The Origin of Mama Amor: A Women-led Cacao Farming Collective
Do you want to find out more about a women-led cacao farming collective leading the sustainable movement of their region? Many of you, amazing cacao lovers, that have been following and supporting our journey of connection with the Source, may have seen pictures of these beautiful women making chocolate by hand, in the cacao forest, right next to their house. Fermenting the beans in baskets covered with banana leaves, drying them in the sun, roasting over the fire, and grinding by hand with the traditional stone grinder. Dressed in their colorful Huipiles. Introducing themselves with a mix of calm loving presence and wise humbleness.
They are the members of the Nuevo Amanecer women’s collective. The first origin we started to source from back in 2019. “Nuevo Amanecer” means new sunrise, new beginning. The group was formed in 2013 by Odilia, their leader, to support women of her community with professional activity and to foster economic resilience. At first, Nuevo Amanecer was focussed on weaving and creating beautiful traditional textiles. Slowly they re-oriented their activity towards another legacy of their mothers and grandmothers: cacao culture and transformation. Today they organize the production, fermentation, and drying of cacao. They also make artisan chocolate at the farm by hand, the traditional way.
They work locally with 6 “parcelas”- small pieces of land of about 4000 m2 each, for about 3000 cacao trees. Some of these parcelas are owned by the families of the collective’s members, others are neighbors. Their village, close by the town of San Antonio Suchitepequez, gathers a myriad of small lands where mainly sugarcane and corn are cultivated in monoculture. In some parts of the area, the use of traditional forest gardens persisted and involves beautiful local hybrid varieties. Part of the reasons why it was important for us to start working with this collective. They live literally at the border between the lush and alive Mayan highlands and the desolated and monoculture desert and misery in the pacific front.
Working with women.
But that was not the only reason why we chose to work with the Nuevo Amanecer. The collective counts 12 women. Some are single mothers, young mothers, others are widows. In their small workshop, which is also the new kitchen of Odilia’s house, they don’t only make chocolate. They also craft resilience, income, independence, and empowerment for themselves. And set a powerful example for the others around. A successful women’s collective thriving all by themselves in the middle of an economy run by men has quite an impressive impact. Especially after 2019.
We are thrilled to work with a women’s collective. They were the first farming collective we met that was managed by women. Women handling money and business, women organized to work together beyond the frame of their family are so rare in Guatemala where uneducated and unemployed women are common to meet all over the country. That’s why It was primordial for us to support an alternative to this context. A context that fosters much violence and exploitation. According to UN Women, Guatemala has the third-highest rate of femicide (the homicide of women based on gender) in the world. We need to transform this, giving more power to women. Offering models of opportunities and development. Bringing perspectives of empowerment.