Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

On the Chocolate Trail: Cacao Plantations in Grenada

I love nothing more than photographing this beauty framed against a darkened bluebird sky, sun edging toward oblivion, and it was a nice juxtaposition to wake up in the morning and segue to a bright and lively spice plantation in the heart of Grenada’s lush and verdant countryside.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

She really is a hoot: sweet as honey and as deliciously syrupy as only a country girl can be regardless of the negativity in the world at large.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

I’ve always been a bit of a botanist, and a country like Grenada is a little slice of heaven for the amateur naturalist.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Pretty much everything with roots grows with vigor in the tropical climate/steady precip that the region provides, and some of the most fantastical varieties of plants thrive in this type of environment. Huge salty nuts filled with coconut? Yep. Bulbous edible vegetable meat that tastes nothing like chicken? Check. Tiny nuts that when shaved, smell like nutmeg? Check, check, check!

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

So it was with great pleasure for me that we visited the highly functional L’Esterre Estate of the Ramdhanny family one sunny day in February. It was midway between two destinations and there wasn’t the light nor the time to do the place justice so I settled with Lois that I’d return at a later date to actually work on the farm for an extended period.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

She seemed to think it would be a hardship for me and agreed immediately that I’d be her free laborer for however long I wanted. But, for a plant-loving, flower-gazing son of hippies, it’ll be a dream come true to shuck cacao with a scimitar cutlass on the slopes of a volcanic remnant just north of Venezuela.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Kristin wrote Lois and asked for some backstory history about the property, and she shared some fascinating intel with us:

Early records show that the property was bought and owned by Frederick Harford from England in the early 1800s. It appears that he spent a significant amount of his life there (35 years) until his death. He was buried at the local parish in 1851 and the property was then apparently used by the church as a Convent for English sisters in the 1920s. This only lasted a few years.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

The estate was then passed on to Lawrence Luther Ramdhannny who, together with his wife Gladys, purchased the land in 1949. The family has used it as a home ever since and it is a gorgeous slice of history. At just under 100 acres, the hills and flats that make up the property are rife with nutmeg, cacao, ginger, coconut, bananas and everything in between, all growing in a controlled riot along with ornamental plants like bromeliads, bougainvillea, heliconias and cacti for commercial use at hotels and such.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time
Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Now, at a spice plantation like this it’s easy to get distracted by the star of the show but it’s important to look around and soak in the verdant and luxuriant landscape as you go. I get that the addiction attraction to theobromine, the active ingredient in chocolate, is real. I understand the sentiment surrounding chocolate because every time I get a taste my heart rate breaches 150 bpm and, ya know, pretty much the easiest way to make my wife happy is with some quality, high-content chocolate bar. (Editor’s note: He’s not wrong.)

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time
Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time
Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

There’s the draw of the irresistibly fun cacao pods and seeing how they dry and the foot shuffling by the women as they ferment and the hot cacao tea with nutmeg, bay leaf and condensed milk, but for me, the real pull was being able to see and imagine how this one farm integrates into not just the local economy, but the world at large.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Fortunes are made based on the production levels at farms like this by commodities traders. Cookie dough, ganache and donut icing depends on farms like this. Stock markets move based on whether this slimy nut that tastes like mango fresh off the tree has a good year. And don’t even get me started on the fruit! Walking outside after a rainstorm I’m scooping fresh starfruit off the grass and marveling at this perishable wonder before slicing it up and adding it to my rum cocktail. Out of respect, y’all.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Speaking of rum…

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

A lot of good times were created by this hunk of copper!

While I was busy taking Snapchats for my six followers, Kristin was yapping it up with our newfound—and overwhelmingly female—friends from Grenada. I found it so interesting, and so comfortable if I’m being honest, to be around all of these powerful women running the show on a Caribbean island. Maybe it’s a trend, maybe it’s always been this way and I’m just now noticing it but in either case, I’m just going to say it out loud:

A History of Grenada: Why You Should Go to the Spice Island on Your Next Vacation

#GIRLPOWER is where it’s at.

Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time

Getting There

Navigating this verdant island is no easy feat. Kristin will write a nuts-and-bolts post on getting to and around Grenada in the coming weeks, but to visit the plantation requires skirting the eastern coast and veering inland from Grenville (you’d need a turn-by-turn set of directions to find it, like most locales on the island). In the future, tour company Savor the Spice might be offering day trips to L’Esterre beginning in late 2017, so watch their site for updates.

