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. As you might expect, nearly 90 percent of the vanilla sold in the US is not true vanilla, but was made from other plants.
Gabriel is from a family that has a small vanilla farm outside of Chetumal, Mexico. His father felt that the commercial vanilla farms overstress the land and have compromised the vanilla quality. Consequently, he decided not to grow their vanilla in green houses or in formal rows, but in a natural forest setting where is naturally protected from pests and is exposed to natural fertilizer. The vanilla plants mostly grow wherever they want, and Gabriel’s family nurtures and then harvests them as they can.
Gabriel applied to a Phd program in ecological sciend in the national university to prove this theory. He plans on measuring growth and yields of their plants and compare them to production from commercial farms. However, he must make many other measurements (humidity, temperature, etc.) to ensure that other factors are not confounding the results. Gabriel is the first in his family to attend a university and so he is excited to use this opportunity to enhance vanilla quality in Mexico. SoulGives will help by buying instrumentation for him and sell their vanilla so that they can continue to develop their unique farming methods.