Like kids again, we are climbing and swinging from trees, harvesting for our CSA food "village." The summer is bringing many fruity delights that we are so excited to share along with the veggies and herbs you need to compliment each week for a summer of local organic food.
Lest week we re-perfected the art of throw-the-stick-with-the-rope over the tamarind tree, heavy with its sour fruit, longing (we think) to be reincarnated as an Indian cuisine dish. We are running around the many passion fruit plantings we have made and picking them up into 5-gallon buckets like an easter egg hunt. We reached high with pickers for mangoes, but so far a lackluster mango season left us with only enough for a well-earned lunch.
The fields are full with plantings of various herbs and veggies to feed us all this season, and we are not the only ones noticing. The deer, doves, and trushees are moving in hard. Apparently we forgot to account for their "shares" in the season! The deer are mauling your beans! Fortunately, we have enough for everyone -although we prefer they eat the GRASS instead to make our jobs easier:)
We are using some of the CSA money you have provided to us right away: We ordered new PTO drives for our wood chipper and for two grass cutters, which will be used to create more compost. In a setback, our tractor's grass cutter met an ancient unfortunate strip of metal fencing hiding in 8 feet of grass that shattered the drivetrain and twisted the rest just like a Swizzler.
Our next purchase, other than more cutter parts, is a new seed order and pole saw so we can reclaim our many hedgerows of moringa and mixed fruit plantings. We are also paying the VI Honey Man to relocate two massive bee hives at my house next to the large CSA row crop fields. This will help greatly with higher pollination rates and hopefully result in some honey harvesting too! We'll see how much it yields, as we don't want to take all their family's food.
Finally, we are seeking a professional grower to help Patrick keep up with all the food as we try to expand the market. After seeing a tremendous demand for our organic CSA shares, we feel more confident that we can carry another employee who can help us push over the threshold it takes for the next big steps in food production for the USVI. There's still a long road ahead, but as farmer Jacob says, "It's a marathon, not a sprint."
We are off to another great season, and it's all due to you and your investment in the USVI's local sustainable food chain.
In Ripe Appreciation,
Nate and the Ridge to Reef Farm Crew
Lipstick Plant seeds are used for their brilliant red coloring and a host of medicinal uses.
WTF (What's That Food)?
This week's strange food item: Lip Stick Tree (or Achiote), Bixa orellana
The strange red pointy pod in your bag this week is a regionally native plant used for thousands of years in food. Inside each pod is a collection of small red forming seeds. The coating around the seed portion produces a red dye, which is one of the most well-known safe food colorings in the world. Ever wonder how many latin-cuisines get their red, such as rice and pork? This is the stuff!
One word of caution, however. It is a dye, so watch it an your clothing when you handle it. You will see it on your fingertips if squeeze them. Since does wash out, this is a perfect and completely safe and edible skin coloring, which gives it's common name "lipstick bush." It is wonderful for face painting with kids, with its nice rosy red hue. So if you're feeling adventurous, you can feel free to play with your food here! Mix with a little egg white for a high-quality non-toxic body paint!
Info on Lipstick Bush's Many Medicinal Uses
Achiote paste, favored in Yucatán and Oaxacan cuisine, is made from the slightly bitter, earthy flavored, red annatto seeds, mixed with other spices and ground into a paste. Achiote is a distinctly colored and flavored mainstay of the Mexican kitchen.
A typical preparation mixes:
1/4 cup annatto seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 teaspoon salt
5 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 cup bitter orange juice (Seville) or 1/3 cup white vinegar
Grind the spices (annatto, coriander, cumin, peppercorns, oregano and cloves) in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. Blend the ground spices with the salt, garlic and the bitter orange juice until it is smooth. Rub the mixture onto chicken, pork or fish and let it marinate for 4–6 hours then cook as usual. Or use the achiote as an ingredient in another dish.
The paste is dissolved in either lemon juice, water, oil or vinegar to create a marinade, and marinated or rubbed directly upon meat. The meat is then grilled, baked, barbecued or broiled. Sometimes it is added to corn dough to create a zesty flavor and color in empanadas and red tamales.
Fruit and water break for Chris and Tony.
Meet the Farmers...
Chris and Tony have been two of the volunteers that made their way from Salt River to the farm this week. They helped preparing beds, weeding and gathering mulch.
Their motives? Both of them like the idea of growing own food and they want to be part of it. Chris adds "we're really helping out history. People have been wanting to grow food here for hundreds and hundreds of years. We are doing what all those people fromt he past tried to do."
We are thankful for their attitude and their presence.
~ Nadja, former apprentice
From the field...
We accomplished to set up the last sets of trip tape in the fields.
After about three hot and dry weeks, the weather provided us with enough rain so we didn't have to irrigate the past couple of days.
We accomplished to set up the last sets of trip tape in the fields. Shelli managed the chickens, secured their fences so Mongoose have less chances of getting to them and also prepared their beds with the freshly harvested guinea grass. One can observe that the chicken's are really satisfied with her.
Moreover, this week was educational for us. Our potting shed became the venue for a crafting research project of Andrew Petran, a grad student at the University of Minnesota. He says: "Crafting is really trendy at the moment and it has been a wild success." Luckily he shared his knowledge about crafting tomatoe scion onto wild eggplant roots. This method could help St. Croix's farmers to produce more weather acclimated tomatoes. A success would lead to more tomatoes for you!
~ Nadja, former apprentice
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
Farmer of the week
Shelli, chicken savior of the week
The Week's Harvest
Lipstick Plant Pods
We need your help, we need your hands!
Volunteer at Ridge to Reef Farm
Farming with a small crew trying to provide organic and local food for a big community isn't always easy. You can help us by joining our VOLUNTEER days every Saturday from 7:30 am to 11:30 am. A group cooked lunch with mostly ingredients from the farm will be the reward for hungry farmers and gives the opportunity to lean back and relax.
Bring your family, bring your friends and enjoy spending time in nature, having fun by being part of a great vision. We gladly welcome every person who finds the way up to the farm!
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).