Pura Vida Gardens Chocolate: Organic Cacao Agroforestry
Pura Vida Gardens Chocolate: Organic Cacao Agroforestry
Join the regenerative agriculture movement to help reverse climate change, through exquisite organic chocolate! Worker-owned farm!
Join the regenerative agriculture movement to help reverse climate change, through exquisite organic chocolate! Worker-owned farm! Read more
At a Glance/TLDR:
- Farm worker owned demonstration farm!
- $90K + taxes/fees raised for 15ha/35-acres of Pristine Farmland
- Cacao is threatened; We are saving heirloom varieties for the best tasting chocolate!
- Regeneratively grown cacao is reversing climate change!
- No amount too small ~ please share this with friends and family!
"I have known Antonio for years and I'm impressed with his heart-felt dedication to cacao. He lovingly cared for the cacao trees at Finca Luna Nueva, and he has a great feel for the soul of cacao. His project excites me, and I'll be cheering it on - as a friend and neighbor. The world needs skillful farmers growing sacred plants in a regenerative manner."~ Tom Newmark, Cofounder Finca Luna Nueva Farms; Greenpeace Fund Board Chairman; Sacred Seeds Sanctuary, Cofounder and President; Carbon Underground, Founder and Board; New Chapter, Inc. (Organic food-based vitamin supplement company), Former CEO (retired)
For the Love of Cacao
Do you love chocolate? Cacao is the main ingredient in chocolate, and is the second most nutrient-dense food staple on Earth. The world's best chocolate is produced from the rarest and most threatened varieties of cacao, most of which is grown by very small farmers in tropical regions throughout the world.
Do you hope to someday share the gift of chocolate with your grandchildren and great grandchildren? To compete in the global commodities markets, small farmers struggle to find a fair price for their harvests, and consequently, desperately resort to chemical amendments for a short-term boost in yield. This practice severely compromises their soils and the long-term health of their orchards in order to just barely survive – a primary reason why cacao is now threatened.
Pura Vida Gardens came into existence to preserve some of the traditional cacao varieties of Central America. Through Biodynamic practices, our farmers will grow cacao in harmony with the rainforest which creates uniquely flavored delicious chocolate. We have learned that chocolate is a powerful vehicle for engaging dialogue about climate change and environmental stewardship.
As both farmer and chocolatier, Pura Vida Gardens intends to transform cacao into chocolate, harvested from our own orchard. We sell directly to consumers, so more resources stay with the farm and its workers.
An Opportunity is BornCosta Rica is uniquely suited to deliver both an ideal environmental climate for fine cacao production and a great geopolitical climate for social and environmental justice.
The Passion that Fuels UsAt Pura Vida Gardens, we wholeheartedly believe that cacao serves as a powerful catalyst to protect, contribute to, and improve farming practices in Costa Rica.
By incorporating Biodynamic farming to convert this land into a productive demonstration farm, we aspire to exemplify a view of Nature whereupon the farm is an interconnected, whole, living organism. Our practice is to recycle organic matter produced by the various plants within the orchard, back into the soil which continually feeds the orchard itself. Pests are managed with biological means and water is used efficiently. Through these regenerative techniques, we will not only create healthy, sustainable and delicious cacao, but also help sequester atmospheric carbon and do our part to help reverse climate change, as demonstrated in recent studies.
For more on carbon sequestration and how agriculture plays a big part, please see the information provided by The Carbon Underground at this link: https://thecarbonunderground.org/
The Difference is in the Details
Pura Vida Gardens’ project is to cultivate and preserve what we believe are the world's best, rare heirloom varieties of cacao: Criollo and Porcelana.
To do so, we are backed by an incredible team of mentors, collaborators and reputable colleagues in the area of Costa Rican organic and sustainable agriculture.
By embarking on this multifaceted project, which aims to touch every aspect of chocolate production, we intend to participate in the eco-revolution movement that is reclaiming traditional, farming wisdom and giving back the spotlight to local farmers.
From some of our collaborators we are fortunate to have in our direct network:
"I'm excited to be associated with Antonio and Lisa's Biodynamic cacao project. They are building a diverse agro forestry plantation which will produce cacao and other crops. By combining numerous Regenerative Agricultural practices their project will help sequester carbon while producing nutrient dense food and increase biodiversity." - Steven Farrell, Co-owner and President of Finca Luna Nueva,Tropical Research Farm and Ecolodge in Costa Rica, Biodynamic, organic and regenerative tropical farming pioneer; Asociacion Nacional de Agricultores Organicas (National Organic Agriculture Association), Cofounder and Board; Carbon Underground, Founder
"As fellow craft chocolate makers, we are more than excited to see Lisa and Antonio’s project come to life! Right now, there is a growing movement towards creating healthier and more authentic chocolates that connect consumers to the unique qualities of cacao. And going beyond just crafting exceptional chocolate, Lisa and Antonio’s vision of creating a cacao orchard with regenerative farming practices will not only generate a healthy and vibrate ecosystem for our local rainforest, but it will also help to put Costa Rica on the map as producers of some of the highest quality, fine cacao in the world!" - Lindy Hart & Ismael Torrez Cordero Co-Founders of “Two Little Monkeys – Costa Rican Craft Chocolate"
"For the past 7 years, I have researched what regenerative agriculture involves. As a professional soil ecologist and researcher, I can attest that the key to preserving our endangered (due to a changing climate) agricultural crops, like cacao, is through a diversified organic practice that preserves our soil ecosystems, sequesters carbon, and provides a crop that is climate resilient and even climate restorative." - Josef F. Biechler, Soil Ecologist and Microbiologist, Carbon Underground specializing in tropical field trials and analysis
"Costa Rica needs projects like Antonio's and Lisa's. Did you know that Costa Rica has one of the highest rates of imported agrochemicals per square meter of its territory in the world? I believe Regenerative Agriculture, in every one of its forms will contribute to heal our Mother Earth. Please support this project and lets regenerate our planet!" - Danilo Solano Rojas, Biodynamic Farmer and President of Asociación de Agricultores para la captura de carbono en Costa Rica.
