Sharing the Bounty
VERONICA ALWAYS BRINGS HER OWN CLAY POT to Bush Chef, which she sets over her "three stone" and pushes in the logs as they turn from red hot to white ash in the center. She cooks in homemade coconut milk instead of water, with a mix of farm vegetables, roots, wild plants, and herbs to make a masterful vegetarian ital. All the while she smiles and tells stories, and listens to others' as well as she tells her own.
She has already taken us across the farm's property and told us the uses of many plants. Even the weeds have uses. In less than a quarter mile, we saw about every cure needed to open a health clinic, a grocery store, and pharmacy. Now we are all taking in the aroma of her cooking, along with the other participants in the 2012 Bush Chef.
Chef Theo Gumbs was another featured chef who showed he was no slouch in the bush at all. Working over the fire and with his team of helpers, he offered up brilliant displays of farm food and mahi, combined with his brand of seasonings and lemongrass oil. My favorite, which went VERY fast, was the bamboo pressure cooked mahi with our farm's coconut, thyme, rosemary, and hot pepper, combined with his pan sear seasoning.
Other highlights were a below-ground steam-pit cooker with veggie wraps, a pumpkin soup boiled in it's own shell with hot rocks, and the biggest sneaker hit of them all -BBG mongoose. That's right. Free-range chicken-egg-fed organic local mongoose. Thank you Chris Fletcher for the daring dish, which was undeniably incredible to the few of us who tried it. Believe it or not, even one vegetarian crossed over not to miss the rare opportunity. The crossover was NOT Veronica! No worries, you won't be getting any mongoose in your bags any time soon. But you will get eggs. Put it on your calendar for next year, Bush Chef is the first weekend in March!
The farm is now bursting with food, so please enjoy the greater than usual harvest you are getting this week. By working with chefs, farmers, conscious eateries like Barefoot Buddha and Polly's at the Pier, we can succeed in the goal of making organic local food a part of everyday life in the USVI for those who want it.
CSA SEASON 2 DATES AND REGISTRATION !!
The summer season will start on May 30th and run for another 3 months. We are adding 15 spots to the CSA, but they should go fast with our deep waiting list.
-CSA members have first option to partake in the summer season.
-Registration will be open this week on Sunday April 15 and all members will have one week to sign up before the registration is open to non-members.
-The contents of the CSA will be similar to the winter, although some varieties will be changed and fruit will be added, like grafted mangoes, & passion fruit.
April 21 - Virgin Gourmet Premier Release Party & concert. The television series presents its first syndicated show that will air on TEMPO, featuring the star Chef Theo Gumbs & R2R Farm. Advance tickets $35 at Riddims, Starfish, and Polly's at the Pier.
April 28 - Pig Roast and acoustic music with Big Guns Rock at R2R Farm. Local food and music combine again for a seasonal outdoor feast, with local food sourced from the farm and other producers from St. Croix.
May 25-38 - Organic Yoga Retreat - Yoga and Slow Food combined. CSA members including Yogi Marshan Sam and community organizer Sarah Haynes bring you our first ever Yoga retreat on the peaceful farm.
And don't forget, there is a standing invitation for you to take a farm stay and/or volunteer with us. Come out and visit YOUR farm.
Heirloom Green Tomatoes at Ridge to Reef Farm
WTF (What's That Food)?
Heirloom GREEN Tomatoes
Green tomatoes, (Solanum lycopersicum) are not the strangest thing in the world, but here a lot about tomatoes that most people did not know, much less, unripe. Let's start with the basics:
Q: Is a tomato a vegetable or a fruit?
A: Well, as history shows us, it depends on who you ask. For instance, the US Supreme court ruled once they were vegetables. However, to be botanically correct, they are indeed fruits. In fact, they are berries, because one's pericarp (the flesh you eat) is all produced by single ovule per fruiting body. [Ed. note -Proving government knows less about our food than we do]
Q: Tomatoes are European in origin, right?
A: Actually, evidence clearly shows they are from South America, probably peru. They were a mainstay in the Caribbean before they travelled east. So, one might say, they were more Crucian than Italian. However, literature suggests the diversity of heir-loom tomatoes that we offer, such as Cherokee Purple, Brandywine, and German Striped, were bred to greater extent in cooler climates outside of the tropics. As we have seen, organic tomatoes are loved by ALL, including birds, viruses, and thieves. Hence the Crucian farmer saying I've heard more than once, "Ya go always plant tree! One fa' you, one fa da worm, an' one mo fa da tief!"
Q: Are Green Tomatoes poisonious?
A: We suggest not to eat them raw when green, unless pickled. However, there is little evidence that they would do anything bad to you. In fact, some research on animals (unfortunate, yet revealing) showed that the active of 2 present glycoalkoloids, tomatine, was not absorbed by the animals. In fact, they had the curious effect of removing bad cholesterol from the bloodstream. I don't know if that would counterbalance the effects of frying them! Cooking with them is safe and very common across the southern US, so please check out one the recipes.
