Yesterday I went to finally see my first chocolate plantation and was very pleasantly surprised!
To be honest, I was worried that by going on a chocolate tour I would be supporting the idea of plantations...and therefore, monoculture. When I arrived at the family run business, I was so happy to see that they were serious about helping the planet while also preserving their culture surrounding the cocoa plantation! From the tour I learned so much, but one big aspect was that they acquired the plantation approximately 25 years ago, and since then have allowed it to grow in and become more biodiverse! They had so many plant species like bananas, plantains, papaya, avocado, pineapple, bleeding tree, ceiba tree, and they even had ponds with tilapia.
Now, they refer to the plantation as a coco forest and I can completely see why. But, aside from the amazing range of flora and fauna around the land, they did teach us a lot about cocao. Here are some things I learned:
1. It takes 7 months for a blossom to turn into the cocao fruit
2. There are 12 different species of chocolate
3. But Criollo is supposed to be the best and most expensive (what they mostly grow here)
4. A cocoa tree will produce fruit mostly from years 2 to 25...it can produce later but not very much
5. Spain is believed to be the first country to add sugar to make chocolate!
I will be posting a lot more about all the amazing things I saw and learned while at the chocolate plantation, but I would 100% recommend @ranchoraices to anyone who is interested in the making of chocolate, general biodiversity, flora & fauna of Costa Rica, and the culture this family is preserving for years to come! .
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