imberley Ann Blackwell had a vision for sustainable community, a group of people living close to nature in peace, growing their own food, practicing healing arts, music, art, and creating mico-industries that supported the people in an impoverished rural area, and showing that it is possible to live in harmony with nature, with the animals and the forest, and the elements. Many people who come to Costa Rica have a similar vision.
After travelling all over the world and working in remote out-back camps as an industrial chef in the Yukon, she chose the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica, to be her home in 1993. After ten years of living and working in the Cabo Matapalo area, along with her Australian partner, Christopher, who shared her vision, she set out to find the perfect property where they could build a life together and invite others to join them. It had to have magnificent views, with lots of forest to protect, and plenty of space to grow fruits and vegetables. The farm they found was located at the one of the highest points on the peninsula, at the end of the road in San Miguel de Cañaza, close to the border of Corcovado Nacional Parque.
It was her passion for wildlife and nature, her conviction to change the patterns of a rural culture, and her tough pioneer spirit that never backed down that got her killed.
When they cleared and landscaped parts of the farm that had gone wild and unattended over many years, they discovered four hectares of uncultivated cacao trees hidden in the over-growth. There was a funky homestead cabin near the bottom of the hillside that they made livable until they were able to build the homes and facilities that she dreamed of.
Basic accommodations did not bother her--…she was a pioneer woman! Like some people with lemons, (which they also had in abundance), who make lemonade, she decided to put her chef skills to work and learned to make chocolate from the harvest of the organic cacao beans.
After much experimentation and study in the fine art of chocolatiering, she was able to come up with a tasty, dark chocolate, reminiscent of the ancient Mayan or Toltec recipes, with hints of chili, organic vanilla, raw sugarcane, and “rough-cut” chocolate, ground by hand on traditional stone metates.
Kimberley continued to plant and develop “Finca Xocolata” and continued to grow Samaritan Xocolata into a viable micro-industry, with a tiny factory put together in a little house down the mountain that was on the grid and more accessible to the women in the community whom she wished to help with fair-trade employment. Hardships were not new to her, but they seemed endless.
One of the most difficult issues that she had to deal with was the tradition of hunting and poaching of animals in and around the protected areas of the park and Golfo Dulce Reserve, where her property was situated. Hunting was illegal in these areas, and now, in all of Costa Rica.
Although access through Finca Xocolata was restricted to the adjacent property owners only, the road and paths had been used for decades as access to the deep forest where tepisquintle, mountain pigs, tapirs, puma and jaguar made their habitat.
It was her passion for wildlife and nature and her conviction to change the patterns of a rural culture, and her tough pioneer spirit that never backed down that got her killed. On February 2nd, 2011, Kimberley Ann Blackwell was found dead on the ground outside her home by the park rangers who frequently used her farm to access the trails surrounding and leading into Corcovado Nacional Parque. To date, the crime of her murder has not been resolved and her killers have not been prosecuted.
Because of her courage and vision, we honour her in whatever ways we can. Continuing the Samaritan Xocolata vision of Helping People Feel Good with Chocolate, and in other ways, helping to protect forests and creatures of the forests are ways that we can carry on her light.