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Caribbean & World

Chocolate and Honey Heaven in Grenada, by Travel Writers

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By Nicola Bridges

The Spice Isle of Grenada in the Caribbean West Indies is known for its tropical lushness, azure seas lapping white, palm-tree-sprinkled beaches and jagged coves — and just that, the fragrant array of spices this island paradise has been providing the world dating back to the 1600s. Its natural-grown nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric, curry, cardamom, coriander, pepper, saffron and more were, literally, worth more than their weight in gold and caused wars between continents fighting to ship these island delights back to Europe.

While I spend a morning perusing the outdoor Spice Market in the capital of St. George’s to load up my suitcase with bags of fresh, pungent and exotic food flavorings, I’m more attracted to the island’s being the home to award-winning honey and dark chocolate made from Grenada’s organic cacao bean harvest, so rich in its percentage of cocoa that even in the high-temperature humidity of the tropics it barely ever melts.

Environmental scientist Dr. Jessamine Eden calls herself an accidental bee keeper. She developed the Jessamine Eden Apiary on her eponymously named Eden Wellness Farm while restoring the 60-acre plantation property within the Greenville Vale Estate as she was embarking on a conservation project to preserve Grenada’s natural plants.

“One happy summer day about 10 years ago swarms of bees started to darken the garden. The workers were running around fleeing while I was thinking ‘Wow, bees, honey!'” she remembers, beaming her big, ever-present smile.

Just 15 minutes from St. George’s in a verdant valley hugged by the dense, vivid green growth of the southern slopes of the Grand Etang hills, Eden Wellness Farm is an island zone with multiple climates and flowing streams and springs. Together this makes a perfect home for Grenada’s native bees to produce top-grade, pure, un-adulterated organic honey from the blossoms of the vast array of large trees (including the ylang ylang that gives Chanel No. 5 its notable fragrance) and from native blooming plants as well as medicinal flowering herbs that include lemongrass and black sage.

We meander down pretty paths that weave through the garden past banana palms and along an avenue of pink poui blossom trees, their beds lush with 100-year-old lilies transplanted from Eden’s grandmother’s garden. She names the plants, breaking off a stem here and there to smell or chew. We take a break at a large outdoor kitchen and eat soursop fruit (a flavor combo of papaya, pineapple and banana) while a worker hacks fresh green coconuts off a tree with a machete and we drink the milk out of a small hole before scooping out the still-gelatinous coconut flesh.

Refreshed, we cut across the plantation’s long grass driveway to the apiary area and step into a small observation building nestled into a wall. I watch transfixed — thankful for the glass partition — as each colony’s queen bee and her army of thousands of buzzing worker bees are busy in the hives producing Eden Farm’s annual 300 pounds of sweet liquid gold.

We end our personal tour in the tasting room, where honeycomb-shaped shelves display crystal decanters full of award-winning honeys from consecutive years past. Eden pours small dripping spoonfuls for us to savor, from light to dark brown with increasing intensities of sweetness and flavor. It’s the perfect preamble to sampling an even darker sweetness at my next stop.

Belmont Estate, another 45 minutes from St. George’s, is an authentic 17th-century plantation made up of original stone buildings and its piece de resistance — a traditional Grenadian chocolate factory turning cacao beans into some of the world’s finest chocolate. Even though it’s known for its high cocoa content (some of the darkest chocolate, deemed by science to have health benefits as one of nature’s “good fats,” contains 84%), Belmont Estate chocolate is far from bitter. Flavored with nutmeg and spices, vanilla or just plain, just a couple of Chiclet-size pieces are enough to satisfy any sweet tooth.

The beans are still dried, as they have been going back centuries, on giant trays pulled out of a low dark barn on iron tracks to dry. A staged chocolate factory museum showcases vintage cocoa butter churns and molding machines. But a modern building is where the magic happens, and today’s Belmont Estate chocolate is handmade. A steel vat churns the cocoa into a dark, buttery paste before being poured into bar molds. I buy a box of square bars in brightly colored wrapping to take home for myself and family, still worried — though I needn’t be — that it will melt in my case (it doesn’t).

