A new space to make magic with cocoa

Filed Under: EARTH News
Date: May 31st, 2022

Did you know that at EARTH we prepare delicious, aromatic, and extremely special chocolate?

Our chocolate.

It all started in 2012 when we began to grow cocoa at our Organic Integral Farm. In 2014, we had the first harvest, which began with the drying and fermentation process, leading to a magical procedure: the creation of chocolate. Ivannia Sanchez, Head of the Value-Added Unit of the Food Processing Laboratory (LPA) initiated the project together with fourth-year students who were doing their Professional Experience at the time. For years, those who were part of the chocolate-making process worked in a small laboratory where they produced around 24 kilos of chocolate per week.

The new laboratory looks like this on the inside.

In 2019, USAID’s American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) program approved a budget to change these conditions. Thanks to this important funding, we began building a new cocoa processing plant and purchased all the necessary equipment to streamline and perfect each step. The construction of the plant has great didactic and academic benefits and allows us to prepare up to 500 kilos of high-quality chocolate weekly. Here students will be able to learn about the entire cocoa production chain, from planting and harvesting to chocolate processing and marketing.

Tasting our chocolate.

On March 31 of this year, we inaugurated the new cocoa processing laboratory and opened a new stage in the transformation and growth of a project that has inspired hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and visitors. In addition, another infrastructure project was made possible thanks to ASHA’s contribution: the expansion of the CATIE Inter-American School based at EARTH, which now has 2 new classrooms and bathrooms, this meant granting new living spaces to implement shared American best practices in English language education, science and technology and offering advanced courses, such as AP courses, dual degrees, and partnerships with American universities.

Ivannia Sanchez during the inauguration.

Since 2003, ASHA has worked with our University on more than 16 projects that advance our mutual commitment to environmental sustainability, holistic education, and the human values that the United States shares with our mission. Through these partnerships, we share and learn from each other and spread solidarity and hope throughout the rest of the world. Thanks to their contribution, we have been able to shape a new infrastructure that works not only to improve the quality of the experiential education students receive, but also the lifestyle of the entire community, the knowledge shared with small farmers, and the experience of making wonderful chocolate.

Thank you ASHA for supporting our mission!