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Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time
Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time
Exploring Grenada One Cacao Plantation at a Time
COMMENTS
  • March 18, 2017

    Sure looks like you’ve had a ton of fun. I’ve been to a coffee plantation and a pepper plantation in India. Your photographs took me back to that experience. I love learning how the whole plantation acts like one big cogwheel mechanism. There are just so many things that we are blissfully unaware off and if it wasn’t for those things we would lack so many ingredients in our daily cooking life!
    Penny recently posted..SPOTTING THE LITTLE MEN OF VIETNAMMy Profile

    • March 25, 2017

      That sounds fantastic, Penny! When we were in India, we really only got to do the highlights—Delhi, Agra, tiger safari in Rajasthan—but would love to get back and see the plantations. Pepper plantation sounds unique!

  • March 18, 2017

    Chocolate is always the answer. I’m not familiar with Grenada but it’s off the radar vibe seems ideal for me. Look forward to reading more about it!

    • March 25, 2017

      It offers the beauty of being in the Caribbean (and easy access) without the crowds, plus a preserved culture that’s yet to be tainted by tourism =)

  • March 18, 2017
    Jacklyn

    Your photography is gorgeous! The plants are all so beautiful and colorful and I love how you captured them. What a fun read!

  • March 18, 2017

    Wow!I love your pictures! I just had a visit in a chocolate museum today in Germany! Seems like visiting a cacao plantation would be the next step! 😀
    Melissa Giroux recently posted..Your Guide For Cheap Holidays To MajorcaMy Profile

    • March 25, 2017

      Ooooh, and we’ve yet to visit a true chocolate museum, Melissa, so perhaps we should flip-flop =)

  • March 18, 2017

    Funny enough we are in Grenada at the moment! We will add a chocolate tour to our list. Thanks!
    Henry recently posted..Road Tripping through KansasMy Profile

    • March 25, 2017

      So awesome, Henry! What was your favorite thing you did while there?

      • March 29, 2017

        Just got back yesterday…so many great options in Grenada that it was hard to decide which was my favorite. We spent 6 days living on a sailboat taking sailing lessons, but I think the best part was going kayaking with Conservation Kayaks. I’ll have to write a post about it soon!
        Henry Malmgren recently posted..Road Tripping through KansasMy Profile

  • March 18, 2017

    Yay, an SVV post! I feel like I haven’t seen one in awhile. The photos are spectacular and I loved reading the descriptions of the different plants and flowers growing there. And…now I want chocolate!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Bigger and Better Than EverMy Profile

  • March 19, 2017
    Kelly

    Great post. Looks like such a tropical paradise. And I love chocolate and seeing where it comes from just makes it even sweeter. Lol. Thanks for sharing and stunning photos.

    • March 25, 2017

      It’s very cool tasting it straight out of the pods. It tastes much more like fruit than chocolate!

  • March 19, 2017

    This looks super cool! I’ve never seen cacao like that with that jelly looking white stuff on it. It would definitely be cool to see a plantation like this. Also, I really like your nails in the header picture hah 😀

    • March 19, 2017
      SVV

      Oh yeah, it’s a trip! That jelly slime stuff encasing the cacao pod is actually delicious! Tastes like a fusion of banana, mango and papaya.

  • March 20, 2017

    What an amazing island, I never imagined there was so much to do!
    Dominique recently posted..Thalassery FortMy Profile

    • March 25, 2017

      I think we’ve planned your next Caribbean trip for you, Dominique 😉

  • March 20, 2017

    So dreamy!

    xox
    Feisty Harriet recently posted..If we went to lunch…My Profile

  • March 21, 2017

    Stunning content with breath taking photographs. Keep up the good work 🙂

  • March 29, 2017

    What a fun way to get to know more about the local culture and landscape. Cacao is also a big deal in Brazil, and my in-laws even have a cacao tree in their yard, so we get to pick them and eat them if we visit just at the right time. I’ve never visited a plantation like this but would love to do so.

    • March 30, 2017

      So you definitely know what a weird texture those beans are right out of the pod! I don’t think I visited a cacao plantation my one visit to Brazil, though it’s been so long I have a hard time remembering to be honest.

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