The Grenada Chocolate Fest celebrates the island’s delicious organic and ethically produced cocoa and chocolate. The festival is a perfect experience for all those who have a passion for chocolate. – GrenadaChocolateFest.com
The event was held from May 12th – 20th, 2017, and consisted of a host of activities held at various locations on the island. Most of the activities were very informative and taught on topics like ‘Health Benefits of Cocoa’, how chocolate is made; ‘From Tree to Bar’ and took attendees to tour chocolate factories around the island such as Diamond Estate Chocolate Company, Belmont Estate and the recently rehabilitated, Tri-Island Cocoa Farm. Participants were even #freetowonder and got a time to kick back and relax while taking in some of #PureGrenada’s goodness at Mt. Edgecombe, St Mark’s.
This year was my first time being a part and attending some of the activities of this prestigious event. For some reason, I was drawn to the ‘Farmer For A Day’ event at Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate on day 08 of the week of activities and so I’ll try my best to recap the happenings of the day and hope to encourage you to also take part in
The day started at True Blue Bay Boutique Resort where we gathered to board the bus to head north-west of the island to Victoria, St. Mark’s. I always loved bus rides up the west coast where you get an almost uninterrupted view of the coastline of colourful fishermen boats waiting to go out for the next catch.
We drove for about 30 minutes and arrived at Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Farm at around 9:50am. It was my first time at the estate and I was totally pumped with excitement. I was excited because it was the first of the Chocolate Fest activities I had attended for the week and because regardless of anything, it was going to be an enjoyable and eventful day. So said, so done!
I was also happy to finally see all that has been happening at this organic cocoa estate owned by Kim Russel and Lylette Primell (pictured above with the white t-shirts). These two are very warm and friendly and a joy to be around. Before we ventured into the unknown, Kim briefed us on what to expect and introduced us to the two farmers we will be working with for the day. Their names are Gabry and Estone. He also gave us a crash course on how to get the cocoa out of the pods so that the flesh does not get stuck underneath your fingernails. Kim mentioned that the acid from the cocoa will start burning your nails if it does not come out from your nails properly.
Let’s get to work!
Work time! We headed into the bushes to start harvesting the crops.
Gabry and Estone moved quickly picking the cocoa and knew exactly which ones were ready. After all, they’ve been doing this for quite some time. They used a long rod which had a flat blade with an extended curve to one side, to get to the cocoa, especially those to far to reach.
Growing up, I always thought that once the cocoa was yellow or red, it was definitely ready for picking and to be consumed as a healthy snack, but on Friday, I learned that that’s not always the case. Gabry mentioned that it’s in the shape of the cocoa. I still can’t figure out how the farmers were able to determine, but even some of the green ones were good enough for harvesting and were as juicy and sweet as some of the yellow and red ones and some of the red ones we thought were ready were actually not ready. I gave up and left it to the experts.We all fetched the cocoa and gathered them in heaps for cracking when the harvesting was done. We couldn’t leave them out too long, otherwise they’ll no longer be good for use.
The variations of colours of the cocoa pods were absolutely majestic and fun to look at. I felt like throwing myself in, which I did eventually. Lol
While gathering the fruits, we had some situations where tasting or sampling was required and we obliged. We needed to make sure the cocoa was good enough for the next phase. 🙂 Others just needed a light snack, especially since most of us were unable to pick up some snacks for the trip, the cocoa served us well until lunch.
After the picking, collecting (eating) and gathering process, it was time to crack the cocoa pods and remove the pulp which was my favourite part of the day. Following Kim’s instruction, I tried hard not to get the pulp under my nails, but failed. So, I made sure to wash them out thoroughly when we were done.
The cocoa was then brought back to the shed for drying. Lylette mentioned that they usually would get up to 7,000 lbs of cocoa per year which is more than enough for what they need to do and produce their products.
Let’s talk about the food. Lunch was magnifique! We had a spicy split peas soup for starters followed by a veggie rice mixed with mayonaise or salad dressing. I wasn’t quite sure. It was like a cole slaw with boiled rice mixed into it. Oh, and the steamed fish was just right! My kinda meal. The wonders which came from that cozy kitchen. What is a meal on a cocoa farm without cocoa tea and brownies? I didn’t have any tea, but my blogging buddy Kay Nicole couldn’t stop raving about it. I did make sure to have some brownies before I left and trust me when I say these are good. After the chocolate cheese cake at House of Chocolate, these brownies are my second favourite locally made chocolate treat!
ALSO READ: Visit to House of Chocolate
I can’t stop saying how much of a wonderful experience it has been, being with the farmers and being a part of their day. It surely gave me a better understanding of the hard work that goes into producing these organic cocoa products we see on the shelves. Kim and Lylette has been doing an excellent job at the cocoa farm and taking also taking care of their staff. I was happy to see the friendly relationship established between them.
If you’re looking for a weekend of cocoa adventure and to get away from city life and your regular programming, then you should look into spending time at Crayfish Bay Organic Cocoa Estate with Kim, Lylette and the rest of the crew. I’m sure you you’ll love it there. 😉
Video production from Grenada Chocolate Fest.