On a final note, the imported tomatoes in markets are usually harvested green and then gassed to induce artificial ripening. That is why imports taste, as one customer put it, "like cardboard." Michael Pollan called the genetically modified tomatoes "a notion of a tomato." Our REAL, green tomatoes are to be used as green tomatoes. They will not ripen off the vine. But soon, they will be ripening ON the vine, especially that we have (most of) our BIRD NETS up! So, we are giving you a product that priceless -you can't buy what we have to share it in any import store in the USVI. We hope you will savor them as we do, green and ripe.
How to use it: Fried, baked, pickled, souped, relished -there is along list so here are 21 green tomato recipes.
Shelli teaches her ancestral food skills, like coconut oil making, at Ridge to Reef Farm
Meet the Farmer...
Shelli Brin-Olive, Tourism & hospitality, farm co-owner
Shelli Brin-Olive has found her passion in more ways than one at Ridge to Reef Farm. A third generation "Frenchie" from Hull Bay, Shelli takes full advantage of the opportuity to explore, live out, and share her agricultural heritage as a native Virgin Islander.
As the farm's Tourism & Hospitality manager, Shelli is often that bright smiling face that visitors first see when they come for a tour, farm stay, or educational program. Housing our staff and visitors is quite a task, and in between her compelling presentations she is often seen trucking around the farm, tending to the needs of those who visit her farm -a truly dedicated hostess!
Her Grandfather instilled a contagious good-nature in her father, and was often already making his way over the spine of St. Thomas with his donkey cart loaded with produce by the time the morning horn would blow from arriving cruise ships. He also instilled dedication to his crops, exemplified by his habit of sleeping with his mattress on top of harvested pumpkins to keep them safe from critters.
Today, using her B.A. in tourism, Shelli speaks passionately about nature and agriculture and how people can help preserve the unique qualities of her home islands while improving their own health. But perhaps most of all, she likes to laugh and have fun, enjoying the fruits of her childhood and remembering one of most important lessons -to share. A lot!
Shelli also makes her own line of bamboo earrings, candle holders, and more. Many of these are now on display at the Ridge to Reef Community Center. She also offers taste tours for groups of all sizes, including cruise ship visitors, groups visiting St. Croix, and locals wanting to reconnect with nature and agriculture.
Thank you Shelli for all the hard work you put in for the honor of yesterday, benefit of today, and promise for tomorrow!
From the Fields
Recent rains again have saturated the soil and resulted in a grass explosion, keeping the valley lush and us on the weedwacker, mower, hoes, and hand pulling plants in the place (AKA weeds). The good part is all of our plantings have been taking off, as you can see in the huge lettuce heads this week and the tomatoes, which look ready to burst into ripeness.
We are also seeing the first passion fruit of the season dropping from the forest canopy. We have planted so many more this season, it should be an amazing passion fruit season. We have three varieties varying in sour and sweetness. Some perfectly yellow, others splattered with purple and red hues.
The mongoose have been on full attack, and at a time where our only trap was run over by a car. Our chickens are defending themselves well, but we are losing around 20 eggs, or 15% of our optimal daily production. We should have our new cages in soon, until then we have fortified our movable chicken tractors although the mongoose are very hard to keep out. The eggs are precious!
We re really excited about all the plantings for our next CSA season starting May 30th, expanding our plantings every day! I mowed around some old sugar cane plantings, which we are planning on expanding for more consistent sugar production.
"Working" in this valley is an amazing experience! It's hard work, but as they say, if you do what you love, you never have to work a day in your life.
PO Box 2903 - Frederiksted USVI 00841 - www.visfi.org - email@example.com - 340 220 0466
Ridge to Reef Farm @ the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute
INTER-ISLAND CHEFS AND FARMERS UNITE Shelli,Veronica, Basil, Earth, Brian, Yoki, Jacob, Theo, and Emily. See it all on Facebook
The Week's Harvest
Heirloom Green Tomatoes
Southern Fried Green Tomatoes
-Erin's Award Winning 2006 Bush Chef Recipe
1-2 Sliced Heirloom Green Tomatoes
3/4 cup Buttermilk
Corn Meal (look for non-gmo)
1/4 cup Flour
Salt & pepper to taste
Other dried & cropped seasonings
Vegetable oil, deep or light fry
Basically its a mixture of corn meal and flour or panko (a little more corn meal than flour), salt, pepper, whatever fresh herbs you have.
Dip seasoned tomato slice in buttermilk (if you have, much better than milk...add a little hot sauce in there if you want), then dip in cornmeal/flour or panko mixture, then set on a rack until you fry in vegetable oil.
Also good if you dip in cornmeal mixture, then buttermilk, then cornmeal again. after you fry them, set them in a warm oven until you serve.
The aioli we made was a mixture of stuff that we kept adding to until we liked it....but basically its just mayo with a bunch of herbs.....yummy!!
Preparation time: 20 min.
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).