of luck he had just spoken to one of his customers who mentioned he was looking for cocoa from Grenada.
In walks Albert Smith of Crafting Markets. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A few other noteworthy individuals who made this story come alive:
Mathilde Roellinger, whom first planted the seed of my returning to the estate when we first met three years ago. She too had returned home to her family business, heading up sourcing spices for Epices Roellinger.
Brian Cisneros of Northwest Chocolate Festival. Our conversation about the potential of Grenada chocolate, and the wider chocolate industry was a further catalyst that inspired our cocoa pursuits.
Cocoa scientist, Sarah Bharath, for giving me the confidence to conduct my own cocoa fermentation experiments on the job.
Kim & Lylette Russell of Crayfish Bay Chocolate for everything. Mentors is an understatement. They are the reason for a lot of what went on here and how we made our first chocolate bar. Oh, and they’ve just sent a tonne of chocolate to Germany. Literally. This is the work of real life superheroes.
Shadel and Alicia of Belmont Estate, co-pilots in the cocoa shipment to Amsterdam. Who’d have thought paperwork and food grade ink would bond us for life.
Sana of Diaspora Co., for her encouraging words and for being a real world example that shaking up an entire food system is totally possible.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Because unless we group together and exchange ideas and connections, change just won’t happen.
With love, now 4344 miles away from the cocoa groves,
p.s. we’ve received some spine-tingling messages from a number of you recently in gratitude for sharing the real stories of agriculture. I want you to know that all of your comments, messages and emails further fuel and encourage the work we’re doing. I really do hope it’s inspired you to follow a path less travelled or at least live a more conscious existence in parallel with nature and the food that nourishes us.