• Michael Gallo

How 1 Cacao Farmer Inspired my life forever

In life we all have particular moments that spark us to new heights and we become more enlightened in our way of living. I have been fortunate to have a unique journey. I have always had many hats to wear and many experiences that have truly molded me into who I am today. In a lot of cases, we choose a path and continue that path for years. We learn to adjusts and continue our lives in the best way we can. I can say that in every decade I have been in a new career or a new venture so far.

In 2013, I had the chance to go on a mission trip with some really great co workers and students to the Dominican Republic. In my later blogs, I will go in much more detail of my trip but this story is specific to a cacao farmer, or we can call him a chocolate farmer.During the trip we had a day to explore. On this particular day we visited an organic fair trade Cacao Farm and production facility.

The minute that we arrived you can feel the passion and energy with every single employee involved. There set up was simple, traditional and clean. I was put back, where just around the corner there was modern slavery at its peak within the sugar cane fields around the corner.

Once we seen the production and tried some different ways to eat or drink it, we jumped up into the back of the truck and headed to the Cacao farm down the road. When we arrived we went up a steep rocky roadway and parked on the hill. Out from the bush and older gentlemen walked out with a large machete and huge smile on his face. Dressed in simple work clothing with patches on his pants for old holes, he approached us and said ' Ven Aca' (meaning come here in Spanish).

On our walk we walked by chickens free ranging around with goats and sheep laying down in the shade under the trees. The forest was luscious with different fruit trees, plants and of course Cacao trees. Once we stopped, he looked up at the tree stretched out with the machete and chopped down a Cacao cocooning, shell like plant. Then he cracked it open with his machete opened it with his hand and handed out this jelly like seed the size of a large coin but shaped like a kidney bean. We ate this jelly that tasted like lychee

and fruit in one bite. It was AMAZING !! Then once you got through the jelly you had pure Cacao. The entire experience was something I will never forget.

At this point, I had visions of a farm in my large bank of dreams but it was definitely on the back burner. I spend an entire day with the farmer and his wife. They were always smiling, living simple and loving what they did. At this point his way of being was so efficacious that I had to know how he does it? How does he get up everyday with such grace and joy? How does he work so hard at such an older age ? And yes he was 76 years old. His answers were simple but so empowering.

He said, " I love what I do but this is not for me or my family. This is for the well being of the soil, earth and God". We have a responsibility in life and that is to maintain our planet for our future and give thanks to our Lord that created this earth". I was surprised with his response. We come from a world where money is at the forefront of discussions, business and friendships. I have never heard a purpose so simple and humbled in a such a large operation like his. He was full of energy, life and purpose.

The spark was created at this particular moment. I asked him, How do you water all these trees?

Farmer - I don't. This land is not my land. On paper it says it is my land but it all Gods land. And it is God that knows when it needs water or sun. I need to help maintain what God created.

His faith in God was so inspirational. He had this outright faith that God will take care of it, just let God do his thing. At that moment, I fell in love with his humility and grace. I knew when I left that day what kind of life I wanted to aspire to do and be.

We tend to overwhelm our lives and force certain aspect that we think we need. It is the moments that you become for eagle like. An eagle fly's with the direction of the wind. They don't fight but embrace it. It is time we embrace the negative waves in life. Embrace the world we live in and listen to your heart. Open your light and you will begin to be more aware of who you are. It is time we wake up and live.

Cacao Farmer

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