The first step for us was to find a way to remove those hard, black, round seeds from the soapberry husks. A sticky problem that we hope we have solved. We will find out for sure as we get started on this year’s harvest.
The next question is what to do with all of those little black seeds. When we talk to people here about the soapberries (jaboncillo), they would sometimes give us a blank look that would suddenly clear into a big grin. “Oh yes, I remember. We used to play marbles with the seeds.” Like I said, they are very round.
We also discovered that they make nice beads for jewlery making. You need a drill to make a hole, though. Like I said, they are very hard. That gives us another group of artisans we could benefit by marketing their creative soapberry seed creations. If we can find a market. (Interested? Let us know) That would help, but will make a fairly small dent in the pile of seeds.
If our company takes off, and the market for Honduran soapberries increases, we are hoping that a lot of people will plant trees. That, obviously, requires seeds, of which we have a lot. You would think that would be the easy part, but things do tend to get complicated. We need to figure out which are the best varieties of seed to have people plant. Does the elevation matter? The soil? Neither one? Which seed to plant where is one of the things we are trying to figure out.
Soap berries are brand new as a commercial product in Central America and we are breaking new ground every time we turn around. If soapberries are going to become a sustainable product in Honduras we have to think about how to market the seeds as well as the outer pods. We are investigating their use as bio-fuel, or animal feed. We understand that the oil used to be used for lamps years ago, so we are looking into the potential specialized use of the oil. (Interested? Let us know)
Potential seems to be one of our key words these days. Lots of potential. Which of all these potentialities are going to be the ones that will help us make the soapberry project work? We are figuring that out.
Meanwhile, anyone for a game of marbles?