Enjoy a healthy treat whilst making an impact on farming families in coastal Ecuador
TREE OF WISDOM CHOCOLATE Ltd. The farmers startup was founded after being small cacao growers, micro chocolate makers and researchers. Our story begins in 2009, during the recovery of an old field of green plantain that was affected by sigatoka. We started by planting 1000 trees of Nacional Cacao with a combination of mixed fruits such as papaya, clementine, bamboo and peanuts. This has shown us that intercropping in cacao is necessary to become sustainable, and that in addition it also helps to reforest tropical fields in an organic way, just as the native farmers used to.
After 4 years of taking care of the planted trees and by reforesting the field through organic techniques, the production begun and with a surprising high yield! However, as enthusiasts and beginners just after selling our first fresh bag of cacao beans to the local trader we realized that just by being a single, small farmer it was quite impossible to subsist. Therefore, we developed a collaborative project (Saneli) with small farmers from around the province of Manabí and Guayas, Ecuador. During this period, we specialized in pruning, harvesting, pre-drying, fermenting and drying cacao beans. We consider that one of the most important steps in order to develop high quality flavours is to have a controlled but wild fermentation. Consequently, we have been working with small farmers across Ecuador, Saneli cacao farm (our own micro batch fermentary) and with Paula, our operational chief in Quito.
As small farmers, we understand the lack of knowledge and income that cacao growers can have. But thanks to great collaborations with experts from around the world we are improving our crops, as well as teaching and training our community to learn all the required techniques to succeed in their work with cacao crops. Even though we are not members of historic associations or chocolate schools, since we first started planting our trees in 2009 we have cared about their genetics and the preservation of the native varieties and flavours of the territory. In 2013, our associate brand TOW SUPERFOOD CHOCOLATES (created by Paula and Pedro in Ecuador) started producing small batches of snack artisan cacao nibs and chocolate, demonstrating to the world how partially roasted beans and the right combination of fruits, nibs and liquor should taste. The hard work of farmers and chocolate makers involved gave us the opportunity to be recognized and receive support from renown chocolate makers in Ecuador and Italy - friends that to this day are supporting us and helping us to make a better product.
With the help of Patricio, Sandra and Agapo (three micro farmers of the region), throughout 2017 we planted 1600 new plants of an almost extinct cacao variety (Type Criollo and Nacional clones), and we implemented a nursery for 6000 plants of Arriba Cacao (a superb tasty variety of fine and flavour cacao). Our dream and mission is that this farmers project “Saneli Cooperative Platform” (-0.229293, -79.493592) becomes a main establishment for the cacao community of Manabí, where we can post-harvest the cacao beans whilst training, teaching and recognizing the cacao farmers’ work as a profession.
This is to be achieved by having our cacao and chocolate headquarters in Bristol ,United Kingdom (city of the first dark chocolate bar!), where TOW will be the first direct trade brand between smallholders and the European market. We consider that the only way to fight poverty and to achieve sustainability is by encouraging farming families to become skilled in their industry. The key steps to achieve this are by training workers; paying fair wages; paying 20% above the market price for fresh cacao beans; and by involving local farmers in the professional supply chain of chocolate products.
Pedro, Vicente and Agustin are our chocolate makers and each one is specialized in a different type of chocolate (Dark, Covertures, Raw and Milk). Since 2015 we have been developing different formulas for single origin bars that will be available here in TREE OF WISDOM CHOCOLATE Ltd. online store.
Tree and bean to bar
-Made in Ecuador-