After half a life-time of traveling between Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean, Mahogany Road appeared on our horizons in early 2006. As an artist with deeply felt influences in both African and Caribbean history, the tropics, archaeology, and mythology, who needed to expand from the cramped confines of a traditional sailing schooner, it was perfect for Mandy. A few acres of heavily forested land in the most historic part of St Croix, with a number of small Danish-era ruins suitable for a minimal budget and a wide range of manual skills, have eventually produced a house, a ceramics studio, a cottage, workshops, three gypsy-style wagons and a wood-fired bake-oven and food-truck business for her daughter Merryn, who came back after five years of wandering.
The forest remains, with 20 types of fruit, many exotic flowers, a vegetable garden, chicken coops, roving ducks, and a myriad of things to catch an artist’s eye! The ruins now house red-footed tortoises, the lush vegetation, birds, iguanas, and mongoose, and ceramics of every period, from the iconic shards of ‘chaney’ released by the soil on every path, to the whimsical or mysterious elven figures you encounter in odd corners, atop a rock, or in the crook of a tree, produced in Mandy’s sculpture studio.
Little by little over the last decade, Mandy and Merryn have developed the ruins and gardens, amongst the huge saman and mango trees, some planted as far back as the 18th century. It is almost impossible to imagine the area without these mighty giants – and would be impossible to maintain or recreate the ecosystem without them. The thick shade makes it considerably cooler than the rest of the island, and there is no lack of wildlife – with the constant sound of crickets, many types of frog, and songbirds. Many more silent creatures are constantly around us – anole lizards, geckos, bats, the largest moths you’d ever wish to see…
This is the rare, ideal country for the growing of cacao–wet, shady, and remote from modern hybrids that could alter the pure strains of criollo and trinitario we are planting. There are few mature trees on the island for the moment, but our five-year-plan should achieve single-estate tree-to-bar chocolate from Mahogany Road, St Croix, the first in the Virgin Islands!
Born of a desire to see the island come into it’s own, producing food and many other necessities, and attracting visitors for all we have to offer; as well as from our belief in a sustainable future, our chocolate and other products contain only local ingredients from the Caribbean. We aim to produce an increasing proportion of these ourselves, as well as supporting local growers, farmers and craftsmen. Come and explore the island’s rich history, meet the people, and eat real and authentic food!