We welcome you dear CrowdFarmers to our farm. We are Kim Russell and Lylette Primell – the hearts behind this life long project. Crayfish Bay Organics is a 200 year old, 7,5 hectare cocoa plantation located in the small coastal village of Non-Pareil, St. Mark. The plantation got its name from the river which flows through it, which up until today is home to wild crayfish.
The plantation first belonged to the French settlers on the island from 1650 until the late 1700’s. During that time it was predominantly used to cultivate sugarcane and produced its own rum. Small quantities of cocoa, coffee and short crops for the slaves were also grown. Even today one can still marvel at the remains of the rum distillery, dams, reservoirs and other artefacts dating as far back as the mid 1600’s. From the late 1700’s the British colonizers took over the plantation and started to focus on cocoa instead. By the mid 1800’s Crayfish Bay Estate had been entirely converted into a cocoa plantation.
In 2006 we stumbled upon the plantation, which by then had been abandoned and severely damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Emily in 2005 and the rest was simply fate. Our love for organic farming and for nature allowed us to quickly envision what we wanted to create with Crayfish Bay. We have since restored the main plantation house and the old boucans, we have rehabilitated the farm and brought the old cocoa trees back to their original glory. In 2010 we officially gained organic certification from CERES GmbH and are now proud to have made Crayfish Bay Estate into a fully-functioning, organically certified cocoa and Tree-to-Bar chocolate farm.
Crayfish Bay Organics is a biologically diverse mixed plantation where nutmeg, several fruit and citrus trees, banana and coconut, just to name a few, all grown in a harmonious symbiose together with our almost 3000 cocoa trees. Monoculture is absolutely tabu. Due to the hilly terrain the majority of our farming is done using traditional, manual techniques such as cutlassing. We practice companion planting with banana and promote the cultivation of leguminous trees which provide a dapple shade for the cocoa and fix nitrogen in the soil. We prune and care for our cocoa trees after every season. After pruning, the branches are heaped up at the base of the trees and left to decompose naturally, creating a natural habitat for beneficial insects and birds. We produce our own compost on the farm from cocoa waste, seaweed, garden trimmings, saw dust, fowl manure and bagasse from the nearby rum factory and use this to fertilize the trees. The only source of water for our trees is rainwater.
Organic for us is a holistic ideology. It is not only limited to chemicals, insecticides or pesticides but instead encompasses the way we treat nature, the environment and each other. St. Mark is the poorest parish in Grenada. Out of the almost 300 villagers in Non-Pareil the vast majority are under the age of 40 and an estimated 70% without permanent employment.
We run the entire farm together with 2 persons from the village and hire several more for temporary jobs. We have developed our own internal “fairtrade” system with our farm workers. Our workers do not receive a fixed wage. Instead we have given them full control over the entire plantation. They care for the cocoa trees and sell the wet beans to us at the end of each season for a top price. They are allowed to cultivate other crops on the land for their personal use or that of their extended family and friends and even sell them and as such secure an additional source of income when cocoa is not in season. We have all been working together as a team since 2006. We have become a family that looks after the needs of each other. Crayfish Bay Organic Plantation belongs to all of us and we are proud to have given our workers the chance to become independent farmers, who take pride in the land and in their work.