Monday, 18 February 2013

A week in Grenada with Mott Green

Mott Heads up The Grenada Chocolate Company which produces single origin 'tree-to-bar' chocolate in hand made batches.
I think anyone watching me right now would wonder what I am doing.  I’ve started this diary entry a dozen times or more and metaphorically there is a bin in the corner full of scrunched up balls of paper after dozens of first attempts at opening this dairy post.

It was through Chantal Coady of Rococo Chocolates that I was introduced to Mott Green of the Grenada Chocolate Company and I was invited, along side one of my all time favorite writers Xanthe Clay, to spend a week finding out more about The Grenada Chocolate Company, and the Tres Hombres ship that is now on it’s way back to the UK with 50,000 bars of chocolate on board.  As I'm sitting here thinking back, the week was so incredible I actually don’t know where to start. I thought about writing everything up like a day-by-day journal starting at the beginning, but really I want to write about the way this trip to Grenada has affected me.

Meeting the Farmers and Edmond Brown who grow the Cocoa and the crew who sail it back to the UK 
I flew to Grenada last Monday with Xanthe Clay who writes for the Telegraph.  Xanthe's articles are so beautifully written. Her words always transport me to wherever she is in the world and I have always loved her writing style. The way she weaves atmosphere and romance in her features without forgetting the practical aspects of cooking makes her a brilliant writer. She also has magical ability to include lots of information whilst keeping up a good pace, but what I like best of all is that she is a mother and a wife and she chats about family life, giving a wonderful warm human aspect to her work, and her recipes consistently translate to real life. We’d met a few times out and about but I was nervous all the same.  I hoped so much that she would like me. In real life she is equally fabulous as her column.  She is really one of the most adventurous fun and inspirational women I have ever met, and I know perhaps Xanthe is laughing and blushing if she is reading these words..  but forgive my honesty.  I am writing from my heart and speaking the truth as it is.

Since I came back from meeting Lulu Sturdy and spending time at Ndali Vanilla in Uganda I’ve been trying to find the answer to that little voice whispering to me that something more has to be possible here. Perhaps it was stepping away from my identity as a wife, mother, and daughter that meant I tuned in to the people around me, but I have come back from Grenada not only bringing back with me spices and Rum, but clarity and purpose.

Everything on Grenada was intense. The food tasted more delicious, the music sounded more soulful.  It was as thought some one turned up the volume in the world. The heat, the flavors, the sounds; and now that I’m home I know that the people I met on that beautiful little island will have a played a part in changing the way I see things forever.

Grenada itself has an easy laid back appeal.  People wave. People smile and people take the time to say hello and how are you.  It’s a beautiful place, but more than that, it’s got really lovely people.  People that make you feel welcome and having been let loose on the Island to explore ourselves I found myself stopping at the side of the road, chatting to fishermen, photographing laughing children and eating amazing food.  It’s an extraordinary place.

Time to consider life. 

It is on this Island, where the Caribbean see meets the Atlantic ocean, the spices and cocoa trees grown in fertile volcanic soil in the warn tropical sunshine, that there is a revolution is happening.  This is where the very best fair working practices happen and the farmers and workers benefit from the chocolate being made just a few minutes away from here it is grown. It is here that the Tres Hombres and her crew moor their beautiful cargo ship, and load the chocolate into the cargo hold.  It is this synergy between people, beliefs and possibility quite literally set my core on fire

Mott Green is the man behind the Grenada chocolate.  He is a shrewd 46 year old year  NewYorker, with intense blue eyes, clear vision of what is right, achievable and fair; with insatiable energy he has teamed up with the Tres Hombres fair transport cargo vessel.  The fit is perfect; with a natural synergy between Motts cooperatively produced artisanal hand crafted chocolate bars and Captain of Arjan’s principles of fair transport on the Tres Hombres ship.   

When I asked Captain Arjen van der Veen about his dream of making the world a better place through fair food and fair transport he looked straight at me and with easy humour he pointed out the obvious.  “This is not how it could be.  This is how it is.  We are doing it right now.  This is my life and it’s real.”  

In that moment I felt as though I’d been handed the picture to a puzzle I’ve been trying to solve for an age. I’ve quite literally had the pieces all along but not been able to see how to put it together.

Literally as I am typing this, at this very moment in time, the chocolate I saw being made is being sailed back to Portsmouth by Captain Arjen, Mott and the crew.  The chocolate is maturing and developing it’s fruity, textured rich dark sweet flavour, so it for me to step out of my conventional self, stop dreaming and do as Arjen and Mott.  So now it is time for me to really trust my beliefs fully, without questioning, without hesitation.

The cocoa grows on small farms in the rainforest, protected by nutmeg, banana and mango trees.
Seeing a clear view of the world through other people’s eyes I saw myself properly. Vanessa, just as I am. For the first time in years I actually liked what I saw, and I suddenly stopped feeling like I wasn’t good enough.   This wasn’t just a fluke anymore. Call it kismet if you like but to find myself with the opportunity to meet the people challenging convention I‘ve realized that I can make a difference. It was listening to Arjen and Mott when I realised that it’s not a dream it’s just what you do when you believe in something. Both Mott and Arjen live life according to their beliefs and convictions  -   it is an amazing way to live and I want to do the same. 

