I Chocolate Blog
The Lake Champlain Chocolates blog, where you’ll discover the latest news from the factory, tutorials, and all things chocolate!


Project Tocache: Building Stronger Cacao Growing Communities

a tree full of cacao pods

As a family owned and operated Vermont chocolate company, born on a dare to do better, we’re on a mission to find new ways to improve our social and environmental impact for both our local communities and communities of farmers and producers that we partner with worldwide.

This year, we’re thrilled to announce our partnership with organic chocolate supplier ICAM, on Project Tocache. This exciting initiative aims to bring essential infrastructure, like clean water supply, to the cacao farming cooperatives of Tocache in Peru.

Sadly, many of the cacao-growing communities are remote and lack basic infrastructure and necessities like clean water, electricity, roads, schools, and healthcare facilities. Paying fair trade premiums to farmers is not enough for us. We need to go above and beyond to improve the health and wellbeing of cocoa farmers and build stronger, more sustainable cocoa farming communities.

Through collaboration with ICAM and direct engagement with cocoa farmers in Peru, we identified the urgent need for waste management to clean up their water supply - and Project Tocache was born. On September 1, 2023, you’ll notice a fresh new design for our Signature Chocolate Bars. We will also launch a program that donates 1% from sales of these popular organic bars to social and environmental impact projects. And in our first year, all donations will support Project Tocache!

Let Us Introduce You to The Cacao Farming Cooperative of Tocache

Tocache cacao farmer

Deep in the mountains of central Peru, in the community surrounding the town of Paraiso, you’ll find the remarkable Tocache Cacao and Cooperative Agro-Industrial Paraiso. This farming cooperative consists of 481 producer partners. Together they cultivate 2,345 acres of organic cacao and last year they produced 3,050 tons of organic cocoa, with 40% of it being produced by women farmers. Their mission is, “to supply the global market with organic aroma beans using top-notch harvesting techniques and respecting the environment.”

The Need for Clean Water

The United Nations considers access to clean water a fundamental human right, but it’s a luxury many take for granted. That’s why Lake Champlain Chocolates has always prioritized clean water initiatives, whether it’s planting trees in our home state of Vermont or building biodigesters in cacao-growing communities like Tocache.

For the cacao farmers of Tocache, the lack of clean water and proper waste disposal has had devastating consequences. Carrying poor-quality water from nearby streams and rivers and improper storage in buckets and drums leads to diseases and health issues within the community. Improving these conditions by implementing biodigesters to dispose of organic waste will combat these issues.

So, while installing biodigesters doesn’t sound overly appealing, it is an important and necessary initiative we are proud to support.

A Community Request for Latrines

Over the next year, in collaboration with ICAM and the Cooperative Agro-Industrial Paraiso, we are committed to building the requested 50 sanitation buildings with biodigesters for Project Tocache. Each structure will include a latrine, a shower, and a basin, each with separate wastewater and drainage systems. A biodigester will accompany each structure and use bacteria and anaerobic digestion to break down organic matter and filter the wastewater, returning it to the soil as nutrient-rich fertilizer. 

details of the biodigesters for Project Tocache

The objective of Project Tocache is to improve hygiene and sanitation conditions in family homes, keeping harmful bacteria and contaminants out of the drinking water and reducing infections, pests, and diseases due to the consumption of untreated water. Not only will this project reduce environmental pollution, but it will significantly enhance the health and well-being of the community.

Tocache cacao farmer with their harvest of cacao pods

Let Chocolate Change Your World!

By supporting our Signature Bar line, you not only indulge in delicious treats but also invest in clean water initiatives and the future of cacao for all.  To see the continued progress of Project Tocache be sure to check back regularly!

Our First Donation to Project Tocache

January 2024: Less than six months after launching our redesigned Signature Bar line, we are excited to be making our first donation of $11,272.00 to Project Tocache. This donation is just the first part of our commitment to a social and environmental initiative that aims to bring essential infrastructure, like clean water supply, to the cacao farming cooperatives of Tocache in Peru.