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Maya Mountain Cacao is planting an organic agroforestry cocoa farm with the indigenous Maya. Local solutions, global change.
Maya Mountain Cacao is planting an organic agroforestry cocoa farm with the indigenous Maya. Local solutions, global change.
310 backers pledged $86,721 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$86,721

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Maya Mountain Cacao connects 330 small-producer cacao farmers in southern Belize to the fine chocolate industry in the United States. The farmers we work with are primarily indigenous Maya who are at or below the poverty line. Agriculture is their main source of income, and cacao is the main cash crop in this area. In Belize, the delicious chocolate industry is enabling farmers to support their families' health, children's education, and lives.

Over the past few years, demand for Belizean cacao has grown wildly. To put it in perspective, Maya Mountain Cacao currently supplies 6 chocolate makers, with over 70 on our wait list. We've invested heavily in expanding the national production so we can bring farmers as much value as possible. And now it's time to take the next step: we're partnering with the community and local leadership to build a productive, world-class cacao Demonstration Farm! 

This farm will bring enormous social, environmental, economic and educational benefit to Belizean farmer families. 

  • Environmental Conservation: This pristine jungle plot was previously at risk of slash and burn farming. Our farming methods will conserve the diverse canopy by using agroforestry principles. We'll preserve and plant timber trees, like mahogany and cedar, for shade. We'll also create a dynamic ecosystem by planting plantains, bananas, wild plum, allspice, black pepper and avocado. 
  • Economic Benefit: The farm will represent a consider added source of cocoa production (50% increase over currently annual country-wide production), creating jobs for Belizeans and developing local industry growth. 
  • Educational Opportunity: The Farm will serve as an educational tool for local and international farmers and cocoa industry folk, as a means to demonstrate the ways in which both business and conservation principles should drive farm planning. This practical education will enable a new generation of cacao growers to approach farming with an environmentally responsible, commercial attitude.

We've already brought the community together and assembled the strongest team of local farmers, cacao science experts, and fine chocolate makers. Now we need the funds to make it all happen. 

With $40,000 we'll be able to plant 120 acres of cacao agroforestry -- complete with timber trees for shade, and diverse intercrops. We'll use the funds to set up nurseries, pay the salaries for our hardworking farmers, and to do agricultural, compost, and maintenance trainings. 

Once the farm is in blossom and producing cacao, it will not only double Maya Mountain Cacao's current volume but will also be fully financially sustainable and a source of ongoing employment and economic opportunity for rural Belizean Maya communities. 

Risks and challenges

As in any agricultural endeavor, the success of the farm is subject to risk from natural disasters (hurricanes, tornados, windstorms, drought) and pests.

We will overcome these challenges by using planting techniques -- like wind-blocks and planting along the land's natural curves -- that will prevent damage to the farm in case of natural disasters. We will also use Good Agricultural Practices to prevent pests and disease from taking hold on the farm.

Additionally, because of the land tenure issue in Belize (there is currently a court case pending at the Belize Supreme Court regarding indigenous peoples right to communal ownership of land), all land leases and documents in indigenous communities could potentially be at risk until the court case is settled. To proactively address this issue, MMC is working directly with indigenous Maya community members who have leased the land for the last 25 years, ensuring that the community is invested in the farm. To be clear, MMC will not own this land; MMC is leasing the land for 20 years from local Maya families. At the end of the 20 year term the farm and all of its trees and produce will belong to these families.

MMC's investment in the Demo Farm represents one of the few sources of direct investment in indigenous Maya communities; the goodwill to be generated by this project is likely to prevent any political or social issues from blocking progress on the farm.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Thank you for your support!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Chocolate friend, we think you're pretty cool and we want everyone to know it. You'll get a big thank you on our website.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    You're a novice cacao farmer! We'll plant a tree on the farm in your name. You'll also get a thank you video from a cacao farmer, and we'll send you a pound of delicious Belizean cocoa beans so you can make your own chocolate!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Okay chocolate lover, we see you. We'll plant 5 trees on the farm in your name. We're going to reward you with a delicious artisanal chocolate bar, a pound of Belizean cocoa beans, an MMC burlap bean sack, and a thank you video from a farmer.

