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The Belize Foundation for Research and Environmental Education (BFREE) was founded in 1995 with the primary mission of preserving the tropical rainforests of Belize. To achieve this goal, BFREE acquired 1,153 acres of forested land and established a privately protected area and biological field station strategically located at the foothills of the Maya Mountains.
Over 20 years ago, Jacob Marlin, BFREE’s Executive Director, discovered a remnant population of ancient wild Cacao trees on the BFREE private nature reserve. The beans from the wild trees were submitted for flavor analysis and genetic testing to the Heirloom Cacao Preservation Fund (HCP). The results determined that this cacao is genetically 100% pure Criollo parentage with exceptional flavor, and in 2016 received “Heirloom Fine Flavor” Designation from HCP.
As a result of this discovery, BFREE began a project to preserve and propagate this rare and wild ancient cacao while investigating its economic, social, and environmental benefits. Today, over 15 acres of cacao are growing in an agroforestry environment, where wildlife like Jaguars, Tapirs, Howler monkeys, Harpy eagles, and Scarlet macaws make their home.
Click here for more details on the farm's Heirloom cacao.