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!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Second Successful Seminar: Soil & Composting

Farmers from three parishes in Grenada joined us in the Prosper House to learn the importance of soil management and composting. 

CFFI board member and soil management expert, Tom Beaudry, led the soil component of the seminar. He explained the problem of erosion, how to manage pH levels and the benefits of mulching to keep soil moist.

Tom helped farmers learn how to understand the different components in soil, how to take a soil sample, and how to improve soil in order to produce more on their farms.

Troy Augustine from the Ministry of Agriculture demonstrated how to make and monitor a compost pile, and how to establish a composting system on your own farm. Troy explained how to mix compost ingredients to complement and improve your soil.

Paula introduces Troy and Tom to the seminar group.
Troy Augustine and Tom Beaudry, our expert trainers.
Kimon learning from Tom Beaudry at the soil management seminar
We had a full house at the Prosper House!
Tom Beaudry discusses soil management with a farmer.
A farmer practices using the soil probe to take a soil sample.
Soil samples can tell you what minerals or components your soil
is missing, so you know how to manage it. Proper soil management
keeps plants healthy and happy.
A very educational conversation with Paula Burdick and farmers at the seminar.
Farmers were engaged throughout the seminar.
Farmers enjoyed a lunch break on the farm before
diving into the compost training in the afternoon.
Farmers enjoy their lunch right on the land.
CFFI employees Kelwin, Kimon and Erickson help Troy demonstrate how to make a
compost heap with a mix of local ingredients.
Jennifer, one of 36 prize winners to receive a digital thermometer for
monitoring a compost heap.
The seminar was a huge success, with over 25 farmers attending and engaging in lively discussions and demonstrations throughout the day. The seminar was held on both Tuesday and Wednesday, with a number of cocoa extension officers also attending.

We look forward to hosting more seminars in the future, and are thrilled by the success of the Prosper House as a community space for learning and sharing among farmers!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

ANNOUNCEMENT: Composting and Soil Management Seminars this week

CFFI is offering another exciting FREE seminar at the Prosper House, our beautiful outdoor classroom. Please join us on our model farm and LEARN all about soil management and organic composting! Check out the poster for details. We hope to see you there!


Friday, July 31, 2015

Composting Update

video
Over the past few weeks, seaweed from the Sargasso Sea has been washing up on the shores of Grenada and has posed serious problems for local ecosystems and industries. The CC6 Grenada News team came to speak with intern Alexander Thompson about how CFFI has turned this seaweed problem into a solution for farmers on the island.
Alexander explains how CFFI uses excess seaweed from Grenada's shores to make natural compost and give back to farmers. Since CFFI's composting project began just a year ago, the demand for natural compost has nearly quadrupled.

A big thanks to the CC6 Grenada film crew for reporting this story.

Monday, June 22, 2015

We are thrilled to have Alexander back at CFFI and welcome Emily to the team!

We're very happy to have Alexander Thompson back on the farm! This summer, his work with CFFI will also count toward his nearly completed masters degree in public health. He will work on expanding the compost micro-business he helped create for CFFI. Additionally, he will be gathering data regarding water and soil quality around Victoria. Overall, his goals are: 1) to evaluate whether or not the use of synthetic fertilizer on the island is threatening marine life via increased runoff of nitrates and phosphates into waterways; and 2) to promote the use of natural compost in place of synthetic fertilizers. We are excited to see what he comes up with and enjoy supporting his educational endeavors!


Our new intern, Emily Soffa, joins us after working and teaching in a wide variety of sustainability projects in China, Japan, New Zealand and Spain over the past two years.  Emily brings her diverse background and enthusiastic community organizing skills to design and implement programs partnering our CFFI with local schools, 4H chapters, and local cocoa farmers. She is coordinating environmental cleanup events, CFFI’s first sustainable agriculture summer camp, and a fruit tree-planting project for the local elementary school. She aims to engage the local community, especially the youth, to be environmental stewards through experiential learning programs and events. We are pleased to have her on the team!
After the Victoria River cleanup event with Emily, the 4-H club, and students from the Bonair school 

Mixing concrete to form the base of CFFI's roundhouse!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cocoa Tree Fundraiser!

