The Grass is Always Browner
It's dry. After 3 years it seems we might have our first real dry period on the farm, but we aren't counting on it. I recall years past when all the hills were brown and the weeds were somewhat easy to control. That has not been the case until recently. The last three years have proved extremely challenging to get ahead of the weeds and bush but now we have a window of opportunity.
Fortunately our CSA is there to help bail us out again, so we used funds to upgrade our weedwacker, pole-pruner, and tractor mowing parts to get back on top of the "green wall". This is the break we have been waiting for!
However, all the dryness means watering is extremely crucial for our plants, chickens, and ruminants. Some borderline fruit trees have died but so have many of the vines holding down the more healthy ones, so we are trying to uncover more and more of the farm that has been obscured.
Matt and Jacob have been doing a great job staying on top of our watering, which simply cannot take even one day of neglect. Fortunately we have several wells on the property and all of our pumping is done using 100% solar-powered pumps, so no fossil fuels are being used to create your nice crunchy, juicy cucumbers!
Last week I mentioned we were looking to hire some help and we got it this week with the addition of Jaleel Yearwood to our staff. This young man is a product of Frederiksted and he was first exposed to us through our participation in the VI Department of Labor's Youth Summer Experience Mentorship program several years ago. He was a stand-out performer in farming and we are proud to have him join our team today as a paid member. You will hear more about him in a later issue of the newsletters, so stay tuned!
Thanks for supporting your food community,
Chaya: A year-round high-nutrient food supply for the tropics
WTF (What's That Food)?
This week's strange food item: Chaya
Also known as "mexican" or "tree" spinach, Chaya was listed by the National Academy of Sciences as one of the most "underexploited" food plants in the world. This native to central america and the caribbean has very high levels of protein, calcium, iron, and carotene, & Vitamins A, C, & B. It is also easy to grow and can resist drought (iguanas, however, are a different story). It cooks like collards and can be used like spinach after being boiled. Add your favorite spices after boiling, draining, and chopping into strips -Nate recommends turmeric & curry!
**Chaya must be cooked (boiled) for 10 minutes before it should be eaten in quanitity**
·In a study completed by USDA, chaya leaves were found to contain substantially greater amounts of nutrients than spinach.
Okra: Clemson Spineless and Red Burgandy.
Another sorta' strange food item: Okra
Planted in March, ready now. The Okra has been under attack of our dear deer. Working with fishing line to keep them out of the fields did not work out long-term. Deer are too smart and will just figure a way out. So another fencing plan and ivory soap is in process.
Other than the deer situation, the Okra has a good life here. It does enormously well. Originally it is said to come from Africa brought to America by slaves three centuries ago. It is part of the same family as hibiscus and cotton and it's scientific name is Abelmoschus esculentus. Okra is also commonly known as lady's finger or gumbo.
Okra can be stored in the fridge in a paper bag, perforated plastic bag or wrapped in a paper towel for 2 to 3 days. Frozen it can survive for about 12 months.
How to use it:
These varieties can get long and still be tender. Okra tastes great raw, marinated in salads or cooked on its own. At the farm we also pickle it. To pickle it, use the small Okra and put it in a Vinegar-Salt-Pepper solution as whole. Feel free to experiment with seasoning like Dill.
Get more info on Okra
Bag of Chaya (NEVER EAT RAW)
1 green papaya, 1 onion
1 garlic head
a pinch of salt, pepper & paprika (hot pepper)
Boil Chaya in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes!
1. Peel and slice papaya, onion and garlic. (add turmeric for a kick)
2. Saute garlic, onions and papaya in oil.
3. Add seasoning and chopped chaya when papaya is soft and cook for a few more minutes.
Enjoy while hot!
Okra-Red Wine by Patrick
First heat a pan with oil. Then add the sliced garlic and let it unfold its flavor. Add the Okra. Heat it for a few minutes, add the sea salt and mix with the red wine (only as much as the Okra can soak in). Let sit for a minute and serve warm. Some cheese and herbs (Basil) may be added on top (Mozzarella/ Parmesan).
It is delicious with couscous or rice.
Nadja thinks that it can be used as a tomatoe sauce substitute for example on noodles or pizza.
Meet the Farmer...
"Hello my name is Cinnamon and I am a Boer goat. I am one of the most characterful and hungry animals on the farm. I think the grass on the other side of the fence is definitely greener than where people want me to hang out usually. I also think that one should cross fences and borders some time anyway, just to see new things and to visit old friends at their places or in the fields.
My ancestors actually made a move like this. They came over from South Africa. And I am sure they came here because Ridge to Reef Farm has Moringa like in South Africa. It's simply my favourite food!!
When I hear the branches cracking it only takes a milisecond until my mouth is filled with saliva. Then the call is to run fast, faster than the sheep, Pipen the donkey and of course the rest of the goats. I'm sure will know what I talk about the day you will have Moringa in your CSA bags!"
~ 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
Jacob (on the right), is Ridge to Reef Farm's dedicated intern who has tended much of your food. He will be leaving June 18th after successfully completing his contract to live with his wife who just moved to the island,but will be back to help out from time to time. We enjoyed working with you Jacob, and wish you all the best for your future!
Farmer of the week
The Week's Harvest
Beans (not much thanks to the deer)
Asian Greens (higher heat tolerance)
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).