Heilala Vanilla was started by the Ross family as an aid project in 2002. After a cyclone ravaged the Kingdom of Tonga, a chain of islands in the South Pacific, the New Zealand family partnered with a family in the village of Utungake to establish a small vanilla plantation.
Grown in virgin soil on coconut-husk frames, the Heilala Vanilla orchids were hand-pollinated and sustainably harvested before the traditional curing and drying process took place under the tropical sun. In 2004, the first modest 45 kilos crop of the Bourbon beans was sold to some of the best chefs in Australia.
As the popularity of its pure vanilla products grow with pastry chefs and home bakers around the world —