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    So you're a serious about sustainable farming, ey? We'll plant an acre of cacao (400 trees!), tropical fruit and timber trees, all in your name. You're also entitled to a tour of one of several chocolate factories located throughout the USA -- with tons of chocolate samples along the way. That's Taza Chocolate in Boston, Dandelion Chocolate in San Francisco, or Raaka Chocolate in New York. We'll send you an MMC t-shirt, a pound of Belizean cocoa beans, and a chocolate bar in the mail. And you'll get a thank you video from a farmer!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Chocolate fanatic! We'll plant an acre of cacao (that's 400 trees!), tropical fruit and timber trees in your name. You'll have a personal Skype call with a farmer. You're entitled to a tour of one of several chocolate factories, as listed above. You'll also get a Maya Mountain Cacao tshirt, a pound of beans, a sample pack of three chocolate bars, and a Belizean hand-woven basket made with agroforestry palms!

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    You're a chocolate party animal! You're entitled to a chocolate factory tour, as listed above. We'll plant an acre of cacao (400 trees!) and tropical fruit trees, in your name. You'll get to personally meet a farmer over Skype. And, we'll send you a sample pack of five artisanal chocolate bars, a Belizean hand-woven basket, a brightly colored traditional Maya "cuxtal" purse, an MMC burlap bean sack, a t-shirt, and you'll get a big thank you on our website!

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    You better Belize it!

    We'll plant 2 acres of cacao (800 trees!) and tropical fruit and timber trees in your name. You'll also get a pack of 10 artisanal chocolate bars with customized labels. You're entitled to a tour of one of several chocolate factories located around the USA. We'll also send you a Belizean hand-woven basket, a brightly colored traditional Maya "cuxtal" purse, an MMC burlap bean sack and t-shirt. Plus you'll get to personally meet a cacao farmer over Skype, and we'll give you a huge thank you on our website!

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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    Travel to the source and visit your farm! We'll take you and a friend on a thrilling 3 day cacao extravaganza around southern Belize (lodging included, food and flights not). You'll enjoy dinner with a farmer family so you can learn about cacao farming in person. You'll also visit the acre of cacao and tropical fruit trees that was planted in your name. We'll send you off with an MMC tshirt, burlap sack, and a delicious chocolate gift set. Plus a huge thank you on our website!

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    So you're ready for your Cacao PhD? We'll send you on a 7 day chocolate week to Belize (lodging included, food and flights not), coordinated with either Taza Chocolate or Dandelion Chocolate. We'll also give you a tour of the five acres of cacao (that's 2,000 trees!), tropical fruit and timber trees planted in your name. You'll enjoy dinner with a farmer family, receive an MMC hat, burlap sack, and a delicious chocolate gift set. Plus a huge thank you on our website!

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Skip the line! There are now over 80 chocolate makers on our wait list. Contributing $5000 to the campaign gives you first right of refusal to half a metric ton of cacao in 2015, and a second half in 2016. After 2016, you'll get bumped to first priority on our wait list. We'll also plant an acre of cacao trees in your name on the farm, and give you a huge thanks on our website!

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Skip the line!
    It's really true -- there are 75 chocolate makers around the world on a waiting list for MMC's cacao. Contributing $10,000 to this Kickstarter campaign opens the doors to securing our cacao for your chocolate making needs! You'll get first right of refusal on 1 full ton of cacao in our first shipment of 2015! Additionally, you will get two MMC t-shirts, a Belizean hand-woven basket, a brightly colored traditional "cuxtal" purse, a special shout-out on our "Partners" page of the website, and TEN ACRES planted in the name of you (or your company) plus a plaquard on the farm that will forever show your support! On your next trip to Belize, we will set you up with a traditional Maya dinner with all of the families that we work with on the Farm so they can thank you in person.

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Funding period

- (30 days)