Caroline MacDougall

As the CEO of Teeccino Caffé, Caroline pioneered the introduction of ramón seeds, a traditional food of the Maya civilization that is wild-harvested in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala.  She has worked in partnership with several international non-profit organizations including Rainforest Alliance and GIZ as well as the local Association of Forest Communities of Peten (ACOFOP) to fund the organic certification, collection and drying of ramón seeds within the Reserve.

Ramón trees grow wild throughout Central American forests where they can comprise up to 20% of the tree population. Once called the “corn tree” by the Maya, this nutrient rich, fiber dense seed comes from the fruit of the Brosimum Alicastrum tree, a member of the fig family, which also includes mulberry trees. They are the only wind-pollinated tree species and are frequently the lead species to reestablish forests in areas that have been clear-cut. Despite being a free and nutritious food, ramón seeds were going to waste on the forest floor before Caroline began the work to develop this crop in 2000 for use in her herbal beverage, Teeccino.

By giving value to ramón seeds and financial support to workshops that educate women on harvesting and preparing ramón seeds for their families, Caroline’s company, Teeccino, has helped to improve the nutrition of impoverished families in Guatemala. The development of new trade in ramón seeds has supported the establishment of local businesses that provides jobs for women and products like baked goods for distribution to Guatemalan schoolchildren.