Belmont Estate is one of my very favorite places in Grenada; I could easily spend hours and hours there wandering through the gardens, petting goats, sampling chocolate, tasting goat cheese, and chatting with the talking parrot, Rainbow. The Estate is actually a fully functioning 17th-century plantation that houses a cocoa processing plant (which is why many on the island refer to it as the Chocolate Factory), organic vegetable garden, goat dairy farm, restaurant, petting zoo, museum, and arts & crafts collective. It’s located at the northern end of the island in the town of St. Patrick, which is just about two hours away from where we live in Grand Anse. Belmont is perfect for a day trip, and I’d recommend getting there just in time for their lunchtime buffet. :)
A buffet meal with all the local faire: salad with nutmeg dressing, sauteed provisions (root vegetables), chicken, local fish, beef, and mashed pumpkin.
Local fruits and spices: jackfruit, papaya, coconut, turmeric, cashew fruit & nuts, tamarind, ginger, wax apples, cocoa beans, and many more that I can’t name. Belmont Estate comes down once every two weeks to the local farmer’s market in Grand Anse, and I’ve had the chance to get to know some of the people who work there. The plantation is one of the few places in Grenada where they grow jackfruit, and I’ve been lucky enough to buy jackfruit from them several times at the farmer’s market. Apparently, it’s not widely known or eaten in Grenada, so I often have Grenadians asking me how to eat it!
A tour guide explains to us the process of making cocoa: cocoa pods are picked from the trees, their pulp is thrown into a bin where it is fermented for several days, and then the beans are laid out in the sun to dry on racks.
At Belmont Estate, they have both traditional racks, which are rolled out when it is sunny and quickly rolled in when it rains or in the evening, and also newer structures that allow the sun to penetrate while protecting from rain.
After the beans have dried completely, they are roasted and packed up to go to the Grenada Chocolate Company, where the chocolate is actually made. If you ever get a chance to try their chocolate, you’ll know that it’s about the closest to pure chocolate that you’ll ever taste. It’s also 100% organic and sustainably produced and exported (by sailboat!). They produce bars ranging from 60% pure chocolate to 100% pure chocolate (with a couple of specialty bars in between that contain things like Caribbean sea salt or cocoa nibs – yum!). I’ve only tried them in Grenada, but I’ve heard they’re available at Whole Foods too.
Belmont is also home to The Goat Dairy, a non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable agriculture production, education, and empowerment among Grenada’s low-income families and youth. They provide training for local farmers and set up an educational program with the local elementary schools to teach students about agriculture, animal care, and home economics. They use the dairy farm as the centerpiece for teaching cross-curricular study, making it a teaching tool for teaching math, science, language, business, ethics, and art. Talk about project-based learning! There’s a really nice article here that describes the school project in more detail. Oh, and did I mention that they also make really great cheese?!
Some animals in the “petting zoo” and some photos from the organic garden.
And finally, a stop at the museum to learn all about the history of the plantation and to view some of the artwork of the local craftsmen.