December 19, 2018 – In effort to preserve and propagate fine flavor cacao, some of which are rare, wild and ancient types, the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP) has built nurseries, set up experimental farm plots and trained local farmers in cultivation techniques at three Heirloom designee sites.

The best tasting chocolate in the world starts with the finest cacao. But fine flavor cacao is poised for extinction. The chocolate industry in general is focused on chocolate as a commodity and supports programs that replenish cacao orchards with cacao tress bred to produce high yields and are disease resistant – not bad attributes at all – but flavor has never been a consideration. We are fighting to change that one farm at a time.

If we don’t protect cacao biodiversity, a world of boring chocolate that all tastes the same will eventually dominate. Remember what happened to tomatoes and strawberries? Concern for high yield took over consideration of flavor, and now we are left with mostly bland tasting tomatoes and strawberries in our super markets.

Don’t let that happen to chocolate! Buy chocolate the tastes really good even if it costs more. See the fine chocolate makers and chocolatiers using Heirloom cacao.

”It is through the efforts of those who love fine chocolate and the determination of farm families to protect the cacao from which it is made, that has resulted in this remarkable progress.” Dan Pearson, HCP President

About the new HCP Nursery Projects

This work has been conducted as a part of an 18-month grant awarded to HCP by the Lesley Family Foundation, operating from December 2017 to June 2019.  A year into their projects, the three participating Heirloom designees have successfully conducted training and laid the foundation for the preservation of fine flavor cacao in the Latin America region.


  • HCP Designee #5, Cooperativa Nueva Esperanza, Puerto Quito, Ecuador has established a nursery, conducted training of local farmers on grafting seedlings and mature trees. They are developing best management practices with the objective to successfully propagate and transfer 600 grafted Heirloom cacao seedlings to the fields. The project team developed a data collection system to track, analyze and determine the healthiest and most productive trees on their farm for future propagation.


  • HCP Designee #7, Maya Mountain Cacao Ltd. Farmer Network, is a specialty cacao sourcing company working across the Toledo, Stann Creek and Cayo Districts of Belize. They are working to identity ten mother trees that are specifically selected for desirable traits and create a 1-acre clonal garden that will be the first Heirloom certified gene bank in Belize for Belize-specific genetics.


  • HCP Designee #11, the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) nature reserve, is propagating the designated cacao beans population of wild, genetically pure Criollo cacao trees found on its reserve in southern Belize. BFREE has established a nursery, grafted seedlings and mature trees, and conducted extensive training of their staff in micro-grafting, side-grafting, data collection and best management practices to ensure a sustainable path to the Heirloom cacao production.

To read the full mid-term report on the specific progress that has been made by the three Heirloom designees, please email Anne Zaczek for a copy.