Swiss Chocolate Meets Island Conservation

Swiss Chocolate Meets Island Conservation
Rows of young cacao seedlings grow in Galápagos, promising a future of unique chocolate flavors and contributing to the islands’ biodiversity. ©Galápagos Conservancy

Patricia Stucki’s inspiring story unfolds in the remote Galápagos archipelago, a place where biodiversity and conservation are critical. Patricia, a naturalist guide and chocolate connoisseur, has successfully blended her Swiss heritage with the rich ecosystem of the islands, thanks to Galápagos Conservancy’s support.

The Birth of a Conservation Passion

Growing up in Switzerland, near a chocolate factory, Patricia developed a profound connection with the world of cocoa from a young age. This passion has followed her throughout her life, guiding her towards an unexpected future.

Patricia Stucki’s commitment to the conservation of Galápagos began on the bustling streets of Switzerland, where she sold chocolates as part of a project to support the islands’ conservation. This initiative, which she managed from Switzerland, showcased her affection for the archipelago long before she made it her home. This encounter forged an unexpected bond with this natural paradise. Now, as a naturalist guide in Galápagos, Patricia not only shares the environment’s beauty but also her journey of how chocolate ignited her connection with Galápagos, fueling her desire to contribute more directly to the conservation of this magnificent archipelago.

In 2010, she purchased land in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, with the dream of cultivating her own cocoa. Despite the initial challenges, her determination and love for cocoa helped her overcome the difficulties of farming in such an unusual setting. Her efforts eventually paid off, and her plantation now houses nearly 2000 cocoa plants, each with its own story of growth and resilience.

Galápagos Conservancy Influence

As Patricia puts it, “this journey wouldn’t have been possible without the financial support from the Galápagos Conservancy grants.” With tourism in Galápagos declining due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Patricia was inspired to expand her business. This support enabled her not only to plant seeds but also to adopt sustainable production practices, contributing significantly to the archipelago’s conservation.

With this momentum, Patricia now explores infinite possibilities with cocoa. The cocoa bean shells are transformed into a chocolate tea, which is traditionally served with hot water and cinnamon. The nibs, which are obtained by roasting and breaking the cocoa, are a superfood that is high in iron and antioxidants, and can be used in granolas, cookies, or as a healthy snack. The nibs can also be transformed into a refined liquid chocolate that can be molded and infused with personalized ingredients. Galápagos chocolate is thus more than just a tasty treat; but also a testament to Patricia’s creativity and commitment to producing high-quality chocolate with high cocoa content in the Enchanted Islands.

Swiss Chocolate Meets Island Conservation
Two farmers skillfully process cocoa beans into nibs and chocolates, a project supported by Galápagos Conservancy that provides employment in the local community. ©Galápagos Conservancy

Each cocoa bean growing in Galápagos highlands embodies Patricia’s passion and the bridge between two worlds: the Swiss and the Enchanted Archipelago. Her story is a testament to how passion and perseverance can unite disparate worlds, bringing the essence of Swiss chocolate to the heart of Galápagos.

Swiss Chocolate Meets Island Conservation
A cup of chocolate tea, a flagship product of Patricia’s project, is enjoyed by both tourists and the local community. ©Galápagos Conservancy