Who knew restoration could taste so good? Named after Madagascar's Voatsiperifery (Piper borbonense) peppercorns, this project combines conservation and cooking to create economic incentives that protect and restore endangered forest.
The Phoenix Conservancy is partnering with local communities in Madagascar to sustainably cultivate Voatsiperifery vines in our Foxhole Forest restoration sites. The delicious peppercorns produced by these plants can be sold to generate income that feeds families and funds further restoration activities, all which disincentivizing deforestation.
Want some peppercorns? Become a monthly donor and we'll send you a sample as a thank you gift!
Fresh Voatsiperifery peppercorns.
Voatsiperifery (Piper borbonense)
Only found in Madagascar's forests, Voatsiperifery vines are a relatively widespread but significantly underutilized resource in local cooking and conservation. The species prefers forest edge habitats with lots of sunlight, making it an ideal addition to our Foxhole Forests. The aroma of peppercorns fills the forests in which they grow. Combined with our other Social Enterprise projects, Voatsiperifery makes forest far more valuable standing up than cut down.
Voatsiperifery peppercorns are closely related to the black pepper we all have in our kitchens, except Voatsiperifery is far bolder, pinier, and more floral. The peppercorns are just as versatile as black pepper and elevate any dish in which they are used, from pasta to steak to salads to cocktails.
A Voatsiperifery vine with flowers.
Dire economic conditions are the root of Madagascar’s ecological degradation, inhibiting the restoration activities necessary to buffer the country from and adapt to climate change. Without economic systems that incentivize restoration, Madagascar’s already precarious state will devolve into catastrophe.
Voatsiperifery peppercorns offer an opportunity to add value to standing forest while providing a self-perpetuating system that ensures long-term restoration and socioeconomic development.
A person enters living quarters in the evening at the base of Ivohiboro.
A Sakoa tree stands in the grassland below Ivohiboro Forest, Madagascar.
A local Voatsiperifery cultivator holds a bowl filled with dried peppercorns.
Voatsiperifery peppercorns are highly valued and rare in international spice markets, despite the plant being relatively common in Madagascar's dwindling forests and infrequently used in local cuisine. The peppercorns are sustainably harvested by hand from plants growing along forest edges and are then dried in the sun for several weeks before they are ready for sale and consumption.
Voatsiperifery's aroma is like a warm hug, and we aren't kidding when we say Madagascar's forests smell like the peppercorns. Their flavor is bold and complex, with a bit more heat and piney and floral notes than regular black pepper. If you prefer subtlety, grinding a mix of 1:1 Voatsiperifery to black pepper balances the spice's stronger accents with black pepper's more familiar taste.
Supporting communities through restoration
We will plant Voatsiperifery in our Foxhole Forest restoration sites, allowing the vines to grow on the new trees, particularly Sakoa, adding value and disincentivizing timber harvest. Community members can sustainably harvest peppercorns for sale.
We will sell the peppercorns to spice distributors (such as World Spice Merchants) and individual buyers to generate funding for further restoration activities in Madagascar.
We will buy Voatsiperifery peppercorns directly from communities, providing immediate income that feeds families and improves local livelihoods.
Net revenue generated by sales to businesses and individuals will fund further restoration activities, particularly through local job creation. In this way, communities are incentivized to continue restoration through our initiatives and on their own.
Phoenix Conservancy staff learn about Voatsiperifery cultivation from local producers and botanists.
Incentivize further planting of Voatsiperifery.
Disincentivize cutting down and delimbing trees for charcoal production.
Connect local communities to global markets.
Establish a self-perpetuating, restoration-based economic engine.
Improve local livelihoods through direct income and restoration job creation.
Tie the Voatsiperifery project to our other social enterprise programs to develop a holistic model for restoration throughout Madagascar.
Transfer management of the project to communities within 20 years.
Lahy, one of thousands of community members we have hired, says she and her family were able to survive famine thanks to the income provided by restoration-based jobs.
How To Help
Donations go a long way in Madagascar, so please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to support our efforts. Monthly donors over $10 and $35 will receive a 1- and 4-fl. oz. sample of peppercorns as a thank you gift! You can also visit our Wishlist to provide allocated funding for specific items we need, or you can purchase merchandise from our store.
We're bringing Voatsiperifery to U.S. markets, so subscribe to our newsletter (below) and follow us on social media to find out where and when you can buy some yourself!
Our progress on the Voatsiperifery Project is entirely due to the generous financial support from numerous individual donors and partnerships with businesses like World Spice Merchants, Lodgepole in Moscow, ID, and Etsi Bravo in Pullman, WA. To everyone who has contributed to our efforts, thank you!