Hard Work Pays Off
The heat is on in Caledonia and summer is in full force just after last week's Summer Solstice! This means we are watching closely our plants and trying our best to keep everything and everyone well watered and happy.
It also means our summer camp has started, where the kids are learning how to farm organically while earning service credits for their high schools across the country. Led by Patrick, the farm crew and our Ridge to Reef students are showing our visitors the ropes in the field. Shelli is taking the craft and product-making to new levels with the kids, so that after a hard day in the hot field they get to lime out in the shade carving out a calabash bowl or making a traditional fishing net out of natural fibers.
Facing difficult growing conditions and extreme dryness, we are switching this week to more short-term crops and quick-turn-around items that will coming out next months, since we can't grow the full lettuces without them bittering in the heat as they try to bolt (shooting flower stalk).
The lessons of growing seasonally go hand-in-hand with eating seasonally, and we are glad you are getting the insights of the process of what it takes to grow local organic food in the VI. I am extremely proud of our farm crew, students, visitors, and volunteering CSA members for facing the heat with joy to keep our season pumping strong. Together, we are revolutionizing our islands' food system one week at time!
Also, we are starting to post our past season's digital newsletters on our new site, www.ridge2reef.org so you can get access to past recipes and much more! They will be added over the next week for you!
Thanks for growing with us,
image source: http://www.miracletrees.org/
WTF (What's That Food)?
This week's strange food item: Moringa flowers, Moringa oleifera
Moringa, also called a miracle tree, is a staple at the farm. It is nutritious, has super powers and works well in almost every meal. Due to the taste of its roots Moringa is also known as the horseraddish tree. Cause of the appearance of the long and thin seed pods it is called drumstick tree as well. It is widely used in hot areas like Africa and South East Asia for years.
It is a multi-purpose tree and fulfills a very high percentage of the human basic needs like purifying water.
Find out more about Moringa here (source: Discovery Channel)
In today's produce bag you will find Moringa flowers.
How to use it:
They can be used as tea, in salad, in soups, on top of eggs, in casseroles, on pizza, raw, sauteed, cooked or fried. You can definitely become creative. Whatever you do, it will be great for your body.
Moringa Flower Power
moringa tender leaves
chopped garlic flakes
cooked rice - half cup
salt and pepper - to taste.
1. Heat oil in a pan add cumin seeds, chives, chopped garlic and stir well.
2. Add clean washed moringa flowers and tender moringa leaves and again stir fry for a minute.
3. Beat the egg with little salt and pepper.
4. Add the beaten egg to the stir fried moringa flower mix.
5. Add hot rice and mix well.
Serve Immediately. Enjoy!
Look at the original recipe here.
Katie (9th from right) and Meghan (4th from right) with their group on their second day during the Moringa harvest
Diary of 2 Overland summer campers...
The first day
"Driving up the driveway with 12 other kids we had just met was a little unarming considering the fact that we were about to spend a week working on a tropical farm with them. But as soon as we arrived to Ridge To Reef Farm, the staff welcomed us with big smiles and open arms. They were so excited that we were going to be helping them out on their farm. Moseying up to the community center, we were all extremely tired from the plane rides we had taken earlier, and they welcomed us with a warm and delicious dinner.
After sleeping the first night in our cabanas, we woke up ready to work, and after a delicious breakfast of pancakes with banana spread, we were definitely put to work. We were shown how to rake the mulch off of a field in order to place it in the garden that they were building at the top of the hill.
At first, we were taken back by the size of the field and the hot Caribbean sun, but after a few minutes the great company and the support of the staff made the job so much more enjoyable.
After lunch we went with Shelli, one of the staff members at the farm, and learned to camouflage ourselves so that we could blend into the surrounding rainforest. Finally we ended our activities by jumping in the near-by lake and swimming for hours.
By the end of the day, we were full of new information, fresh memories, good food, and had experienced many new adventures on the farm.
~ Katie Van Duyne from Washington and Meghan O'Hara from New York
From the field...
The current drought period already lasting a couple of weeks and a leak in our water system has not left the farm untouched. The cucumbers planted for the CSA dried out. And in fact all plants and vegetables are affected. Growth is slowing down. Fortunately we were able to find the leak and we fixed it right away. However, the need for rain still remains.
Last week cucumbers and Asian Greens were replanted in the trellises and weeded the beds. Additionally bush beans and sunflowers in Ellen's patch have been planted. Our crew also transplanted Kale and Lettuce into the Gaia triangle.
Moreover, we just got a donation of a rooster! Some kids found him after he was attacked by a Mongoose. He is well recovering at the moment to then return with full strength and claim his position as a protector and chief of our chicken coop.
~ 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
Samuel Wise, the dream of all farm managers. One of the first statements I heard was: "I just want to be out in the fields. It's what I like to do. There's not much more that I need". And so he rocks the fields of Ridge to Reef Farm. We're more than happy that he joined the team!
The Week's Harvest
Mustard Greens or Tatsoi
Okra or beans or turnips
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).