Reserva Zorzal is a 1,019-acre organic cacao farm and bird sanctuary located in a moist, broadleaf-rainforest region of the northern Dominican Republic. Charles (Chuck) Kerchner co-founded Reserva Zorzal and Zorzal Cacao (a.k.a. Cacao del Bosque S.R.L) in 2012, hoping to prove that a for-profit business could be a viable, economically sustainable driver of environmental conservation.
Chuck and his co-founders (Jamie Phillips, Jesus Moreno, Jaimie Moreno, Angelica Moreno, and Sesar Rodriguez) bought a relatively undeveloped 412-hectare (1000-acre) piece of land in the mountains of the Duarte Province. They divided it into Reserva Zorzal (the bird sanctuary) and Zorzal Estate (the farm) to protect a critical habitat and simultaneously grow high-quality cacao. While Zorzal Cacao processes and sells estate-grown cacao under the name “Zorzal Estate,” the company also buys freshly harvested beans from neighboring farms, ferments them, and sells them, under the name “Zorzal Comunitario.”
Unlike many origins where we source beans, the Dominican Republic has a thriving national cocoa industry, and Chuck supports and retains staff through continual education. When possible, Dandelion runs annual customer trips to visit Zorzal and the Zorzal team. To learn more, visit our Trips page — or sign up for our newsletter, in which we announce new origin trips.