HCP Heirloom Cacao 11

BFREE Demonstration Cacao Farm,
BFREE Private Reserve, Toledo District, Belize

Provided by Jacob Marlin, BFREE

Designated 2016

Bursary Sponsor: Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli

Discover Heirloom Designated Cacao Farming in Belize

The criollo parentage cacao trees on the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) nature reserve are growing in virgin, primary rain forest, under a heavy tall canopy. The trees are widely and randomly dispersed, presumably having been propagated by natural means. The BFREE demonstration farm is located on a 1153 acre private reserve that borders 1,500,000 acres of tropical rainforest within the Maya Mountains of southern Belize. Numerous cacao varieties are grown organically under a tall tropical rainforest canopy where wildlife abounds including Jaguars, Tapirs, Howler Monkeys, Harpy Eagles, Scarlet Macaws, and countless other species of wildlife.

Jacob Marlin was born in Washington D.C. and moved to Belize in 1993.  He started a 501c3 non-profit organization, the Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) in 1994, and established a Biological Research and Environmental Educational Field Station on a private reserve in a remote part of southern Belize in the Maya Mountains. As Executive Director of the organization, Mr. Marlin is using organic shade grown Cacao as one of many tools to help restore and conserve tropical rainforests in Belize.

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Learn About the HCP Nursery Projects

In 2018 and 2019, BFREE was awarded two HCP grants funded by the Lesley Family Foundation to support the preservation of their heirloom designated cacao.

The projects support the generation of data for mechanistic process-based crop simulation models for an ancient wild criollo cacao, which are useful tools for maximizing the efficiency of crop management ultimately improving profits to growers. In the previous grant project supported by LFF and HCP, activities and interventions created the bases for establishing this research and knowledge generation program, however, it is now necessary to establish it more formally, through the definition of the areas of experimentation, the variables to be measured, and the development of the experimental protocols. Additionally, the project requires the infrastructure necessary to store, manage, and safeguard the information. At the same time, conditions will be established for the conservation of germplasm in situ (wild cacao trees and a clonal garden).

The main objectives of the project is to conserve the genetics of criollo cacao and generate knowledge about its ecology and potential of production through: a) develop species and cultivar dependent parameters separately for various cacao types, which can be applicable under a range of environmental, soil types and management conditions, b) develop a mechanistic process level simulation model for cacao that mimics the fundamental biotic and abiotic processes in the soil-plant-atmosphere system, c) evaluate model performance for various cacao varieties over a range of spatial and temporal scales, environmental and management conditions and locations d) develop application methods to validate cacao simulation models to evaluate current and alternative management protocols to minimize resource requirements and improve the quality. Integrate these models with precision agriculture approaches to improve in-season estimates of productivity.

To read the most recent program report, contact HCP Executive Director, Anne Zaczek at info@hcpcacao.org

Jacob Marlin, Executive Director, BFREE, is also a member of the HCP Board of Directors. Due to the specialized sub-sector of the cacao industry that HCP is working to preserve, there may be times our board members are directly involved with our programs. Through the counsel of our lawyer HCP has put a policy in place to ensure there is no conflict of interest. 

Belizean chocolate made from Heirloom designated farms

Crioco Contact information: Jacob Marlin criococacao@gmail.com

Tasting Panel Notes

Very mild intensity overall with smooth emergence of a very mild chocolate intensity.  This is combined with the simultaneous emergence of a rich mild, lightly roasted nut base that is accompanied by a caramel and mild panella browned sweetness with a “creamy” character. A pleasant lightly floral green tea / spice note emerges in the center taste and finishes with a nut / slightly spice.

USDA Genetic Profile for cacao beans from Belize cacao farm trees

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