It's that time again! We're raising money with our cocoa tree fundraiser campaign. We've made an account on Razoo, to facilitate our crowdsourcing.  Check out our account and donate here.


Your donation will help aid the cocoa farmers of Grenada and attract the next generation of growers by helping to rebuild plantations severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, adding additional value to crops with the greatest economic potential, and maintaining Grenada's biodiversity with sound agricultural practices. And lastly (but most important for chocolate lovers) is to help the farmers produce the best cocoa beans in the world! Cocoa can only grow in small areas around the equator - so lets help keep cocoa healthy and delicious!

Friday, March 13, 2015

CFFI sponsors young farmer for agroecology training in the US

CFFI is proud to sponsor an aspiring young farmer to continue learning about organic agriculture in the United States.

Kelwin at our grafting seminar in February 2014

Kelwin Noel, 22, has been instrumental to CFFI over the past year. As an extension officer with the Grenada Cocoa Association, he leads a program to certify organic cocoa farmers.  Under his guidance our farm is well on its way toward certification.

Kelwin will travel to the U.S. in April for an apprenticeship on Ryder Organic Farm in New York. In addition to his apprenticeship, he will complete coursework to be certified in agroecology through the Multicultural Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA).

Betsey Ryder, owner of Ryder Organic Farm is excited to have Kelwin on board. "We are always happy to have crew members who are particularly interested in agriculture as their future vocation," says Ryder.

Upon completing his training in October, Kelwin hopes to return to Grenada to continue educating farmers in organic methods and the certification process.


Good luck Kelwin!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Record breaking cocoa sales from CFFI!

After three days of all-hands-on-deck cocoa harvesting, we beat our personal goal and doubled our previous record for cocoa sales on our three-acre farm! On Wednesday we sold 1,032 pounds of wet cocoa at the Diamond Cocoa Station.
Thanks to all the workers and volunteers who helped harvest the cocoa

Throughout the day farmers lined up, hauling buckets and bags of wet cocoa loaded onto trucks, carts, wheelchairs, strollers - often borrowed from generous friends and neighbors. Large estates might fill a truck, while small farmers with a handful of trees fill half a bucket.
 
Photo by Marietta Burdick
An unusually rainy January blessed farmers with an especially abundant crop.  Unfortunately, rainy days also slow the process of drying beans, which relies on the sun.  Since they could not move the beans quick enough, the cocoa station closed its doors to new cocoa beans during mid-January.  Though many farmers were frustrated the facilities lack the capacity to accommodate their success, farmers now had three weeks worth of bountiful crop ready to sell.


 The line for weighing runs on a chaotic honor system, and station employees work long hours lifting tons of cocoa into sweat boxes where beans from all over the island mix together for fermentation.  Starting as early as 6am, farmers continued to line up along the street into the evening.



Bags of cocoa are placed on a scale and recorded in books, with checks written to the landowners at $1.50 Eastern Caribbean Dollars per pound.


We typically harvest 200-400 pounds during cocoa season, with our record high at 586 pounds. In just over a year of rehabilitating the land we have more than doubled our yield.  Our friend and fellow cocoa farmer George says the progress on our farm is "an inspiration to see" as he walks to his land every morning.

George helped us prune our trees in October. Proper tree maintenance is essential for rehabilitating old trees and rejuvenating cocoa growth.  This allows trees to get the right amount of light and air flow and has to be done by a knowledgable farmer or expert who knows how to achieve the ideal shape without sacrificing bearing branches.

In addition to careful pruning, we're adding our natural compost around trees, digging drains for proper irrigation and working with natural controls for pests and diseases like witches broom and beetles.

In other news, our craft store is nearly complete in the cellar of the Jouvay chocolate factory.  Stay tuned for photos of the beautiful artwork, crafts and woodwork!