Sunday, September 4, 2016

CFFI starts a cocoa nursery!


Thanks to a generous grant by the Clif Bar Family Foundation, our team has started to build a small nursery for tree seedlings. The nursery will be used to practice grafting techniques and experiment with growing seedlings organically – free of fertilizers and growth hormones! An organic tree nursery will be important as more cocoa farmers are turning organic and looking to source organic plants.

BEFORE: clearing space in front of the Prosper House
AFTER: The nursery building is near-completed

The nursery is a small, natural building using bayleaf wood for the frame. Bayleaf trees smell wonderful, but more importantly they are hardy, fast-growing trees that are resistant to pests and make excellent pillars. 

The beginnings of our nursery
building frame
Kelwin Noel puts up the bayleaf pillars and wooden roof beams

The nursery has two sections.
1.     A semi-shaded area with tables for grafting. Vulnerable seedlings that are very young or recently grafted will stay here, protected from the sun and rain.  This is where we will do the grafting as well.

2.     The other side of the nursery has shade cloth and is exposed to rain and partial sun.  Successfully grafted seedlings will go on this side to “harden.”

Some young men help build tables
The first round of plants are brought to the nursery

Under the direction of Organic Certification Manger, Kelwin Noel, we are producing our potting soil right here on the farm.  Our soil includes a mix of nearby river sand, goat manure and topsoil collected from areas of the land that have been left untouched for many years.  We may have to source our soil elsewhere when we get the nursery up and running, but for the first few hundred seedlings, this works great.

Kelwin Noel mixing soil - part sand, goat manure and topsoil.

We collected young seedlings and cocoa seeds found underneath trees – most often from ripe pods that have fallen and cracked open. The seeds and seedlings are planted into bags with our soil and kept in the shaded portion until they are large enough for grafting.

A cocoa tree shelters new seeds while we
construct the building

CFFI has been interested in grafting for many years, starting with our grafting workshop with local farmers in 2014.  Grafting shoots from older trees onto a young seedling allows the seedling to start producing cocoa earlier, which makes them much more useful for farmers.

Young cocoa seedlings in the nursery

The two young women working on our farm, Meryl and Sherol are very interested in vegetables, herbs and ornamental plants too. They have started growing these seedlings as well. We hope to have a plant sale in the future – stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Truly A Chocolate Lover's Paradise


Grenada is unique among the Caribbean islands. It is still largely unspoiled. The beaches are wild and gorgeous.


And the lush rainforest jungles are still full of surprises.


This past Sunday, CFFI volunteer Dorise Kowalewski and friend of CFFI John Prosper went hiking in the mountains.


They were foraging for bamboo.


They use the bamboo to build all kinds of interesting things, like the furniture at the CFFI gift shop.



Up in the mountains they found not just bamboo, but all kinds of juicy fruit growing wild--mangoes and golden apples, and even water lemons, a fruit that is not cultivated and is eaten mostly by Grenada's Mona monkeys.


On this particular trek, Doko and John even found wild cocoa trees, growing as they did centuries ago, before people started cultivating cocoa. The pods are much smaller than typical cocoa pods, and the beans are tiny. They are sweet and delicious, but taste very different from cultivated cocoa beans.



After feasting on all this wild-growing fruit and cocoa beans, Dorise and John sat back and took in the view. They could hear the bells from the church in the town below. Ah, Grenada!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Professional-Cultural Exchange: CFFI Hosts Visitor-Volunteers from the École hôtelière de Montréal

CFFI would like to thank the faculty and students from the Ecole hoteliere de Montreal, who traveled to Grenada last month to participate in a rewarding cultural and professional exchange.



We at CFFI, along with our friends at Jouvay Chocolate, shared our expertise on growing, harvesting, fermenting, and drying cocoa, and on the process of turning cocoa beans into high-quality chocolate. We also offered our guests the opportunity to meet with farmers from across the island and learn about the wide variety of fruits and spices that grow in Grenada.




In exchange, our guests shared their culinary expertise with members of our community, including students at the College of Tourism and Hospitality in St. George, and students at the Adult Skill Centre in Victoria.

Special thanks to our devoted board member and volunteer Dorise ("Doko") Kowalewski for working so hard to make the exchange program a wonderful success!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Developing CFFI's Model Cocoa Farm


Cocoa trees are "understory" rainforest trees.
They require the shade provided by the canopy of taller trees. 


So, after planting some new young cocoa trees and vanilla vines on our model farm, 
we knew we had to add some shade trees.


We bartered with a local farmer for some plantain trees.
Plantain and banana trees are perfect companions for cocoa.


They grow super-fast to just the right height, so they provide shade.
They also lend the cocoa complex flavor notes
as some of their fruit decomposes in the soil around the trees.