I thought back at where I was less than three years ago, feeling domestically trapped, in a job I no longer wanted to do, with three young children demanding every ounce of my energy.  I was miserable and yes I determined to follow my heart and change direction. I think meeting Mott has finally made me release that I may actually have almost achieved what I set out to.. and now there is more. Now there is the real chance to not only live the principles of an ethical and sustainable lifestyle but to incorporate those principles into my work and so I’ve decided to fully incorporate these core values into the courses I teach and to change this blog’s name to reflect what is my privilege; to spread the word about how to eat, grow, buy delicious, ethical and sustainable food and flowers, without compromise.

You can buy some of this beautiful dark organic chocolate in Waitrose or at Rococo Chocolates

2nd June 2013 - Addendum 

It is with absolute sadness and shock that I add to this post that Mott died tragically in an accident yesterday.  I am absolutely heartbroken. As I write this now with tears streaming and I am, for once in my life, grateful to my propensity to blurt how I feel as I explained to Mott just two weeks ago on baord the Tres Hombres just what a profound effect that he has had on me.

Chantal Coady friend of Motts for many years and owner of Rococo Chocolates has written a beautiful tribute to Mott on her blog.

The interview I had with him is below.  Rest in peace Mott, for I believe with all my heart that you have changed the world of chocolate forever.

Captain Arjen Van der Veer of the Tres Hombres has a cargo of 50,000 hand wrapped bars of  delicious dark organic chocolate destined for Portsmouth. 



  1. I'm going to buy that chocolate. I have loved reading your post.
    I love how honest you are, and how much you care about people.

    And that is all I have to say!

  2. you are a sweetheart Vanessa. thank you. xx

  3. Hello Vanessa,
    I think we share a way of looking at life and the world in a different way - a better way - that only experience of the other can give you. You write beautifully and evocatively. See if you think 'Letters to Nigel Slater' resonates with you. I think i may have found a friend or at least a kindred spirit.
    Best wishes,

  4. How fabulous! I am so envious I was not there with you, its been a while since we were there - roll on November is all I can say!

  5. What a momentous trip for you Vanessa. You have written a beautiful piece that will resonate with so many people. I am very happy for you! xx

  6. Such a beautiful blogpost. I feel like I was there with you on your journey. You go girl, our Northampton guru !!

  7. Hooray Vanessa, good for you. Love your writing as always and your wonderful photographs and I think I might be in love with that chocolate - must see if I can get my hands on some of it.

  8. Inspirational as always - you "do" what most of us only "think" about doing.

  9. Hi Vanessa,
    Great story, thank you for visiting Grenada and sharing your experiences!
    Comeback soon

  10. Hi Vanessa,
    Thank you for visiting Grenada and writing such a great story!
    We all enjoy meeting you and Xanthe.
    Hope you get to comeback some time soon and explore a bit more of beautiful Grenada!
    Big HELLO! from everyone here.

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your moving experience of Grenada; beautiful and honest. I visit regularly and often write about the island - good to connect here. Congrats on taking the plunge for your next step.

  12. Thank you for sharing my beautiful Island experience, now I know who makes the chocolate bars I carry back to friends in the usa.Hope you go back again

  13. I'm really impressed with your writing abilities and also with the layout for your weblog. Is this a paid topic or did you customize it yourself? Anyway stay up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one today..

    my web-site; ratenkredite Ohne schufa

  14. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this
    topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand.
    It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I'm looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

    my weblog - gesetzliche krankenversicherung Kosten

  15. Later on, among the continued practice ending up will continue to be auxiliary accustomed burning the
    various chords. Www. It is very soothing to hear the sound of piano and based on such vast change of scales,
    a song sounds so melodious.

    My blog; kailangan kita piano chords and notes

  16. Later on, among the continued practice ending up will continue to be auxiliary accustomed burning
    the various chords. Www. It is very soothing to hear the sound of piano and based on
    such vast change of scales, a song sounds so melodious.

    My blog: kailangan kita piano chords and notes
    My webpage - piano chords apologize one republic

  17. This looks and sounds like an amazing place, so very different to here and so welcoming. I think you are making a difference and spreading the word to bring it to more people, it is through this that people do think twice when they buy and in doing so are able themselves to make a difference to others.

  18. Barry Johnson (principal chocolatier - Rococo Chocolates)28 February 2013 at 21:07

    Oh Vanessa!!!

    You are making me so jealous right now. How I long to go to Grenada and help Mott make chocolate. Hopefully my turn next year.
    I absolutely loved the post, so interesting to read all about your trip. I hope to see you in Portsmouth for the arrival of the Tres Hombres if not before.

    Barry x

    1. Hey Barry,

      Yes yes you can count on me being there. I may try and stay over as it will be really good to catch up with everyone. You'd love it in Grenada. It's just beautiful.

      If you are back home at all pop over. I'll bake a cake .. if you're lucky!



If you are reading my blog I must warn you that I am not impartial. I want to influence you. I want to make you stop for just a moment and consider the effect of a lifetime of seemingly insignificant decisions and how making small delicious choices can change the world.

I believe that we can change the world one bite at a time.

It's a delicious revolution.