The gourmet open-air restaurant on the estate serves a curry buffet with traditional natural hot cocoa, far from the oversweet and overprocessed hot chocolate we’re used to stateside. As an example of Grenada’s agritourism showcasing the island’s crops and farming in a learning environment, visiting kids run up a grass lane past an enclosure of tortoises to the donkey stables and the estate’s goat farm.

With chocolate and honey added to my spice stash, Grenada has proven to be a delightfully delicious trip to a tropical island where the sun is hot; the ocean a refreshing respite from the humid, hanging air; and the days are long and lazy.

WHEN YOU GO

Jessamine Eden Apiary at Eden Wellness Farm: www.jessamine-eden.com

Belmont Estate: www.belmontestate.net

A worker at the Eden Wellness Farm in Grenada opens a coconut for guests to try. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

 Cacao beans at Belmont Estate in Grenada dry in the sunshine. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

Cacao beans at Belmont Estate in Grenada dry in the sunshine. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

 A beekeeper arrives to work at the Eden Wellness Farm in Grenada. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

A beekeeper arrives to work at the Eden Wellness Farm in Grenada. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

Nicola Bridges is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Cacao beans at Belmont Estate in Grenada dry in the sunshine. Photo courtesy of Nicola Bridges.

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Caribbean & World

New and second chances through education

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Two of the country’s outstanding ‘second chance’ organisations, New Life Organisation (NEWLO) and Grenada Community Development Agency (GRENCODA), received funds to help their worthy causes recently.

NEWLO was started in 1984 and has worked tirelessly to sensitise individuals and the nation as a whole to the importance of teaching technical and vocational skills to ensure the country has a strong labour force. In a society which has historically placed heavier emphasis on academia, this has required tenacity and determination on the part of the organisations members, in their continued belief that NEWLO was, and is needed and must remain sustainable.

Many of the young people benefitting from organisations assistance come from challenging, sometimes even violent and abusive family backgrounds. NEWLO stands firmly behind its namesake, in offering them the opportunity to change their life’s direction, by becoming skilled and productive members of society. The Student Assistance Programme (SAP) initiated by GRENCODA, in 1986, for children from vulnerable and poor families is committed to providing support for the completion of secondary level education, to help youth break free from the poverty cycle. Some of these also graduate through NEWLO.

From hospitality arts to plumbing, computer engineering to fashion design, NEWLO is committed to giving young persons the tools to transform their own lives and futures. More than 5,000 students have graduated from NEWLO and more recently the organisation has opened its doors to more mature students, who may not have finished primary or secondary school education and single mothers.

Sasha Matthews and GRENCODA Secretary, Ariel Henry

CIBC FirstCaribbean, Country Manager Nigel Ollivierre, was pleased to sanction the bank’s donations to both GRENCODA and NEWLO, he commented, “organisations which look after the education of our country’s citizens, and provide new opportunities for purposeful and productive lives are a necessity in our society.”

He continued, “We join with NEWLO in encouraging as many individuals as possible to support their annual fundraising event, the NEWLO family day luncheon. We have been advised that a full buffet lunch, fashion show by the NEWLO trainees, fun bingo and live entertainment are already planned. Entrance funds will be used to support NEWLO initiatives for their students. We wish both organisations continued success and promise the bank’s support,” he concluded.

The NEWLO Family Day will be held at the residence of former Governor-General, Sir Daniel and Lady Gloria Williams, in Westerhall, St David on Sunday, 27 October 2019, from 1 pm.

CIBC FirstCaribbean

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Caribbean & World

Tour guides complete phase one of Aquila International Certification training

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More than 30 tour guides in Grenada completed phase one of training facilitated by the Aquila Centre for Cruise Excellence, the official training partner of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).

Sponsored by the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), the four-day training course was an opportunity for the tour guides to become master storytellers about the experiences in their country while becoming the first to have the opportunity to receive internationally recognised certification.

