As a world traveler, enjoying fantastic flavors, food, freedom and fun are a big part of my lifestyle. Since even before my first visit to Belize in 2011 learning about cacao had become a bit of a chocolate culinary obsession. Cacao will definitely play a prominent piece in our master land plan, mind map and mind set. We are determined to create a fantastic food forest and cacao, citrus, coconut and coffee will all play a major role among the trees on the 149 acres of our Belize Eco Village community.
Belize Cacao and Caribbean Chocolate
Belize is fairly well known for producing a variety of citrus and fruit crops for local consumption as well as export. Belize may not be as well known yet for its cacao production because most of the cacao is eaten locally or exported to other countries that process it into chocolate. Belize has been growing cacao also known as cocoa since the early Maya and maybe even before then. Cacao was a main ceremonial and food crop grown by indigenous Maya. Both the fruit and the cacao seeds are edible. There are numerous small farms growing a variety of cacao trees for personal family and community consumption and to sell to the Toledo Cacao Growers Association . The cacao crops have produced a small but growing percentage of revenue for the agriculture industry and Belize has benefited from this according to the Toledo Cacao Growers Association. With many cacao growing issues around the world the future looks very bright for Belize cacao growers.
Since many areas of citrus in Belize are suffering a serious infestation of the citrus greening also called the yellow dragon disease many are hoping that cacao can come to the rapid rescue. Also due to excess logging and slash and burn farming the TCGA hope to shift farmers into a more sustainable practice growing organic cacao and a diverse mix of food crops and trees to produce food and income year round. An annual Chocolate Festival of Belize is held in Punta Gorda to promote the amazing organic cacao grown in Belize. Most of the cacao grown in Belize is of the fine or flavour cocoa bean variety so this will be a real treat. Most of the cacao grown worldwide is of the bulk or ordinary cocoa bean variety. Only about 5% of the cacao is of the fine or flavour cocoa bean variety so you can see how rare it is.
While traveling to different areas of Belize there seems to be a fairly wide distribution of cacao growers. The Toledo District in southern Belize seems to have the largest concentration of cacao farms. The Toledo Cacao Growers Association is based there and is very active in education and training for farmers to grow more organic cacao and practice sustainable farming techniques. They are promoting organic permaculture principles and most farms appear to be healthy and productive with a wide variety of crops grown together. The TCGA are a great role model for producing cacao crops using a winning formula for an eco friendly, organic and sustainable food and income model. When seeking cacao seedling trees there are three choices available: hybrids, grafted trees and heirloom cacao trees. After some serious searching I located some authentic belize cacao heirloom mayan native trees which we will grow for the highly coveted flavor cacao seeds.
Before Buying Land in Belize Beware
If you are thinking you might enjoy buying some land, growing cacao and living the expat dream life be fore warned. If you are thinking about buying land in Belize make sure to do deep due diligence. Be sure you seek competent legal and real estate representatives to assist you. While Belize is an English language and law country the policies, procedures and processes are different from what you may be used to back home. There are many people in Belize eager to sell you land but it may not be in your best interest to move too quickly on that deal. They may not even own the land or their “ownership” may not be the same meaning as what you may be thinking. Often a Belizean or Expat who is too eager to sell “their” land may only hold a “Crown Land” lease or nothing at all. They may own it in their mind but not have the proper documentation. There are many sad stories of Belizean or foreigners being ripped off by deals sounding too good to be true. Many properties are not current on lease payments, mortgages or taxes. Being careful and following the proper procedures can mean the difference between a happy face or heart ache. There are three forms of title for land in Belize so find a trustworthy representative to guide you.
The phrase “Caveat Emptor” which means “Buyer Beware” definitely applies in Belize. In addition to documentation, ownership and procedural issues there are other concerns to be very cautious about. Many unsuspecting foreigners are buying land they believe has certain advantages, benefits or features only to find out later this is not the case. I have met many people who get Caribbean fever and buy something without investing the energy, money and time necessary to check out the country first. Based on common sense and economics make sure you have the cash, confidence and conviction necessary to deal with the inevitable detours and speed bumps along the way. Unfortunately many beautiful day dreams turn into nasty nightmares over time. What looks like a great investment opportunity turns into a money pit that drains you emotionally, mentally and physically. In the blink of an eye you can lose thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. It could easily end up being one of the biggest mistakes you make. I know this first hand because I personally made a big mistakes in Costa Rica several years ago buying into a fractional ownership condo. That story is for another blog post.
Belize Eco Village Community Code of Conduct
Our Seventh Generation Community Code of Conduct for guests and residents will declare our intention to follow outstanding organics, self sufficiency and sustainability. We will avoid the spraying of synthetic chemical compounds (fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and pesticides) on our property. These synthetic chemical compounds are harmful and toxic to people, plants and the planet. We will promote and support holistic health remedies, natural nutrition and proven permaculture principles. The long and short tern consequences are too risky to the animals, bees, birds, butterflies and beautiful people living in our Belize Eco Village community to allow the use of harmful products. We will maintain very high standards for living in a chemical free environment to protect our clean air, food, homes, soil and water.
In spite of the greening disease being widespread in Belize we will be planting grapefruits, lemons, limes, oranges and tangerines using a variety of natural, organic and permaculture principles to help our trees avoid disease. Late February or March is the normal beginning of dry season so it is not the time to plant now. Now is the time to start preparing the land to be planted with some light clearing and building the soil with cover crops which encourage more natural organic matter and organisms. At the beginning of the next rainy season (June, July or August) and near a full moon we will begin planting a wide variety of cacao, citrus and coconut trees in various prepared locations on the property. We will also plant companion crops like bananas, beans, madre cacao, plantains and vine crops like cantelope, squash and watermelon. We will also have chickens, ducks, geese and guinea fowl in the future to eat bugs and fertilize the soil. We will also be using compost tea, micro organisms and natural bug repellent trees like neem.
Healthy Habits & Habitats
In 2017 the Great NEWS will focus fifty percent on Healthy Habits and fifty percent on Healthy Habitats and Sustainability Strategies. We are also designing our new Belize Eco Village master planned community land plan. My passion project is to interview, research and visit super sustainability projects to learn, mentor and role model them. The vision is to attract a wide variety of eco-conscious and passionate people to help design, build and live in an eco friendly, healthy and sustainable community. Imagine a piece of paradise where people will live, retire, visit and work while enjoying an even more happy, healthy and in harmony lifestyle. We will focus on ideas, insights and inspiration as we provide more progress pictures and vivid videos about stewardship and sustainability. Stay tuned for progress posts with steps, strategies, suggestions and systems to develop the 149 acres of pristine Caribbean pine ridge and riparian forest into a Belize Eco Village master planned eco community.
Where is Your Gap?
What behaviors, beliefs and decisions about your habits and habitats are harming your health and the planet? What will it take for you to protect your family, self and the planet from damage, degradation and destruction? How can you stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution instead?
Mastery Action Plan (MAP)
It is well documented that most fake, fast and junk foods harm us while fresh foods help us. There is a wealth of wisdom on my blog and the internet regarding a wide variety of healthy habits and health hazards. What are you willing to do differently to protect your self and your planet with better choices? A healthy habits and healthy habitat code of conduct and mastery action plan will enhance the quality of life for everyone. Are you ready to do your personal part for rapid real results?
Call to Action
What comments, commitments or concerns come to mind regarding the many benefits of healthy habits and healthy habitats? Are you ready to learn more and join our terrific team?
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Next Great NEWS blog:
Belize is Crazy for Coconuts