I'll never forget the first time I saw a cacao pod in the jungle. After tromping through waist high 'buffalo grass'... I saw rows of 10 foot tall trees hidden beneath the shade of towering jungle canopy.
Later, I learned cacao is referred to as an 'understory crop'. Understory crops cannot survive without the shade of the 'overstory' jungle canopy to shade them. Thus, the success of the cacao tree is naturally linked to the abundance of its flourishing surroundings.
The idea of chocolate as the key to preserving the jungle electrified me from head to toe. Here my journey began, learning how to steward these incredible trees as a cacao farmer, and to later take this crop to market as a chocolate maker.