At their ecological research centre and Farmer’s University, the Community have developed ways of growing which incorporate permaculture techniques, such as mixed planting and composting, so they don’t need to buy pesticides and fertilizers. They also aim to be energetically autonomous, and are developing new strategies constantly, such as bio gas and solar panels.
Lush is the main buyer of the Community’s cacao, which we ship to Europe to be processed into cocoa butter and powder. We bought our first 25 tonne shipment of cocoa beans in 2010, and then supported the Community’s application to become certified Fair Trade and Organic producers. Jesús Emilio says: “The relationship with Lush arrived at a point when the Community was losing hope in the idea of exporting our products. Lush gave us hope again - and the close relationship between us has been amazing at an emotional level.” Over the last three years, Lush has worked with the Community to improve their ability to dry, store and export the beans. Arley explains: “Lush collects the cacao directly from our storage, and that allows us a lot more security. In the past we were robbed but now that we have strengthened our production process we don’t face such risks as before.”
On March 23, the Community will gather to celebrate their 17th anniversary. “For the Community, the anniversary is a great moment, a very deep and spiritual moment,” explains Jesús Emilio. “It is a special time because people from all the settlements that make up the Community, as well as other friends and allies, come to commemorate the occasion. Together, we remember all the years we have had, and look forward to the challenges that we must face.”
We hope through collaborating with PBI and sharing the experiences of Jesús Emilio and Arley we can help to spread their inspirational message of peace.