Emi's family were always into growing things. Her grandfather and father grew chicle, but when it was replaced they moved to other crops. She started a vanilla farm after her son convinced her to take a class at the university about how to grow and harvest vanilla. There were over 40 people that attended the course, but Emi was the only one that has persevered and has mature vanilla plants. It takes 7 years before a vanilla plant produces top grade beans, and the plants require year-around attention.
Consequently, vanilla is the second most expensive spice behind saffron. In addition, nearly 90 percent of the vanilla sold in the US is not true vanilla, but was made from other plants. Once you taste true vanilla, you will want more.