Sierra Divina is a young project located in Colombia with the vision to establish a regenerative Cacao forest of 10 hectares and a nature reserve of 24 hectares using permaculture design.
Sierra Divina is located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in the North of Colombia, between Rio Guachaca and Rio Buritaca at the Caribbean Sea. The Sierra is the ancient land of the Teyrona, who call it the 'Heart of the World’.
The project was founded by Ricardo Leyva and Juan Pablo Galvis, who wanted to grow a Cacao forest in a sacred, respectful and responsible way. Both feel that Cacao is not a commodity, but a sacred plant medicine, a wisdom keeper, a unifier, and a Spirit.
He is the main gardener at Sierra Divina in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
He takes care of the daily tasks and responsibilities.
In Spring 2021, Cacao Gardener started collaborating with Sierra Divina with the shared intention: To plant Cacao trees and restore a biodiverse, spirited Cacao forest in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia, the so-called "Heart of the World".
The first impact.
With the support from the Cacao Gardener fund, we have been able to make a significant impact within one year. From November 2021 to January 2022 the Cacao Gardener Initiative has secured 100 tree guardianships and 1.600 Cacao trees, 1.600 shade plants and 200 oak trees were planted on 2 hectares of land, contributing to reforestation efforts and promoting sustainable land use on the Sierra Divina land.
A water management system was installed, which helps to conserve water and ensure that the Cacao plants receive the right amount of hydration and that the forest remains healthy. Additionally, we co-financed the planting of 4.000 endemic trees on 24 hectares of natural reserve, technical equipment and regular loans for the plantation workers.
In addition, steps have been taken to reduce the environmental impact by replacing the commonly used plastic bags for the seedlings at the nursery with biodegradable and compostable containers (“Jiffy Pellets”) made from organic materials. Unlike plastic bags, these containers can be transplanted directly into the ground, which means no plastic waste and less stress for the young trees.
A Brief History of the Sierra Divina land
The land was bought with poor soil and in poor physical conditions as a result of deforestation for unsustainable cattle-raising practices.
After almost eight years of recovery, the soil was ready to host a sustainable agricultural project that understands that biodiversity is the envelope that contains growth.
The Cacao nursery was established and seedlings grew perfectly. To honour the land and traditions, Ricardo and Juan Pablo reached out to the Kogi community before planting the first Cacao trees on the field. One of the Elders, Mama Miguel, performed a 'Pagamento' for the Cacao forest, a payment to Mother Earth, to keep the balance between giving and receiving.
800 Cacao trees from the pilot, grafted with high-quality clonal varieties are were planted on the field.
4.000 endemic trees were planted in the nature reserve. 1.000 new Cacao seeds were sown in the nursery and taken care of.
The water tank is was bought and installed and the terrain was prepared for almost 1.000 trees
Approx. 900 Cacao trees were moved from the nursery to the field.
The irrigation system was bought and installed.
Seed by seed, a spirited Cacao forest is rising slowly in the North of Colombia, between the Caribbean coast and the high mountains and tropical rainforest of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The land we are working with has rested for almost a decade to recover from deforestation and cattle ranching. With joy and gratitude we witness now the return home of plants, trees and animals.
Why we co-create with Sierra Divina:
We align with Ricardo and Jaun Pablo's vision to grow Cacao in a sacred, respectful and responsible way.
We love to support sustainable fine Cacao production in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia. Cacao beans from this area are well known for their high-quality aroma and flavour.
Sierra Nevada was designated as one of UNESCO´s Biosphere Reserves. Growing a Cacao forest there helps to protect a global biodiversity hotspot.
Having the possibility to fund a Cacao forest in the 'Heart of the World' – as the indigenous Teyrona call their land – simply makes our hearts deeply happy and our faces smile (a lot!).