Visiting Vanilla Farmers in Mexico
January 2020 we visited a variety of farms and communities in Mexico growing Vanilla Pompona & Vanilla Planifolia. Vanilla Planifolia, below, is wild-harvested deep in the community forest requiring a hearty 90-minute hike to get there.
In the forests, the vanilla planifolia orchids grow up each tree to about 5 feet then are trained down the tree with ropes, and allowed to grow so that the base of each tree is fully covered with the vanilla vines. Vanilla planifolia vines are allowed to grow naturally, rarely cut, taking 5 years to produce the vanilla flower. Due to the low natural pollination rate, the vanilla flowers are hand pollinated. The vanilla flowers last only a few hours in the morning, so this requires daily morning hikes to pollinate the flowers.
After nine months growing, these beans are wild-harvested, sun-dried & cured. The finished Mexican Vanilla bean is large at 21cm and is highly sought after for its high