The course was facilitated by Claudine Pohl, Manager, International Business Development and Training at Aquila. Topics covered included, the art of storytelling, customer service excellence, daily preparation and problem-solving. The tour guides were very engaged and were happy to receive the opportunity ahead of the 2019/2020 Winter Cruise Ship Season.

Patricia Maher, Claudine Pohl, and Dean, School of Applied Arts & Technology, TAMCC, Marlene Finlay with 4 students awarded free Aquila online courses

Pohl indicated that the tour guides will now have to pass two assessments before they can receive their certification. One assessment is a multiple-choice exam in which they will need to secure a 70% pass rate or higher followed by a video component in which they will display their newly learned skills.

Apart from the participants thanking the GTA and Aquila Inc for the timely training, Co-ordinator of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) at the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), Yvette Payne, said, “The programme was insightful and comprehensive. We will certainly incorporate aspects of this training into the taxi and tour guide certification programme we offer at the TAMCC.”

As part of the training, Pohl conducted two complimentary cruise tourism lectures with students of the Hospitality programme and newly implemented Tourism Studies programme at TAMCC. At the end of the lectures, Pohl presented five students with free online certification courses from Aquila.

Nautical Development Manager at the GTA, Nikoyan Roberts, congratulated the participants saying, “This is your opportunity to become the first in Grenada to be internationally certified. We look forward to better reviews coming from our visitors after experiencing your quality service.”

Addressing the participants, GTA CEO Patricia Maher urged the tour guides present to form an association. She said, “Forming an association will be critical to your development and your ability to take advantage of opportunities for training and certification. Working together as a group will be more professional, and together we are stronger.”

The training took place at the National Stadium from 9-12 September.

Grenada Tourism Authority

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Caribbean & World

Tour guides complete phase one of Aquila International Certification training

Published

on

By

More than 30 tour guides in Grenada completed phase one of training facilitated by the Aquila Centre for Cruise Excellence, the official training partner of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).

Sponsored by the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA), the four-day training course was an opportunity for the tour guides to become master storytellers about the experiences in their country while becoming the first to have the opportunity to receive internationally recognised certification.

The course was facilitated by Claudine Pohl, Manager, International Business Development and Training at Aquila. Topics covered included, the art of storytelling, customer service excellence, daily preparation and problem-solving. The tour guides were very engaged and were happy to receive the opportunity ahead of the 2019/2020 Winter Cruise Ship Season.

Patricia Maher, Claudine Pohl, and Dean, School of Applied Arts & Technology, TAMCC, Marlene Finlay with 4 students awarded free Aquila online courses

Pohl indicated that the tour guides will now have to pass two assessments before they can receive their certification. One assessment is a multiple-choice exam in which they will need to secure a 70% pass rate or higher followed by a video component in which they will display their newly learned skills.

Apart from the participants thanking the GTA and Aquila Inc for the timely training, Co-ordinator of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) at the TA Marryshow Community College (TAMCC), Yvette Payne, said, “The programme was insightful and comprehensive. We will certainly incorporate aspects of this training into the taxi and tour guide certification programme we offer at the TAMCC.”

As part of the training, Pohl conducted two complimentary cruise tourism lectures with students of the Hospitality programme and newly implemented Tourism Studies programme at TAMCC. At the end of the lectures, Pohl presented five students with free online certification courses from Aquila.

Nautical Development Manager at the GTA, Nikoyan Roberts, congratulated the participants saying, “This is your opportunity to become the first in Grenada to be internationally certified. We look forward to better reviews coming from our visitors after experiencing your quality service.”

Addressing the participants, GTA CEO Patricia Maher urged the tour guides present to form an association. She said, “Forming an association will be critical to your development and your ability to take advantage of opportunities for training and certification. Working together as a group will be more professional, and together we are stronger.”

The training took place at the National Stadium from 9-12 September.

Grenada Tourism Authority

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