Allspice is native to Jamaica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Brazil. Jamaican berries have a more clove-like flavor, while berries from Guatemala and the Honduras are a bit larger, with a stronger bay-rum flavor. Mexican allspice has the largest, darkest berry but the weakest flavor.
Our Guatemalan allspice, grown by our Well Earth Sourcing Program partners, is the choice for those looking for good flavor and quality, certified organic production methods, and support of small farmers. This variety of allspice is native to Honduras as well as Guatemala.
Trees are harvested in July and August, where they grow wild on the borders of the coffee fields and cornfields of numerous small growers. The men climb the trees in order to pick all of the small brown fruits (known as cherries). In-country use of allspice is low, so trees are often not harvested. Organic certification and a reliable market give these small growers a chance to earn money they would not usually have.
On a mountain hillside in Guatemala, a small group of Cacualzul families work proudly on the land they now call their own. A major coffee grower originally owned the farm, and the parents of the families now working the land were his hired labor. But when the grower was unable to pay the workers their government-mandated bonus for several years in a row, he paid them with land. Now Hilario Caal Chub and his neighbors grow their crops on a hectare or so of land they each own.
While we visited Hilario's farm, there was a delivery of allspice seedlings that were donated to the growers through a Simply Organic 1% grant. The farmers were working with wild allspice trees on their small farms and welcomed the easier management and better yields of the new trees. The SO1% grant Frontier made last year also funded training in organic management, quality and recordkeeping for the farmers, a technical consultant for the group, and financial assistance with certification costs.
Hilario and his neighbors are enthusiastic about the new trees and improving their growing techniques. In fact, the openness of these growers to new methods and ideas is one of the attributes that influenced their being selected as participants in the organic allspice project. Hilario has six kids -- three boys and three girls -- with the youngest just three and the oldest a schoolteacher. The premium he gets for his organic allspice helps him give his children what he wants most for all of them -- an education.
Frontier Co-op sourcing expert Kai Stark travels to Guatemala to visit our Well Earth growers that produce our organic allspice.
© 2014 Frontier Co-op. All rights reserved.