By Emme M. ’19
Today, we made chocolate from scratch. After spending the beginning of the day at the S_____ farm, learning about the various plants they grow and their uses, we were given cacao beans, still in their shells. Roasting the cacao beans was more difficult than expected—each person took turns stirring the pot of cacao while hopping around to avoid smoke from the fire.
After cooling the beans, we removed the shells, breaking quite a few in the process. Then came the hard part. Narciso, the man who lives and runs the farm, brought out machines which ground up the cacao beans. Everyone took turns hand-cranking the beans. The cocoa powder itself was so dark, rich, and earthy. I’d never tasted anything like it before. Adding sugar only made it better. We put the chocolate through the grinder four times, and each time the chocolate got smoother and creamier. Our final product was delicious—three pans of pure chocolate.
As we made the chocolate, Narciso brought it to our attention that everything we were using to make the chocolate came from the farm. They grew their own cocoa beans and sugar cane, and all the labor done by people by the farmers who live there. And the chocolate tasted especially good because we made it.
This independence from the commercial world that we experienced is one of the focuses of the farm. By growing much of their own food and processing it, they eliminate the costs of traveling to a city to buy it. The most immediate example of this is the sugar cane that they grow. Many farmers grow sugar cane, but lack the tools to process it, so they go buy sugar at a higher price.
At the farm, however, they have created a large wooden grinder, which processes sugar cane and has many other uses. The plants they grow on the farm have lots of medicinal uses, and they’re experimenting with growing cactus as an alternative food source. They’re teaching local farmers about sustainable farming, and the farm, combined with the work of the organization, is making a lasting difference in the community.