This is Trey, who helped up plant our plantains.
Trey is the son of Rita, one of the most
hard-working members of our Women's Crafts Cooperative.
We are grateful to Trey for his beautiful spirit
and all his hard work on the model farm!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Monday, December 21, 2015

Our Local Gift Shop

If you're in Grenada and looking for a special gift,
stop by our beautiful gift shop in Victoria, St. Mark's.

We've got unique paintings by local artists...

Beautiful crafts by the members of our cooperative...

And exquisite Jouvay chocolate.
Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Rainy Days in Grenada

 On rainy days, the workers from our model organic cocoa farm help out with the crafts.
Here are Kelwin (our farm manager), Kimon, and Ericson.

They're making stars from recycled cans.
Cookies courtesy of Doko.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

CFFI Enters A New Partnership with Grenada's Vanilla Expert


Here is Sherwyn, our local vanilla expert. 

He arrived with a team of farmers to help us plant vanilla,
both on our model organic cocoa farm
and along the route of Jouvay Chocolate's free farm and factory tour. 

Vanilla is actually a vine, a distant relative of the orchid. 
Vanilla is not easy to grow.
It has to be hand-pollinated.

 The root end has to be carefully exposed.

But it is a lucrative crop, well-suited to growing conditions in Grenada.
Some cocoa growers may want to add it to their farms.

Our thanks to Sherwyn and his team!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Welcome to the Newest Member of our Women's Crafts Coopertive

Meet Malissia Mitchell, the newest member of CFFI's Crafts Cooperative. Malissia lives with her mother and her two beautiful sons. Her dream is to get her own home for herself and her boys. She's off to a great start at the Crafts Co-op, doing beautiful work and generously sharing her optimistic spirit!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

CFFI Helps Raise Money for "Our Place" Food Pantry and Meal Site

As a non-profit organization, CFFI spends a lot of time and effort raising funds for our many programs. So we were thrilled to be able to help another worthy non-profit raise money to fulfill its mission.

Our Place Drop-In Center is a food pantry and meal site that has been serving the community in and around Bellows Falls, VT, for nearly 20 years. At a recent Our Place auction fundraiser, CFFI donated an ecotourism vacation package in Grenada. "Vacation for a Change" is a week-long package that includes room and board, transportation and guided tours around the island, and opportunities to participate in a wide variety of activities, from harvesting cocoa to making authentic local crafts.

We were happy to learn that "Vacation for a Change" raised more money than any other item in the auction!

If you'd like to learn more about Our Place Drop-In Center, you can visit their blog at:
ourplacevt.wordpress.com
or their Facebook page at:
www.facebook.com/Our-Place-Drop-In-Center-108093325921/timeline

Friday, November 6, 2015

All set up in Hanover for Christmas Fair with a Difference


Dorise Kowalewski, our infinitely creative and tireless
board member and volunteer, has arranged these unique
and beautiful crafts made by artisans in Grenada.


Get ahead on your holiday shopping while
supporting the good work of CFFI
.


Our mission is to promote sustainable agriculture,
economic development, and the conservation
of biological diversity in Grenada.
Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Support CFFI's Women's Crafts Cooperative at the Christmas Market with a Difference



Ch
Come join us at the Christmas Market with a Difference

in Hanover, New Hampshire
Thursday and Friday, November 5th & 6th
10 am – 6 pm
Saturday, November 7
10 am – 1 pm


Come see all the beautiful crafts
created by the member's of CFFI's
Women's Crafts Cooperative.


Support CFFI and the
members of the Cooperative.


Thanks to a Special Supporter—Max Felchlin AG


    Max Felchlin Headquarters, Switzerland

CFFI would like to thank Max Felchlin AG, the renowned Swiss chocolate manufacturer, for its continued generous support. In business for over 100 years, Felchlin is a chocolate maker’s chocolate maker, known in the industry for producing the very finest couvertures from the very best cocoa beans.

Felchlin is committed to environmental sustainability and economic fairness, and it demonstrates its commitment in many ways. Felchlin works directly with cocoa farmers and supports them in every stage of the production process. Felchlin was CFFI’s first major donor, and it continues to support us as we provide free training in sustainable agriculture, and a variety of other services, to Grenada’s cocoa community.

For more information about Felchlin, visit  http://www.felchlin.com/en

Friday, October 16, 2015

Putting what we learned at the seminar into practice.

Introductions:
Hii!! I'm Kelwin. After CFFI sponsored my internship in the US to take a course in Agro-Ecology, Small Farm Management, and Marketing, I am back in Grenada and working as the CFFI Farm Manager.

Start of the season at Ryder Farm in New York.

New Compost Style:
Using what we learned at the last seminar, we updated our composting system. We changed the width and height to speed up the process. We also inserted hollow bamboo to allow the heap to breathe.

 New ventilation system in place.
The compost-makers at their best.
Aerial view of the compost.
The adequate height and width of your compost bin. (3x3)
Alway start with the edges of you pile first to maintain a level surface.
With this new style of ventilation our compost bins are
maintaining the proper temperature even on raining days.
Our young lettuce loves the new compost!