Seasons Change in the VI
MANY A TIME IS HAS BEEN SAID that the Virgin islands only have 2 seasons while the states have 4. It's time to set the record straight. We are entering "summer" today, on the longest day of the year. The solstice is just one of the markings of the many seasons here that are far more complex and nuanced than "wet" or "dry."
We are just getting out of our high pressure end of spring and watching the potential for rain to re-enter our daily consciousness at the farm: Don't leave the boombox in the field. Roll up your windows at night. Get our swales, ditches, french drains, and gutters in shape. Take the swimsuit off the clothes line.
Like the christmas winds season, when the Eastern Trade winds rake across the island and try to lift up our sheet mulch like magic carpets, this time of year is clearly marked as a transitional season. This time is a cue to cover those plants and think seriously about potential of strong storms and hotter days that want to bitter lettuce, cake the soil, and make us drip with effort. Or maybe we are just reveling in the past two days with some light rains that have dropped the temperature. They also made at least one person run out and dance.
Two seasons? There's a lot more at 17 and half degrees North than meets the eye. I've never actually counted, but I can identify at least 6 different times of year when the climate instructs our actions. You know, there's summer, the still hot time in late summer/early fall, rain season, the christmas winds, the dry coolish winter, and so on... Not to mention, there's also Mango, avocado, kennip, hogplum, LOCUST..... don't get me started!!
It is our wish that you enjoy the essence of this special VI season,
West Indian Locust seed pods
WTF (What's That Food)?
This week's strange food item: West Indian Locust, Hymenaea courbaril
The West Indian locust can be found throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central and South America. It thrives in moist forest regions.
It is also known as Jatobá, Guapinol or Algarrobo. On St. Croix and Jamaica however it has another very special name. It is called Stinkin' toe, old man's toe or stinktoe. These names derive from its appearance and smell.
Even though not everyone appreciates the smell when the seed pod is cracked open, the pulp in the seed pod is deliciously sweet. As Nate puts it "when the crisp, pungent smell hits a stinking toe veteran's nose, it activates the salivary glands". You will find the white-cream colored pulp/powder already processed in your bags. We hope you enjoy it, it is a specialty and it waited 9 months on the tree to finally fall and supplement your food!
How to use it:
West Indian Locust is perfect to prepare a nice dessert like ice cream, pudding or parfait (see recipes below). Chef Tahirah, our good friend, additionally recommends to add to your morning shake, smoothie or cereals. It is also common to make juice out of it.
In traditional folk medicine West Indian Locust is used extensively in traditional folk medicine. According to the Weed Women of the St. George Village Botanical Gardens on St. Croix, the smoke from copal resin helps alleviate headaches and rheumatism.
More interesting info in the St. John beach guide
West Indian Locust - Banana Pudding
5 ripe bananas
1 CSA bag stinkin’ toe powder
3 tablespoons coconut oil
A dash of sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mash all ingredients together and let it cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Serve it as pure pudding, on ice cream or further experiment. Enjoy!
The following recipe has been part of our winter season's CSA newsletter, however we want to give the new members the chance to test it out, too.
West Indian Locust Parfait
by Chef Tahirah
2 ½ tablespoons flour
2/3 cup cane/ natural sugar
1/3 cup locust Powder
2 ½ cups coconut milk
2 egg yolks – beat – (set egg whites aside)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
Combine flour, sugar, locust powder and milk – stir – add and cook custard over double boiler – over boiling water – stir constantly – add beaten egg yolk – continue to cook until it thickens – now whip egg white – add salt and then fold together into the mix – set to cook. – put in freezer trays or bowl until frozen – serve in tall glosses.
Topper: whip cream, grinded chocolate, or fresh fruit.
Note: Locust powder has many purposes. You can make juice out of it or add it to your morning shake, to cereals, smoothies etc.
Kayla feeding our lovely chickens
Diary of a R2R student...
" I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the farm upon my arrival. I am a masters student at the University of South Florida studying Global Sustainability. I can't imagine a better place to study than Ridge to Reef Farm, one of the the most practical permaculture farms in the world.
My first weekend on the farm we hosted two Slow Down Dinners with Chef Keith Weitzman. It was an incredible experience. People from the island came to the farm for a six course meal made from all organic, natural, (as much as possible) locally grown food. It was amazing to be able to share the knowledge on the farm with the people of the community. I am very excited to learn and study sustainability and permaculture design hands on for the next six weeks.
~ Kayla Sinotte, current Ridge to Reef Beneficial Farmer Training student
From the field...
The last two weeks have been really dry weeks. Pumping water has been and still is a daily activity. Watering the plants is definitely first priority at the moment.
A few young fruit trees and plants unfortunately didn't make it. The great side of the unusual dry season though, is that it is a great time to mow and weed the farm. A challenge for our bushmen is the buzzing life in the high grass, the vines and the trees. "You hear a humming sound, better drop everything and run", Nate says. Bees and wasps are enjoying their their little realm and don't want to be disturbed.
The chickens are also enjoying the nice sunny weather. They are cleaning their feathers by rolling in dried mud. Some of them manage to gain more freedom and scratch and roll around in the fields. The freshly planted dill became victim of these actions and will have to be replanted one of those days.
The egg production is going up and mongoose attacks become less. [Ed. note, Today we are also shipping a bag of frozen mongoose all captured in the hen tractors for a local bird sanctuary's hawk re-introduction program]
Gaia garden is now fully surrounded by a net and is safe from visits of deer and chickens at the moment, and hopefully forever. Bush beans, cranberry hibiscus, lettuce heads, basil and okra are all growing well there and can soon be enjoyed by you.
Another great news is that mangoes are in a full swing and passion fruits are dropping all over the farm and still haven't even hit the peek. If you find the time to visit your farm, you will be able to see many green passion fruits hanging on the vines getting ready to fall.
~ 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
Matt, holding it down and stepping up during the last two weeks while representing Patrick, our farm manager. Believe me, he did an awesome job and is deserves to be called "farmer of the week"!
The Week's Harvest
Okra or beans
West Indian Locust powder
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).