Celebration of Seasons
WOW! We are officially at the halfway-point of our CSA, and there is still so much more to come. Already we are planning out our next season, projected to start May 30. We want you to know first as you hear about our upcoming plans that you pioneering CSA members will have first option to buy in to the spring/summer season. Soon, we will release the deadlines for the next season and the exciting crops that are in the pipeline for summer, especially those fruits already budding. The VI food revolution is ON, and you are making it happen.
I want to inform you of what our growing food community is up to, because there is a lot going on you can take part in, so add these to your calendar.
April 7 - Guest Chef Slow Down Dinner at Ridge to Reef Farm. 6 creative courses prepared by a top chef in the territory (TBA) on the farmhouse porch.
April 21 - Virgin Gourmet launch event and reggae concert. The television series presents its first syndicated show that will air on TEMPO, featuring the star Chef Theo Gumbs and R2R Farm. Artist Niyorah and friends will be performing a solar show at the Ridge to Reef Community Center, during the week of the St. Croix Food and Wine Experience!
April 28 - Pig Roast and acoustic music with Big Guns Rock at R2R Farm. Local food and music combine again for a seasonal outdoor feast, with local food sourced from the farm and other producers from St. Croix.
May 25-38 - Organic Yoga Retreat - Yoga and Slow Food combined. CSA members including Yogi Marshan Sam and community organizer Sarah Haynes bring you our first ever Yoga retreat on the peaceful farm.
And don't forget, there is a standing invitation for you to take a farm stay and/or volunteer with us. Come out and visit YOUR farm.
This year has been dedicated to the spirit of Ellen Nettles. She had a passion for promoting local food, and that has been a large part of our success up to this point. We think she would be proud. Above, you see the sunflowers we planted with her father Jim in her memory. As we move forward, we carry with us the passion and dedication of Ellen and all those many hands that have created the community basket we are able to share today.
-Nate Olive, Director
Sugar Cane, a heritage crop for the Virgin Islands
WTF (What's That Food)?
This week's strange food item: Sugar Cane
Yes, it's another one of the fantastic dicot grasses AGAIN! They are so weird. This one is a special one, especially here in the Virgin Islands. Sugar Cane, in the genus Saccharum, refers to over 35 different species. Did you know sugar cane is the world's leading crop, even more than corn?
No other crop has changed the face of the USVI like this one. Treated like currency, it was the gold or oil of the day when St. Croix was the top cane producer in the region. Not a lot of people know it, but because St. Croix does not get too much rain and has flat lands(which waters down the sugar), it became the best place to grow the highest sugar concentrated cane in the eastern Caribbean. Of course, it's value led to the brutal Danish slave trade and the nearly complete deforestation of the Virgin Islands. In the process of hundreds of years of one crop, the USVI lost topsoil, and even the running waters that gave St. Croix it's Taino name, Ay Ay, which means "the river," now just an ancestral memory.
Today, we are using sugar cane to plant breaks in our living hillside terraces. It is an easy crop to grow here, requiring no additional irrigation and when grown sustainably, and a real treat from a long day in the field. Once king, it is now a valuable member of the more diverse food village. It reminds us of the permaculture principle: Diversity = Stability
How to use it:
Sugar cane can be processed until raw sugar, crushed to make a raw simple sugar fluid for adding into cooking (cut into small chunks if you are contemplating the blender), or just peeled, quartered, and chewed for a ready-to-eat treat. Of course, you could make rum too, but that is a different story!
Jacob on our peaceful farm with Sugar the goat.
Meet the Farmer...
Jacob Collums, farm apprentice
Surrounded by cows, pigs, horses, chickens, ducks, geese and quails he gained his first farming experiences. On his father’s hobby farm in Oklahoma he helped out on the fields and figured that he really liked what he was doing there. During college he spent time on his teammate’s cattle ranch and when he ended up with a Master of Biology last year, his desire was to become fully involved in organic farming in Colorado. However, this was before he went on a vacation to Jamaica and got infected with the love for the Caribbean.
Following his heart, he started to search online and found our website. He directly applied and got an email from Nate a few days later. One week later he was sweating in the fields with us and cuddling “Sugar” our runt baby goat (in the beginning of January). Since that time
Right now his goal is to do the best and as much as he can for the farm. “Helping this farm grow is helping myself grow at the same time and I’ll see where it will take me.” Maybe one day he will leave this “place of serenity and peacefulness” and share his experiences on his own farm back home with the rest of his family. We appreciate all the contributions of Jacob, and essential person of the CSA and much more!
"From the Fields"
All the rain we’ve been getting has certainly been beneficial in one way: the plants are taking off! The excess moisture seeps into the soil and increases the plants ability to absorb minerals and nutrients. Our garden area called Gaia Trellis, where we have several beds of crops is producing heavily now. Greens onions, collards, swiss chard, radishes, chayote, arugula, bok choy and lettuce wave happily in the light breezes that blow down the alleys. These long beds were done in a ‘french intensive’ method of planting densely to maximize space use.
The Gaia trellis gardens are also beautiful example of how the farm uses agroforestry practices to create microclimates optimal to growing conditions. Fruit or nut trees strategically planted along crop beds bring coolness to the intensity of the sun, give a crop themselves, and can even contribute to the health of the soil. Common trees we use in agroforestry include coconut and banana palms, mango, papaya, meringa, Malabar chestnut, and ylang ylang.
~ Julia, R2R Graduate, Intern
PO Box 2903 - Frederiksted USVI 00841 - www.visfi.org - firstname.lastname@example.org - 340 220 0466
Ridge to Reef Farm @ the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute
"Guest Chef Slow Down Dinner w/Chef Tahirah "
The Week's Harvest
Sorrel, a wonderful hibiscus for a refreshing tea
Sweet Sorrel Hibiscus Tea
6 cups filtered water
5 oz. whole sorrel flowers (arils)
1/2 c. fresh lime juice
peeled, diced, crushed sugar cane, to taste
Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat. Add hibiscus blossoms and allow to steep, add crushed cane and resulting cane juice, keep covered.
When cool, add additional sugar or honey to taste, and lime juice. Mix and chill for a refreshing tea!
Preparation time: 10 min.
THANK YOU HOSTS!
Polly's at the Pier Frederiksted, St. Croix
Barefoot Buddha Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas
Thurs 11:30am-1:30 pm
Miriam's Restaurant Christiansted, St. Croix
Sun 4 -5:30pm
M2M (member to member)
We invite you to take part in the creation of our weekly newsletters.
Share your recipes and pictures, your experiences with the R2R Farm or your thoughts on sustainable farming matters.
We then will do our best to fit it in and share it in one of our upcoming newsletters.
We look forward to your responses!
Got some things laying around we can re-use in the CSA
Ridge to Reef Farm serves the US Virgin Islands with certified organic produce grown with sustainable permaculture practices (and a lot of love).