One thing that we got to learn about while learning about chocolate production is the differences in large and small cacao farms in Costa Rica. The first farm we visited was owned by a man named Edwin, who owned and operated his farm with only the help of his wife and one employee. He gave us a tour of his farm, on which he not only specializes in cacao, but also grows a wide variety of things such as vanilla, plantains, pineapple, and many other plants. He let us try everything straight off the trees, and everything was so delicious! The most amazing thing to see at Edwin’s farm was the passion that he has for what he does and how hardworking he is.
The next farm that we visited a few days later was La Dorada. It started as a father and son cacao farm, and has grown into an international-selling cacao company. In the grand scheme, they are a mid-sized farm, but they were much larger than Edwin’s farm. An interesting difference between the two farms was that where Edwin grew many different types of foods, La Dorada focused only on producing cacao in order to maximize production and quantity. They believed that it was better to only focus on mass producing their cacao and improving the quality of it than wasting any resources or time on anything else.
It was really amazing to see the farm culture of Costa Rica first hand and how much it can vary depending on the priorities and purposes of the farms. It was very interesting to get to compare and contrast the two farms and their techniques, as well as their efforts, accomplishments, and values. I will always appreciate the opportunity we had to see these two farms and learn about how much they, and other farms like them, mean to the economy and culture of Costa Rica.