This judges at Taste of St. Croix had a dish we are sure they will remember for a long time. As they received the dish, in came all the parts: a whole pumpkin opened at the top like a jack-o-lantern, a bamboo tray with coconut shell cups containing fresh ingredients, a bamboo insulator with red-hot stones, tongs, safety glasses, and directions.
Caledonia Stone Soup by Nate & Tahirah Abu-Bakr
1) Put on safety glasses
2) Remove the pumpkin lid (which contained fresh local red snapper broth)
3) Add first 2 coconut cups containing fresh hand-sqeezed coconut milk and sliced kaffir lime, grated ginger and turmeric, and finely chopped lemongrass
4)Add red hot Caledonia stones (just pulled from the fire) from container with tongs into pumpkin until water boils, then cover and let simmer for 3 minutes
5)Remove pumpkin lid, let steam off, then add diced heirloom cherokee purple tomatoes and malabar spinach to finish
6)Serve with ladel into coconut cups, enjoy!
We have to admit, we were surprised and elated to hear our names over the loudspeaker as first place winners, especially with such fine restaurants Savant and Tutto Bene in 2nd and 3rd place in the category! We are sure that with our farm-grown creation the judges really got a true taste of St. Croix!
Thanks to all the help -Jessica, Shelli, Patrick, and Nadja for making this laborious dish a huge success!
SEASON II SIGN UPS UNDERWAY!
We are ready for another season starting May 30th, are you? However, we have had some website issues with the re-registration process. Many of you have been seeing a notice that you have already been enrolled in the CSA. Sorry if you are one of those having issues! Our beloved web geek Simon is on the case!
*Make sure you are not using the upper left hand "mailing and waiting list" sign-up. That is not for you, you are already on that list. Instead, click the radio button and follow the steps provided.
*Go ahead and make your payment, even if you are having problems with the sign-up. Payments are what secures your spot, and we can help you later make sure that you are properly entered in the web system after we have our expert see why there have been so many difficulties. If you make a payment, please let us know via email. After Sunday, we will be releasing remaining spots to the waiting list, and the following week to the general public, so please make sure if you want to stay joined that you do so this week. :)
Ron and Corey gathering coconuts during the Permaculture in 2011.
The following excerpt is from an article written by a volunteer, a former Permaculture student and our friend. He and his buddy have experienced the farm for about 5 months last year. We invite you to enjoy this delightful article and the video taken during a Permaculture class and experience the farm through their eyes.
Home is Wherever Things are Green,
by Ron Valle
I was treading water in the warm and oily pool at the Riviera in Las Vegas, nursing a hangover and a Miller Lite when my friend Corey suggested that we move to his folks’ place in the Virgin Islands. We had just broken out of college, were unemployed, and hadn’t much structure to our foreseeable future. Moving to a small chain of islands I didn’t even know belonged to the United States sounded like a great idea, as most ideas do in Vegas. I doubt I took Corey very seriously that day. But somewhere during the long, dry, sobering drive back to Southern California I committed myself to making this half-baked pool fantasy a reality. And what do you know; I did.
I arrived on St. Croix in mid September, 2011. For the first few days the island was racked by rain storms and Corey and I were forced indoors, reading and watching TV and not doing all the things I pictured myself doing (snorkeling in glassy bays, drinking pink-colored rum drinks on sunlit beaches, dancing with pretty island girls, surfing on sea turtles - all the things you’d picture too). Once the rain had let up, Corey told me he had volunteered us at a local farm.
Now neither of us had any real farm experience and I wasn’t too keen about waking up at 6 a.m. to jump into some potentially very back breaking labor, but we had been cooped up for a very long time, and I was curious as to what an island farm might look like. So we woke up at 6 a.m. and Corey’s uncle Roy took us in his stick-shift truck from our place on the East End to the heart of the rainforest.
After a near two hour drive through morning traffic and getting aggravatingly lost on the precariously pot-holed “roads” of the Cruzan rainforest we finally arrived at the Ridge to Reef Farm. It was one of those days that can only be described as beautiful. The sky was blue, the storm clouds had abated, the ground was moist and springy, and everywhere everything was green. Not just any green though – this is not the green you use to paint the walls of your house or the green which little golf balls bounce across. It was a deep, vital green, and it seemed to shimmer like a jewel as the wind made the tall forest canopy sway and breathe. I was unprepared for this because I had never thought of a farm being, well, vivid and gorgeous and wild! All the farms I’d ever driven past Stateside seemed like landscapes out of the First World War, with their expanses of rigid, entrenched vegetable rows and the mud and dung wastelands that are cattle ranches. Ridge to Reef meets none of these descriptions, so much so that when I show friends and family pictures of the place they ask me, “Enough jungle, where’s the farm?”
