Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.
Loving Earth Regenerates with Chocolate
We hear from Loving Earth co-founder, Scott Fry
We hear from Loving Earth co-founder, Scott Fry
You unlocked one of life’s great mysteries! Gorgeous, indulgent chocolate that is also good for people and planet! How did you do it?
By listening to the spirit of the cacao plant (Theobroma cacao) and seeking to follow its lead. I was first introduced to cacao when I was in Mexico with Loving Earth co-founder Martha Butler, and then I journeyed to Izapa in Chiapas close to the border with Guatemala where cacao was first domesticated by the Olmecs (the ancestors of the Mayans). When we returned to Melbourne, a seed had been planted of wanting to create a pristine brand that would be in service of every aspect. It would help the indigenous peoples who know the land, it would help the people who bought it, and it would help the earth regenerate. Practically speaking though, it means listening to the spirit and attuning to its manifestations, so flavour, smell and really understanding the story and mythology that surrounds it. I don’t think we can be reductionist about life and living any more, we have to look at the whole and that includes the physical and spiritual.
How does your view of Earth as a living, loving being underpin your business decisions?
This is a challenging one because in the current economic model, we are very limited. We’ve spent the last few years trying to really listen and learn and I think we’re at a turning point now. We can’t solve the problems that the world is in in this current paradigm, the status quo has to change. And it will, one way or another. If we learn to listen to nature and the natural world, we believe we will be guided to a new economy, which we’re seeing already. I guess ultimately, my view of Earth as a living loving being isn’t separated from my life, and therefore my business decisions. I think it’s all about deciding to be a good ancestor to our future generations and that means educating ourselves and practicing a new way of being in relationship with Earth now.
Your cacao is grown by the Ashaninka community in Peru. Tell us about that relationship.
Watch this. This video really sums up our special relationship. We’ve been working directly with the Kemito Ene co-operative (Kemito meaning cacao and Ene is the river on which it grows, the main headwater of the Amazon river) since 2015 and indirectly since the inception of Loving Earth when we were purchasing the cacao through another co-op based in Satipo
The Ashaninka have lived in the Amazonian rainforests for over 5,000 years and it is said that through the Terra Preta they were instrumental in making the Amazon forest what it was before it began being destroyed by modern consumer capitalism. Sadly the 20th Century saw them having to defend their territory from terrorists, narcos, cocaine production and loggers, which decimated the community and led to ravaging of the forests. The Ashaninka use skills handed down from generation to generation as they grow and harvest the indigenous Amazonico Criollo Cacao, the heirloom beans of the region, as part of the co-operative Kemito Ene
Wanting to support this community to be self-sustaining, we started from the very beginning, helping them set up the basics like a bank account to accept funds. We then could go about helping them with their Organic certifications, setting up post-harvest process infrastructure and business administration including financing.
In 2019 they won the UN Equator prize for the New Economy category for “alleviating poverty through the sustainable use of biodiversity” with Kemito Ene’s Felixto Cabanillas Contreras giving the keynote speech at the awards ceremony in New York here.
How else do you practice loving Earth?
I guess I am attempting to live my life with simply ‘loving the Earth’ as the guiding principle. I think James Lovelock explains quite well why we have to put Gaia (the earth life system) back at the centre of our thinking in his latest book the Novacene and Robin Wall Kimmerer shows what that looks like in a life well lived in her book Braiding Sweetgrass. The Ashaninka call it Kametsa Aseiki (to live well) and it is the basis of their culture. In my day to day though, it looks like gardening down in the cash reserve along Edgar’s Creek and participating in community jam sessions with friends along the creek too!
How is your work affecting broader systems change?
Participation and listening is key. At the moment I’m very deep in the web 3 space, which is learning about and utilising open source decentralised technology and coordination mechanisms like blockchain, community inclusion currencies, NFT’s and DAO’s to achieve more equitable access to the financial system for the global south. I’ve got a great network of people globally who are doing amazing work and I love being an active part of the conversation.
From this deep dive, I think that the work we do with the Twin Lakes mob and being mentored by Marion and Bruno Dann (the TO in The Kimberley area where Loving Earth’s Gubinge and Jillungin is harvested) has been really powerful. From my time as an Outward Bound instructor, our objective was to ‘lead from behind’ and that’s what I really want to do, I want to have the right people be the lightning rods of change. We’re helping create the platforms and portals, people like Bruno and Felixto are the ones best qualified to speak to the positive changes that indigenous thinking and cultures can offer modern society.
I’d highly recommend listening to Bruno and Marion speak with Anthony James on his Regen Narration podcast. They explain it best!
What is your favourite product right now?
It’s hard to choose but right now it’s the Dirty Rose choccy!