Tomorrow is cocoa collection day, which makes today cocoa picking day.
Starting at the furthest corner of the property, Rawldon, Kimon, Kelwin (a Grenada Cocoa Association intern) and I began picking early in the morning. We aimed the long cocoa harvesting sticks and sliced ripe pods from all 274 trees. Some pods grow high up and require patience and precision – the boys are much more skilled at it than me!
We gathered the yellow, orange and red pods into vibrant heaps throughout the farm to crack open for the pulpy white beans. This creamy pulp surrounding the beans is a sweet snack while collecting the beans, which are purple and bitter on the inside.
With a whack and twist of a machete we opened the cocoa pods.
Dorise joined us to scoop the beans into buckets and pick out the stringy fibers holding the beans together.
The full buckets will be weighed and sold as “wet beans” to the Cocoa Association, who will dry and ferment the beans.
Although you can get a better price for dry beans, the process can be a risky and time-consuming process. Many farmers sell their beans wet, some walking five to six miles with heavy buckets. This is why our yellow van, Fear Not, has been so helpful with transporting beans!
The leftover cocoa pods are left on the soil, or in our compost bins, and add nutrients back into the ground.
Yesterday we turned the compost in our bins. It looks great, and will be sold to farmers at a cheaper price than typical fertilizer.
CFFI’s plan is to use this as an incentive to encourage more farmers to use organic methods to fertilize their crops and control weeds.
Check back tomorrow to find out how our cocoa did on selling day!