Capturing Coconut Palm Sugar

Where in the world is the One Degree media team? Right now, at 7 degrees latitude, 110 degrees longitude, among the rich tropical forests, gardens and landscapes of Java.

Here, in the vast Indonesian archipelago just south of the equator, One Degree has discovered a timeless natural treasure — coconut palm sugar — an organic sweetener that is good for your health, good to the land, and good for the people who have scaled the trees, harvested the blossoms and prepared the nectar for generations.

Big Tree Farms is the central actor is this success story. Founded less than a decade ago by an American couple on the nearby island of Bali, this unique enterprise has prospered — and brought new prosperity to communities — by introducing the fruits of traditional farming to the world. Together with partner Frederick Schilling, Ben and Blair Ripple have developed a network of 14,000 farmers who supply an array of wonderfully natural products, including sea salt, cashews, cacao and chocolate.

What first drew One Degree’s attention was coconut palm sugar, one of the world’s oldest sweeteners that is now poised to become one of the world’s newest rediscoveries. Throughout the region, farmers harvest palm blossoms from coconut trees, warm the nectar over open hearths, then ladle the sweet paste into coconut molds.

Big Tree tracks every part of the sequence, from village sugar house to final processing at its Java coconut palm sugar facility. The interactions are close, and trusting. The local farmers benefit from new knowledge of organic farming techniques, and the folks at Big Tree receive the indescribable reward of doing the work they love in a paradise.

We are fortunate to be visitors in this paradise through the coming week. Our team will be touring the coconut palm sugar operation in Java and the new strikingly-designed bamboo company home in Bali that also houses Big Tree’s chocolate factory. This almost fictional-sounding chocolate palace may be the largest bamboo structure in the world.

Our final video will bring you every step of the way — from sugar house to chocolate palace, from exploration and discovery to the capture of another uncommonly great One Degree ingredient.