Dragon Fruit

What is Dragon Fruit?

It's a dragon! No, it's a fruit! Well, actually ... it's a cactus.

Dragon fruit is the delicious, yet dangerously spiky, yellow fruit that comes from cactus varieties in South America.

In North America, we're accustomed to a bright pink dragon fruit, which typically comes from Asia.  In China the fruit is referred to as huǒlóng guǒ (火龍果), which translates to 'fire dragon fruit'! The juicy yellow dragon fruit we have is grown in Colombia - its real name is Pitahaya, but in English its nickname 'dragon fruit' has stuck! 

This fruit grows in rows, similar to a vineyard. The plant is lifted off of the ground to help it grow and allow for easier harvesting. 

GREAT THINGS ABOUT DRAGON FRUIT

  • It contains vitamins: It's high in Vitamin C and B
  • It aids digestion! It's high in fibre and can help to get things moving in a healthy, organic way! (Warning: We don't recommend eating an entire package at once.)
  • It's brand new! It's our newest product, and we're excited about it!
  • It benefits farmers in Colombia! Read about Simon and members of the dragon fruit farmers association here. 

 

Dried Dragon Fruit
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A ripe dragon fruit before the spikes have  been removed.

A ripe dragon fruit before the spikes have  been removed.

This variety of dragon fruit has a juicy white flesh. 

This variety of dragon fruit has a juicy white flesh. 

The vineyard-like rows of dragon fruit!

The vineyard-like rows of dragon fruit!

New Fruit!

Introducing ... our new fruit lineup! 5 organic dried fruit options, now including banana and dragonfruit!

Launching today are the bright, new, beautiful packages. So what's new?

  • They're all organic. Certified organic golden berry, mango, pineapple, banana, dragon fruit and cacao from Colombia.
  • Two new fruits: banana and dragon fruit on their own for the first time ever! 
  • New farmer faces. Each fruit features a unique farmer face of a member of that growers' association. 
  • Convenient snack size. They're a little bit smaller, to allow you to grab and go with them. The perfect hiking/camping/airplane snack! 

Plus, all of your favourite things have stayed the same:

  • No added sugars, preservatives, or sulphites. Just delicious fruit.
  • Fair Trade fruits grown by small-scale farmers in Colombia.
Level Ground dried fruit packages
Level Ground pineapple package
Level Ground banana package

Meet Simon.

Meet Simon, Leader of the dragon fruit farmers association.

Simon and his wife Nancy live just outside of Pitalito, Colombia. It's a small town, even by Colombian standards. The trek to Simon's farm is incredible, the colours of each building flash by as you ride in the back of his truck. The ride is never made alone - when we travelled in January 2018, Simon's son (Simon Philipé) and labourers joined us for the journey.

As the leader of the dragon fruit farmers association, Simon's role is to bring the five farmers together. He builds capacity, amalgamates orders and takes care of the members. The five members of the association consist of himself, his brother Fernando, and three men who used to be labourers on Simon's land. 

Fair Trade wages have allowed Simon's labourers to purchase land of their own, and join the association. They're even able to hire more labourers to work for them! This means more families are seeing the effects of a stable income. 

Because you choose to purchase this dragon fruit, these families have a stable income and can afford to hire more people to work together on their land. Purchasing thoughtfully allows the financial impacts to continually ripple outwards. 

 

Simon, the face of Dragon Fruit, with the new package!

Simon, the face of Dragon Fruit, with the new package!

Esteban, one of the farmers, sees himself of the back of the new package for the first time.

Esteban, one of the farmers, sees himself of the back of the new package for the first time.

Level Ground's Dave and Robyn visit with the Dragon Fruit farmers in Colombia!

Level Ground's Dave and Robyn visit with the Dragon Fruit farmers in Colombia!

Fruandes Organic Farmers Meeting

Fruandes, our dried fruit and cane sugar partner in Colombia, shared the following with us.


This summer, Fruandes held the sixth organic farmers meeting in Ipiales, Nariño (Colombia). The On this occasion, Fruandes visited and shared some time with each of the members of the Biofruit Napoli association, a group of organic golden berries producers led by Albeiro Chamorro.

The focus of the meeting was 'The Farm as a Set of Good Practices'. Participants exchanged farming practices, in order to co-create and improve processes. 

The agenda had four stages:

1. Good Practices 

The 2-day meeting began with the participation of all association members. Each member shared their best practices and strategies in terms of quality and sourcing.

Together they identified the following good practices:

  1. Loyalty and organizational commitment

  2. Persistence and good project management

  3. Good organizational management

  4. Strategic leadership

  5. Inclusive governance

  6. Good logistics and traceability through effective communications

 

2. The Chagra Route

A Chagra is an Indigenous farming system. It's not only a collective activity wherein farmers and indigenous people produce their own food, but also a learning place where traditional beliefs are connected with organic production and divinity.

We visited the Chagra in the afternoon. The aim of this activity was to observe, and analyze how we can replicate these kinds of farms. Fruandes encourages farmers to grow healthy, nourishing foods for their own households. 

 

3. Visit to the organic golden berry farms

The Fruandes community visited the farms of several Biofruit association members to know more about growing organic golden berries. First, we visited Hernando Chamorro’s farm, where we had a tour of his fields and learned about his composting practices. Next, we went to visit Albeiro Chamorro’s farm, and toured around the farm as he explained the golden berry picking process. Later, we visited Gildardo Rosero´s farm. He is in charge of raising the seedlings of the golden berries for all farmers belonging to the association. Lastly, we visited the farms of Jaime, Enrique and Leonardo López in the José María Hernández village, located in Pupiales. There we learned about other products made from golden berries.

 

4. Gathering and cultural exchanges 

At the community center in the village of José María Hernández, we participated in the last activity of the meeting, much anticipated by participants. We described the organizational structure of Fruandes with two main objectives: 1) To know the roles of each on the Fruandes team; and 2) To replicate this model within each association to improve their organizational structure.

To be faithful and loyal are the keys of success.
— Albeiro Chamorro, Biofruit Napoli Association
Fruandes is a knowledge center!
— Orlando Rodriguez, Banana Farmer
Germán Betancourt, Organic Development Leader (far left) with organic pineapple farmers from the Cauca region.

Germán Betancourt, Organic Development Leader (far left) with organic pineapple farmers from the Cauca region.

Fabio Baron, Fruandes Logistics and Service Leader (left), on the farm of Hernan Chamorro, the pioneer of the organic golden berry production in Nariño.

Fabio Baron, Fruandes Logistics and Service Leader (left), on the farm of Hernan Chamorro, the pioneer of the organic golden berry production in Nariño.

A traditional dance from Nariño on the last day of the meeting.

A traditional dance from Nariño on the last day of the meeting.