More about cacao from a Edwin and Isabel Arista Silva (video is in spanish), whose family farm we are currently collaborating with:
The Future of Chocolate
We are discovering how extraordinary and enjoyable the unique ‘terroir’ of each farm is in presenting its own individual flavor and complexity to the cacao.
At Pura Vida Gardens, we believe that the fine chocolate of the future will be as closely associated with the farm of origin as wine is associated with the grapes of the vineyard of origin.
A day will come when cacao farmers from Costa Rica may be recognized and celebrated as artisans and masters, raising local families out of poverty and providing the esteem and pride they so deserve. We intend to be there to nurture that evolution!
Risks and challenges
Some of the typical environmental risks associated with farming anywhere in the world are predation, disease, and severe weather:
• Predation: variegated squirrels can threaten optimal cacao production. In a healthy biodiverse orchard, based on organic and Biodynamic principals, these so-called "pests" are holistically managed to promote balance rather than elimination. For instance, we will encourage natural predators that help to control squirrel populations on the farming land.
• Disease: Frosty Pod Rot (Monilia roreri) is a fungal disease that threatens cacao trees. However, there are biological protocols that have successfully demonstrated minimization of this threat through meticulous orchard care. At Finca Luna Nueva, Antonio used a combination of Biodynamic protocols, compost teas, organic soil amendments and impeccable tree care to restore health and disease resistance to an unproductive orchard. This orchard is now producing cacao that is being used for uniquely delicious chocolate!
• Weather: Severe weather threats can never be completely controlled but are best managed by ensuring that our cacao trees grow under healthy forest canopy that helps protect them from severe rain, wind, or drought. A healthy canopy presence in the farming of cacao trees also mitigates soil erosion, can fix nitrogen, supplements biomass and has proven an optimal strategy for regenerative soil fertility.
Underfunding - Pura Vida Gardens’ strategy to avert underfunding includes:
• A judicious investment tactic that will include incremental cultivation of the land. Specifically, we intend to start farming five hectares first, instead of the total fifteen hectares available to us. By launching our project on a smaller scale, we will manage cost during the start-up phase.
• A comprehensive business model (too detailed for this format) will keep us on track, accountable and alert to all necessary phases and aspects of running this business.
• Chocolate bars for sale now – we are producing fine dark chocolate bars with organic cacao purchased from collaborating farms in the same region of Costa Rica. Over the next 2 to 3 years necessary for saplings to mature to fruit production, we will continue to buy Criollo and Trinitario beans from these local, organic-certified farms to produce our chocolate bars. The burgeoning popularity of our chocolate reaffirms our belief in these exquisite varieties of cacao. Funds from the sale of these chocolate bars will provide an additional revenue stream for the project, while we establish a nursery and plant our orchard.
• Production of other agroforestry crops such as ginger, turmeric, plantain, moringa, vanilla, allspice, yuca and many more, which are successfully produced in the region, will be sold at local ferias (farmers markets) for an added revenue stream.
• The Balance between Production & Sales: in the event that cacao production outpaces chocolate sales, Pura Vida Gardens is prepared to market our high-end cacao to fellow chocolatiers. In instances when chocolate sales may exceed orchard production, we can continue purchasing Costa Rican cacao from our collaborating farms. Pura Vida Gardens is developing this flexible model that can adapt to changes in production over time.
Farm personnel - Hiring and retaining the right staff:
• Pura Vida Gardens currently consists of two founding members and multiple, local mentors and collaborating farmers ready to partner and support this endeavor. Having worked intensively in Costa Rica, intermittently over the past five years, Antonio, one of the founders, has developed a cohesive relationship with a network of locals with expertise in agroforestry and cacao production in Costa Rica. The founding members will remain in their roles as farmers, gardeners, and chocolatiers while engaging a local population of Costa Rican expert farmers to lead the project.
• Implementing a gradual increase in staff will ensure the safeguards necessary to accurately identify personnel needs. Additional personnel to be hired going forward may include a local farm manager, four local farmers, and an export manager who will oversee the export of our cacao to the United States for chocolate production.
• A business model built on the fundamentals of socially-responsible entrepreneurship, to incorporate fair labor practices, Pura Vida Gardens is committed to forming a worker-owned organization. A tenet of our project is to give ownership and recognition to the local Costa Rican farmers who work the land. In doing so, we anticipate strong retention and commitment to the project as well as improvements to the quality of life of many local farm workers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)