While in Bali, Farmer Don and I explored the middle of the island Bali where most of the food is produced for the island. They have the PERFECT conditions. Rich, volcanic soil full of nutrients, stable temperatures (25 degrees all year round) and Mother Nature irrigates with consistent rain. We decided if we ever move here we would live in Bedugul, a lovely farming town beside one of their 3 freshwater lakes nestled in the mountains.
We visited CAU Chocolate, a company that grows cacao beans and processes them into chocolate and cocoa butter. My paradise because, well, I love chocolate!
We learned so much about the history of cacao (it comes from Central America and the Mayans - I even attended a cacao ceremony in Victoria a few years ago) and how it is grown. They need so many trees to make a small amount of chocolate. The trees bloom with 6,000+ blooms and the flowers touch each other to pollinate! No bees required (although we have seen some of the biggest bees ever here).
I got to harvest a fruit and once it was opened we saw the beans in a white film-like substance that was bitter but tasted like melon. They ferment the beans for 6 days, dry them, take the hulls off, break them into cacao nibs, press them to extract cocoa oil, and are left with cocoa powder. Then they mix some of the cocoa butter and the cocoa powder to make chocolate! If it's milk chocolate they add milk.
CAU is Organic. They told us there are two pests - a beetle and a borer - that they have to battle (I WISH we only had two). They make an organic pesticide using Mexican Sunflower, Citronella and galangal. So interesting! CAU buys cacao beans from other local farms but they are inspected to ensure they follow organic practices and CAU teaches them how to ferment and dry the beans so they can earn income from value added. We really love how Balinese THINK about the health and growth of the community.