"If I have the land, I will ensure the richness of my offspring." - Edgar Campbell
Today, I visited a farm in southeast Costa Rica known as Cashew Hill, owned by the wonderful Edgar Campbell. Edgar and I met a couple of weeks ago at the Puerto Viejo Chocolate Festival. He was the only indigenous Cocao Farmer there. I sat in for a workshop that he did about his farm and his mission was to cultvate the BEST Cocao in the town. Little did I know, I would find his farm so inspiring.
So that you can comprehend the importance of Cocoa in the indigenous communities, here is a brief history of Cocao in Costa Rica. Previously, Cocao was a well cultivated crop throughout the farms in Costa Rica. It was even traded as currency. Even today, indigenous communities revere the tree and use the fruit ceremonially during big events such as weddings and funerals. These ceremonies even include singing and dancing.
Unfortunately for many; however, when banana plantaitions from large corporations started springing up, so did a fungus known as monilla that rots the fruits of the cocoa tree. The virus caused a lot of families with cocao farms to abandon both their farms and their livelihoods and find work on the plantations or elsewhere. (BTW, this is a good reason not to support Dole of Chiquita Banana's conventional bananas.) Since then, mainly foreigners have picked up the tradition of growing Cocoa and making chocolate bars to sell here.
The town I live in almost revolves around chocolate (and coconuts). And its amazing that foreigners are able to make a livelihood and business out of this tree, but it's even more impactful that indigenous peoples are doing so again. It's a way to pay homage to their ancestors. This is why Edgar Campbell decided to come back to his family's farm and create the best Cocao possible.
The farm has 70 years in his familly, originally owned by his grandmother and grandfather. Edgar now takes care of the farm along with a couple of other people.
In terms of terrain, the farm Is very hilly, and about every inch of the ground is covered with grass or weeds. There is a good reason for that. Some of the fruits of his trees still get the monilla fungus. He just cuts the fruit off of the tree when he sees it, and throws it into the ground. He says that the grass helps the spores in the fungus keep from spreading. Wow- that's amazing!
Although the main crop grown on Edgar's farm is Cocao, he also grows coconut, mangosteen, mango, star fruit, papaya, pineapple, plantain, banana, wild yam, yucca, yampie, cedar, and a lot of medicinal plants. In his nursery, he has about 55 almond trees that he wants to plant to help repopulate the area with the endangered Macaws. He also had cinnamon, coffee, vervain, oregano, bay rum, ginger, and many other plants.
Edgar showed us how he grafts the Cocao trees, as well. This ensures that he can multiply his crop as well as reproduce the most productive trees. This was prevalent throughtout the farm, because he produces a lot of grafts. This is a good way to get a good, strong, healthy yield. He also had a ton of original, or criollo, trees. Not to mention he had different varieties of the cocoa itself. Some burgundy, some orange, some yellow, and some white.
All in all, my favorite part about the farm was Edgar's mission. He wants to both honor his ancestors by carrying on their tradition, and teach the youth so that they might do the same. Not only that, but he wants to maintain the organic farm, even though it's harder work than maintaining a conventional farm because he says he gets more satisfaction that way. Another goal he has is to make sure that the farm keeps food on the table. Last but certainly not least, he wants to recover the Cocao plants. And he's had much success just by returning to the farm and honoring his heritage.
Thank you for visiting Little Lotus Herbals! I hope that this blog inspires you to respect what your ancestors have gone through to get you where you are today. And that you honor them by fulfulling their works in at least one area of your life! Stay tuned in for more weekly blog posts .
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Until next time! Peace. <!3