Friday, July 18, 2008

How about a Chocolate Tour in Belize with SHI?

Love chocolate? interested in a sustainable tour in Belize that is focusing on the ecology, history and culture of chocolate and will also give you the opportunity to plant Cacao trees? Well, we've got some info for you - our planting partner Sustainable Harvest International has few more spots left in its upcoming Sustainable Chocolate Tour to Belize in what promises to be an amazing (and delicious!) adventure!

This trip is part of the Smaller World Program, which was launched by SHI to increase cultural understanding and empower the global community to create a more equitable and sustainable world. The dates for the trip are September 4 - 11, 2008 and Florence Reed, SHI's founder and president, will lead it alongside SHI local Belizean staff and families.

This trip will be both fun and educational, with opportunities to work side-by-side with SHI participant families who are growing cacao (the plant that produces chocolate) in sustainable multi-story forest plots. Participants will tour family farms and take part in traditional Mayan chocolate production, from tree planting to roasting cacao beans on wood-conserving stoves.

Organic Chocolate Belize

Families working with Sustainable Harvest International's programs in Central America are growing Cacao (what chocolate is made from) in multi-story shade forests. These forests protect soils and provide a home for wildlife. In fact, we find that aprox. 85% of the birds that have left deforested areas are returning to these "forest gardens."

Cacao is a valuable cash crop that enables the families working with SHI's programs to increase their incomes while protecting the environment. SHI's local extensionists provide families with materials and training in techniques like pruning which can increase cacao production by as much as 70%.

Not convinced yet? here is the daily schedule of the trip (from
SHI website):

Day 1: Arrival: Fly into Punta Gorda, travel by boat up the lush Moho River to
Cotton Tree Lodge, an eco-lodge partnering with SHI to host demonstration plots and training workshops. Get settled in one of their beautiful thatched roofed cabanas before joining the group for dinner in the main lodge.

Day 2: The History, Culture and Creation of Chocolate: Organic Farm Tour and Chocolate Workshop with local SHI participant families.

Day 3: Planting Hope:Plant cacao and other forest trees. Take part in
agroforestry and reforestation projects on family farms that will restore watersheds, provide animal habitat, protect soil and produce food and income for families.

Day 4: Rocket Stove Workshop:Work side-by-side with local staff and families to construct
wood-conserving rocket stoves. These stoves can be used to roast small batches of cacao and to cook family meals. They use 1/4 of the amount of firewood as an open fireplace and greatly reduce toxic smoke in the home. In the afternoon, return to the lodge for some free time to explore the site, swim and relax.

Day 5: Family Gardens and Tree Nurseries: Tour family and school gardens and tree nurseries. Learn about the importance of sustainable planting techniques, compost, grafting, natural pest control and seed-saving.

Day 6: Work projects and sightseeing:In the morning we'll finish up work projects with local families before taking an afternoon waterfall excursion.

Day 7: Cooperatives and Marketing: Visit with representatives from the
Toledo Cacao Growers Association and Greens and Black's Organic Chocolate Company. You'll see how fair trade and organic cacao make it from the small farm to you.

Day 8: Departure: Return home or continue traveling on your own.

If you wonders how much this delightful trip costs, it's $2,500, which includes a $500 donation to the local program, all in-country travel expenses, meals, double occupancy accommodations at Cotton Tree Lodge, sight-seeing tours, translation, staff support and materials.

Space is limited. So if you're interested to reserve your spot or looking for further information, please call SHI office at 207-669-8254.

Raz @ Eco-Libris

* photos are courtesy of Sustainable Harvest International (SHI)