How the chocolate fudge made by Whirld is helping a school and orphanage in Guatemala
Many of our traders are, in their own quiet way, doing things to make the world a slightly fairer and more pleasant place to be. They—and the Market itself—are always on the lookout for new and inventive ways of doing so, while adding to their offering of quality produce. For Justine of the Whirld fudge stall, one such opportunity came about on a family trip to Guatemala, back in 2012. “I came across Casa Guatemala, a school and orphanage in the jungle region of Rio Dulce, while on holiday. I had read about the school online, so got in touch beforehand to see if there was anything we could do to help. They said, ‘Yes, the thing we always need is pants!’ So, my youngest son came with a backpack full,” Justine laughs. “It was lovely to meet the volunteers and some of the children while we were there and afterwards, we kept the relationship going.”
The route from that to using Guatemalan chocolate in Whirld’s fudge was somewhat circuitous. “It took a while: the boyfriend of the woman who runs the school has a cocoa plantation and she’d mentioned that it’d be great if we could use his cocoa in our fudge,” Justine continues. “He only produces cacao, rather than making it into chocolate, but he has a friend in Denmark who had been buying his cacao and turning it into really high end, lovely chocolate, so he put us in touch. The next thing I knew, 10 kilos of this luxury chocolate arrived here in London!”
Breaking the cycle
That friend was Friis Holm, whose quality of chocolate and ethical standards are equally high. “We only deal directly with the cocoa farmers,” he says. “The price they get from us per kilo is three to four times higher than what the international intermediaries offer.” What’s more, Friis donates the chocolate to the project free of charge—“and it’s delicious,” adds Justine. “We knew that fudge with chocolate was never going to go horribly wrong but at 70 per cent cocoa solids, it’s got an intense taste which counteracts the sweetness of the fudge. We had a Belgian chocolate fudge already, but this is a bit more grown up.”
All of the profits from the Guatemalan chocolate fudge are donated to Casa Guatemala. “It’s nice to know for sure that everybody involved in its production cares about the people involved,” says Justine. “In another life I worked with Fairtrade products, but because we’re really small (we only sell at the Market) we wanted to do something a bit more personal. I think it’s nicer that I’ve actually been and seen and met the people—more direct,” she smiles.
“The really nice thing is, the guy that grows the cocoa has now planted trees in the grounds of the school. Eventually, when they start fruiting, that’s the cocoa that we’ll use in our fudge. The children will be growing it and learning how to cultivate cocoa, which is more skilled than other forms of agricultural farming, so they can go on to earn good money.” This way, she says, they will be continuing the cycle and strengthening Casa Guatemala’s mission to “break the cycle of poverty in the children’s communities, as well as improving the quality of life for their families”.