Chocolate Bar

BFREE would like to announce the creation of our first chocolate bar. We have harvested our cacao beans and fermented and dried them before, but this week marks the first attempt to make these beans into chocolate.

We roasted the beans, causing the kitchen to smell delicious, and then spent an hour taking the shells off the warm beans. Maya taught us how to winnow the beans to get rid of extra shells.

Although we did not have a matate and mano, the proper tools to crush the beans, we experimented with a Cuisinart and a blender and mashing the beans by hand to try to release the oils in the bean. We put the resulting mixture in the freezer and the next day, ate the first pieces of BFREE chocolate.

Marlyn Cruz (Front) and Jacob Marlin (back) taking the shell off of roasted cacao beans.

Marlyn Cruz (Front) and Jacob Marlin (back) shucking roasted cacao beans.

Maya winnowing the roasted and cleaned beans.

Maya winnowing the roasted and cleaned beans.

Cacao beans ready to be made into chocolate.

Cacao beans ready to be made into chocolate.

The final product, BFREE's very own chocolate.

The final product, BFREE’s very own chocolate.

Northern Migration

As the seasonal birds migrate from BFREE back to the north, so do our researchers. Emily McKinnon and Kevin Frasier, who use geolocators to track wood thrush migration, have travelled back to Canada and Laura Duval and Chance Hines are finishing off their own wood thrush research. Since January, these researchers have been tagging and trapping wood thrush in two locations near BFREE property. At the beginning of their time here, Laura and Chance spent their time using recorded wood thrush songs to attract the birds and then catch them in mist nets. They then collected data, such as feathers and blood samples to determine food sources and isotope levels. After tagging the birds with radio transmitters, Laura and Chance then used receivers to find and track the birds through the jungle. Nearing the end of the season, this telemetry was used to determine the dates the wood thrush left to migrate North. The wood thrush have now left with enough fat stores to make the long trip back north and Laura and Chance leave to follow them to Indiana in hopes of finding BFREE wood thrush there. We wish them the best of luck!

New Composting Toilets

composting toilets

BFREE’s new composting toilets will aid in conservation efforts and are going to be installed throughout the BFREE property.

Over the past few months, we have engineered and installed three composting toilets: one near the kitchen, one near the bunkhouse and one near the three new cabanas. This cool system separates the urine from the feces, allowing feces to dry and decompose, ultimately becoming fertilizer. Jacob Marlin and Dan Dourson collaborated to make the design and they are very excited that the project is nearing completion.

The state of the art design will allow BFREE to be more eco-friendly and sustainable. River rocks were collected with the help of Keene High School to use as building materials for the walls. Eventually, these bathroom facilities will have associated educational materials highlighting the conservation design and the importance of saving fresh water.

composting toilets side

We are always looking for new ways to improve our buildings and hope to use this design throughout the BFREE property. As Jacob says, “give a shit for conservation!”

2013-04-10 composting toilets 32013-04-15 composting toilet 3

BFREE’s Cacao Nursery and Reforestation Project Featured on USFWS Blog

bfree cacao nursery belize

BFREE’s cacao nursery and reforestation project was featured on the US Fish and Wildlife Services blog. Partners with BFREE, the US Fish and Wildlife Services highlighted work BFREE has done in overseeing the project as well as which species of birds will benefit from the reforestation and how local farmers will become more economically sustainable for the local community.

nursery farmers belize cacao bfree

Read the full story here at the US Fish and Wildlife Services blog.