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St Lucia & Rabot
In 2006 we purchased a cacao estate in Saint Lucia, and began to learn about cacao farming. We revitalised the farm, which is now certified organic. We worked with universities to identify and propagate our strongest seedlings. Over the coming years, we built a network of ‘Island Growers’ for sharing better farming practices. And, crucially, we ensured premium, guaranteed crop prices for all farmers, no matter the size of their yield.
By empowering our Island Growers to employ truly sustainable, climate-resilient farming methods such as biodiverse shade-growing and increased support during harvest times to protect the land, we are able to ensure genuine cacao sustainability.
We call it Gentle Farming.
We’ve distributed tens of thousands of high-quality cacao seedlings and, by paying premium prices for every cacao bean each farmer grows, have helped revitalise the cacao industry across the island.
Right from the start, our vision was to create more economic value within the community by building our hotel on the estate, and to share with visitors the experience of how chocolate is made. The award-winning Rabot Hotel opened in 2011 and we’re now expanding it with a pioneering Tree to Bar experience. Showing the world the magnificence of growing truly sustainable, fine cacao and the products we are proud to make from it.
We believe gentle farming makes our chocolate taste better. Not only do we know that our cacao is the finest around, we know we are leaving things better than we found them.
An interview with: Patricia Lamontage
“Bananas used to be called the ‘green gold’. Now cacao is the ‘brown gold’. Today, I sell 10 times more cacao than I sold before. This is what I tell farmers when I see them. Why waste time? Go into cacao. We have a buyer at Hotel Chocolat."
“Hotel Chocolat’s subsidised cacao plants helped me replace all our old trees that had died. I bought them by the hundreds. We planted ten acres, with banana and coconut trees in between for shade. We hired two workers to help us maintain them. Now, we’re harvesting so much! They have the best flavour as well. The quality is much better. I know because I make cacao tea twice a week and my children love it."
“Cacao farming is my passion. I enjoy the work, picking and breaking the cacao. It’s fun. It’s healthy. You’re getting exercise and using your energy. I love walking the estate in the late afternoon, around 5pm, when it’s not too hot. The birds are flying low and getting ready to settle for the evening. It feels very calm. That’s the time I enjoy the most."
“Farmers who plant cacao can employ a lot of people looking for work. I tell them, please register with Hotel Chocolat because they’ll buy all the cacao you plant. I’ve now introduced eight cacao farmers to Hotel Chocolat."
“One day, my children will follow in my footsteps. They’re going to continue planting and taking care of the cacao. If you sell the land, the money will eventually be gone. But keep the estate going, and you’ll always have an income.”