Friday, September 9, 2011

Tahaa - Vanilla Farm excursion

Next anchorage, Haamene Bay, free mooring balls if you visit the Hibiscus restaurant - which we did. On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday they have a great Happy Hour from 5 - 7. We had fun playing Liar's dice with Evergreen - always nice to get off the boats!
Enjoying the Vanilla Farm

Plus, the restaurant will arrange free transportation to the Vanilla Farm. Free too, unless you buy something...

Tahaa is called the "Vanilla Island" and we had to check it out. The farm was a beautiful place and offered a buffett of bananas, fresh coconut, and fruit juice - what a treat.

Vanilla plant growing on a tree

The Vanilla Farm has been in Moeata's family for 3 generations. Moeata and Brian commercialized it and now ship most of their vanilla harvest to Denmark and have been very successful. Their vanilla is organic and the vanilla plant grows around a host tree - all natural. Most vanilla farms are grown in green houses grown in pots, which requires fertlizer and chemicals.

Vanilla flower
Brian explained some facts about the vanilla plants:
  • Vanilla is part of the orchid family
  • There are 30,000 species of orchids
  • The vanilla plant is the only one that produces food

Vanilla beans drying

Each vanilla flower is hand-pollinated to ensure it produces a vanilla bean. It takes 3 years before a plant produces a bean and requires that they trim the host trees to provide 60% sunlight; 40% of shade.

Then the beans are hand-picked and dried to remove all but 20% of the moisture. During the last 15 days of the drying process, they are massaged daily to bring out the vanilla smell.

It's a lot of work, but worth it. The vanilla smelled wonderful. Can't wait to make some vanilla pancakes, or vanilla sugar, or vanilla extract - whatever!

PS:  We are now anchored in Huahini off the town of Fare.  We will be sailing the lagoon south to Avea Bay in the next day or so to do some more exploring!

1 comment:

Michelle Plaia said...

Just curious... the pic of the vanilla beans growing on the host trees... what's at the base of the trees?? Looks like coconut shells stacked on top of each other? Any idea what & why they do this?
I live in Puerto Rico and am always looking for ways to prevent erosion around the base of my plantings and protect from the darn chickens!