It was a Wednesday, so Nate and Shelli set us to work harvesting. (If you have not met Nate and Shelli yet, you will, and you’ll be glad.) I suppose we were technically harvesting, but it felt more like gathering, like our nomadic non-agrarian ancestors who understood the difference between receiving from the earth and taking from it. It turns out that gathering is about as back-breaking as I thought it’d be. For four hours we scampered about, hunching over beds of salad greens, stretching up to the boughs of mango trees, lopping off coconuts, and plucking chaya and dinosaur kale and a great many other things I’d never heard of. But come lunch time we were treated to an incredible meal composed of, yup, everything we’d spent the morning gathering. Sated with good food and good company, we went back and quickly finished gathering what we needed for the day’s orders, and then Roy was there with the truck, and then we were back on the Eastside, and then we were reclining in the warm waters of Miss Bea Beach, letting the good ol’ Caribbean sea bathe and nourish us in ways no casino pool could ever have.
Corey and I returned to Ridge to Reef many times after that and lent our services as often as we could. We would always return home sweaty and beat but proud of whatever small accomplishment we may have made on the farm, be it leaving a bean patch without weeds, having dug a new bed, or having defeated a hostile invasion of cow-itch. The people we met on the farm became our friends and soon we weren’t so much working on the farm as we were hanging out, with machetes in our hands and seeds in our pocket. I guess the long and skinny of it was that I fell in love with the place. Memories of the nights spent amidst the choir of frogs, crickets, and laughter while the fireflies (or are they Jumbies?) waltz through the jungle remain among the fondest in my life. And it makes you stop and wonder, why? Just what exactly about this place inclines one to be so happy? The atmosphere, the delicious food, the pride in having raised that food, the genuine good-nature of all contributing, the funny sounds the chickens make? It is all of these and more, but all of these sprout from the central tenets of the farm – cooperation with the earth that promotes peaceful and healthy lifestyles. It is a farm that does not provide only physical but also spiritual, mental, and emotional nourishment. It promotes good living. How many farms can lay claim to that?
Since returning to California I have taken a job teaching science programs to children in Los Angeles County. I have also been hired to help with the start up of an organic community garden which will provide a living classroom for children to learn about horticulture, permaculture, and the joy of producing your own food. It is my hope that every child who enters that garden will leave with some glimpse into what I witnessed every day on St. Croix. I will return many times in my life to the Ridge to Reef Farm, and when I do I will hear the wind breathing through the canopy, smell the rich soil, see the thriving, emerald sheen of all the living things around me, and feel a deep sensation of having returned to one of my many homes.
VISFI: Plantin' Seeds
by Corey London Clark.
Please watch here or in our facebook group.
Thank You, Corey and Ron!
We cannot repeat it often enough. Please visit us, stroll around, talk to us or stand side by side with our farmers and feel the soil in your own hands. We are also happy to receive comments, pictures, videos and anything you want to share with us.
From the field...
The heat has come, hot and dry, which was causing our farmes to sweat even more while they were planting 700 row feet of corn yesterday. Since the handseeder broke, they used the traditional hand-seeding technique.
Mongoose are continuing to terrorize our chickens and to eat their eggs. The farm crew is on the watchout, though and we are catching about 2 of the mongoose in our only trap daily. this makes mangoose traps our most wanted these days.
Saman trees are flowering and the first ripe mangoes fall from the trees. The goats are energetic and innovative, trying to find a different technique to get to the other side of the fence almost every day.
Our small hummingbird friend in the process area still overlooks our work while breeding its two little eggs.We are excited to see them hatch soon!
~ 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
Voted "Best Local Fare": A successful Taste of St. Croix for R2R Farm
The Week's Harvest
Stir fry bok choy and mizuna
recommended by Ria
- 3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
- 4 teaspoons Asian sesame oil, divided
- 3 1/2 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar, divided
- 1 14-to-16-ounce container extra-firm tofu, drained
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 4 baby bok choy, leaves separated
- 12 cups loosely packed mizuna (about 8 ounces)
1. Whisk 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and 1/2 teaspoon vinegar in bowl.
2. Stack 2 paper towels on work surface. Cut tofu crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices; cut each slice crosswise in half; arrange tofu on paper towels and let stand 10 minutes. Pat top of tofu dry.
3. Heat peanut oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook, without moving until golden brown on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer tofu to paper towel to drain, then place tofu on sheet of foil and brush both sides with soy sauce mixture.
4. Wipe out any peanut oil from skillet. Add 2 teaspoons sesame oil and place skillet over medium heat. Add green onions, ginger, and garlic. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add remaining soy sauce and 3 teaspoons vinegar, then bok choy. Toss until bok choy wilts, 1 to 2 minutes. Add mizuna in 2 batches, tossing to wilt before adding more, 1-2 minutes per batch.
5. Season greens with salt and pepper. Add tofu to skillet. Toss gently to blend. Transfer to platter.
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).