Vanilla from Sarah Lohman on Vimeo.
While I was honeymooning in Mexico this summer, I dragged my new husband to a remote part of Mexico to visit a vanilla plantation. To be honest, he kinda relished the dangerous drive through the mountains, including the switchbacks and hairpin turns by sheer cliffs. We went way out of the way because I wanted to see vanilla grown at its point of origin, the state of Veracruz.
For a very long time, Vanilla was transplanted outside of Mexico in vain. The orchid owed its pollination to a small bee native to Veracruz, so transplanted plants blossomed, but never fruited. In 1842, a method for artificially pollinating vanilla was discovered and the industry was born. Ironically, the bee is no where to be found ion Mexican Vanilla plantations today; plantation owner Norma Gaya believes years of pesticide-laced vanilla crops are to blame. The Gaya plantation, the largest in Mexico, is spreading organic growing practices in hopes this natural pollinator will return
We spent a day at the Gaya plantation, and got a hands on look at how vanilla is grown. Check out the video to follow along on my adventure!
Oh, and if you’re wondering if my whole honeymoon was trekking through the jungle, fret not. The homeland of vanilla just happens to be closest to one of the most beautiful, undeveloped stretches of beach in Mexico, the Costa Esmerelda. Everybody’s a winner.
By the way, the plantation tour was facilitated by Tia Stephanie Tours, who is designing a tour of the State of Veracruz. It’s off the beaten path and well worth it.