Grenadian Chocolate Diary – a working weekend

Today’s post is a taste of life in Grenada from James, Rococo’s Chairman, who is in Grenada for a month supporting the Grenada Chocolate Company and overseeing the next batch of chocolate from our own cocoa farm. It sounds as though James is enjoying immersing himself in island life.

 

Day 5

It might be Friday, but it’s certainly not the end of the working week at the GCC as there is a large order to get ready. Today will be another double wrapping shift with some of the crew quietly getting on with up to 12 hours of work in the air-conditioned wrapping room.

In the afternoon Persha, the company’s bookkeeper, arrives. She is a full-time teacher at a local school and also has a one year old baby so her time is precious for us, and she holds many of the keys to clarifying the financial position of the business.

We are also visited by the GCC’s accountant, Mr Dion, and his 2 associates. Mr Dion has a nice mix of solid business sense and joviality, always an important attribute but perhaps particularly in his chosen profession.  He will be critical in helping work out the GCC’s financial & tax position and negotiation with the revenue department.

Persha learns about my Taurean qualities as I quiz her late into the evening on the GCC’s overheads – one of my main tasks is to establish a clear profit & loss ledger for the business which will help with many core issues facing the business.

At last it’s back to Petite Anse for a very quick bite of seared yellow fin tuna, then it’s lights out!

 

View across to the islands

View across the Grenadines

Day 6

Another full day’s production at the GCC this Saturday, but the first part of my day is spent moving to Annie and Philip’s house, a plantation house built by the Copelands (a post-emancipation local plantocracy). It is simultaneously a reminder of Grenada’s difficult past and a wonderful place to be, perched be high up Mt Rodney above Petit Anse. The view here speaks for itself. Like chocolate and wine, it is pointless comparing the great views of the world – beauty and taste is largely in the eye of the beholder, and for me the mix of sea, sun, sky, mountains and islands is irresistible.

The afternoon is spent with Kaciann on organic certification, an annual rite of passage which Mott had always masterminded. We go through the requirements of the organic management plan, which this year must include all additional cash crops which the cooperative intends to sell.

This is one significant bonus of the organic system for the farmer, especially for the cocoa farmer. Cocoa naturally grows best in a mixed environment with plenty of ‘shade’ trees, especially when the cocoa is young, so other fruit trees are a natural addition to the farm. The Grococo land has passion fruit, avocado, soursop, banana, plantain, local almond and many other lesser known fruits like golden apple and jack fruit, and these are a potential source of crucial additional income. It seems we will have to build up a tree inventory for the different properties, so some serious exercise is in the offing.

As the evening draws in Edmond gets the BBQ going and has made a trip to Grenville for yellow fin tuna and bonito in jerk marinade. I contribute my Japanese pumpkin ‘nimono’ recipe, and we wash it down with some Chilean sauvignon blanc – home from home!

My Kabocha Nimono recipe as photographed by James Murphy for Chantal's book, Mastering the Art of Chocolate

My Kabocha Nimono recipe as photographed by James Murphy for Chantal’s book, Mastering the Art of Chocolate

 

Day 7 

I’m woken early by what anywhere else in the world would be called a gale, whipping up a sea mist so the islands are invisible. Philip, my host and the Ironman of the over-60s in Grenada, is out on a 12 mile ‘warm down’ run, and I go down to the factory to help move some sugar as Edmond has decided to prepare some fresh chocolate so that the wrapping crew can hit the ground running on Monday morning. He won’t get much of a day off today!

Driving through the villages I catch hearty hymns being belted out from buildings I wouldn’t have guessed were churches, with a fervor that has largely been lost in England. It’s a reminder of Grenada’s very strong Christian community (here, as in the England, some fresh ministerial blood has come in from Ireland and Africa) whether it be Anglican, Catholic, 7th Day Adventist or indeed Jehovah’s Witness.

An anticipated quiet evening with my guitar is most pleasantly scuppered by the promise of meeting two Grenadian legends down at the hotel. It’s hard to believe that Jeanne Fisher and Annamaria Rocafort are both around ninety – it just shows what life on the island can do for you! Jeanne, born in Mexico to American parents, settled in Grenada many decades ago and opened arts and crafts boutique Tikal (a stockist of Grenada Chocolate). She is well travelled in Latin America and slips easily into Spanish with Annamaria, who has an equally colourful background having been born in Spain and brought up in Germany, before escaping before the war and ending up in Grenada 40 years ago. [email protected] was a very early investors in the north of Grenada; Philip and Annie bought the land for Petite Anse from her and have remained friends since.

I hope to see them again to chat in a smaller crowd and hear more about their extraordinary lives…

 

Catch up on earlier instalments of James’ diary here:

Settling in at the chocolate factory

It’s good to be back

 

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