Know Your Farmer Wednesday – Mongoose: ARTfarm Open 3–6 p.m. Today!

Sly Mongoose, all the dog them know your name,
Oh, yes, sly mongoose, all the dog them know your name.
You went into the mistress’ kitchen,
Take out one of she fattest chicken,
Put it into your waistcoat pocket
Sly mongoose.

Before we get into today’s Farmer Q & A, here’s what we have for offer at the farmstand this afternoon: Sweet mix, spicy mix, bagged young arugula, microgreens, lettuce heads, slicer and heirloom tomatoes, a rainbow of cherry tomatoes, cooking greens, a few herbs, pineapples, lots of fresh Mediterranean figs, passionfruit, and raw local honey.

Q: Are mongooses (mongeese? mongii? mongoose dem? What is the plural of mongoose anyway?) good or bad?

A: On the farm, mongoose are both good and bad.

The mongoose often spotted in the Virgin Islands is a smallish member of the weasel family, commonly seen crossing roadways and investigating roadkill on St. Croix. Introduced from India during the height of the sugarcane production days on St. Croix, they were a failed attempt at integrated pest management to control accidentally introduced European rats in sugarcane fields. Mongoose usually sport a rough and bristly coat of a golden brown color, blending precisely in with drying grasses. Up close, they have reddish, beady eyes, sharp claws, and a mouth of sharp, jagged teeth, and will hiss, growl, scream and spit loudly and ferociously when approached.

The famous Calypso song “Sly Mongoose”, quoted in part above, references their sneaky character. While it’s a bit anthropomorphic to assign an animal has a certain type of “character”, nonetheless the mongoose has a behavioral habit of staying out of sight and keeping to cover. They hunt very stealthily, and often ‘steal’ food, such as eggs from nests or baby birds from cages. The mongoose was partially responsible, it is believed, for the decimation of the native iguana population on St. Croix and the complete extinction of over half a dozen or more native species of birds, lizards and insects in the West Indies. Due to its damaging effects on the ecosystem here, the VI government issued a bounty in the 1930s of 15 to 25 cents per head for mongoose.

While the mongoose has become somewhat of a “mascot” or icon of the Virgin Islands, it is an invasive exotic that has, due to its predatory efficiency, reduced the biodiversity of the natural flora and fauna of the Virgin Islands. Perhaps the same could be said of many of the human population in the Virgin Islands, as well, with our development and fast cars. So de pot call de kettle black!

We’ll start with the good: we believe that mongoose do predate on (hunt and kill) some animals that are harmful to our farm crops. These include green iguanas, grasshoppers, and rats. They also eat the occasional cane toad or “crapeau”, and other amphibians, which can sometimes be damaging to young plants. Mongoose tend to live in brush piles and in lumber piles, common around the farm, and they hunt throughout the day. They are not often found in trees and roofs like rats, but are able to climb in small shrubs, and like little badgers, are extremely ferocious when cornered. Mongoose are diurnal animals, meaning that they sleep at night. This is in part why they were not the ideal predator control for sugarcane field rats and mice, which are primarily nocturnal, or active at night. But, if a mongoose comes across a rodent nest, they will help to control that population.

What’s the downside to the mongoose on the farm? They do steal chicken, turkey, guinea bird, and wild bird eggs, will kill young wild birds and young poultry, and will even attack day-old lambs in the pasture. But perhaps most inconvenient of all, Farmer Luca recently made the unpleasant discovery that they are not solely carnivores. In fact, mongoose enjoy papayas, fresh Mediterranean figs at their height of ripeness, and other high-value fruit crops.

Overall, the mongoose is a nuisance for a farmer, but helps to control other introduced nuisances. So he gets a pass for the most part.

More on mongooses from VInow.com and SeeStJohn.com!

 

ARTfarm open, 10 AM – 12 noon! Pineapples, Easter lamb!

ARTfarm Saturday, open for the holiday! From 10 AM this morning: Sweet salad mix, arugula, microgreens, spicy salad mix, lettuce heads, cherry tomatoes, slicer and heirloom tomatoes, large bunches of arugula, large bunches of spicy greens, sweet potato greens, kale, collards, dandelion greens, carrots, onions, beans, cucumbers, scallions, ginger, Italian basil, holy basil, lemon basil, type basil, cilantro, dill, recao, thyme, mint, epazote, rosemary, passionfruit, figs, pineapples, 100% grass fed, pasture raised lamb, raw local honey, and breads from Tess.

Happy Easter!20140419-093231.jpg

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ARTfarm Wednesday, 3–6 p.m. today!

ARTfarm_figatfarmstandSometimes, we run out of art for Art Wednesday, so we just tell you about figs. If anyone tried our figs at the Taste of St. Croix, they will be shocked to know that they are EVEN TASTIER NOW! Because the weather has been dry, the fruits have higher sugar content and are absolutely sweet. Treat yourself to some delicious organically grown figs today at the stand! 3–6 this afternoon on South Shore Rd.

Things are getting fruitier as the summer beckons from the wings. Other treats we have in store for you today: Sweet salad mix, teen spicy salad mix, teen arugula, lettuce heads, onions, carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, garlic chives, Italian basil, holy basil, lemon basil, dill, kale, collard greens, broccoli greens, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, lots of aforementioned fresh Mediterranean figs, maybe pineapple, yellow passionfruit, raw local honey, and citrus: sour oranges and kafir limes. Hope to see you this afternoon!

ARTfarm Monday Afternoon, 3–6 p.m. Today!

Hey people! Come on down to the South Shore this afternoon for healthy food from our farm. The bounty continues: sweet salad mix, spicy salad mix, microgreens, teen arugula, cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, carrots, cooking greens, lettuce heads, basil, recao, passionfruit, figs, and local honey. 20140414-140730.jpg

ARTfarm Abundant Saturday today, 10a.m. – 12 noon on the South Shore

We have an outrageous selection of stuff for you this morning because of the rain!! Come out and fill your fridge with healing, cleansing, organically grown local food – to make up for your wild ‘Taste of St. Croix’ week of indulgence!

Check this out: Sweet salad mix, spicy salad mix, baby arugula, big arugula, microgreens, lettuce heads, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, carrots, onions, fennel, one bunch of beautiful baby asparagus.

Lots and lots of kale, collards, broccoli greens, radicchio/escarole, sweet potato greens, bunched arugula, red mustard greens, dandelion greens!

Spice up your life: chili peppers, lots of cilantro, recao, Italian basil, holy basil, lemon basil, Thai basil, garlic chives, sage, thyme, rosemary, mint, fresh ginger root!

Sweet treats: passionfruit, bananas, fresh Mediterranean figs, fresh-cut zinnia flowers, artisanal bread from Tess, fresh local eggs from Marti Gotts’ chickens, and raw local honey! 20140412-075805.jpg

ARTfarm Art Wednesday, 3–6 p.m.:

ARTfarm is open today, 3–6 p.m. on the South Shore with the following ‘tastes’ for St. Croix: Sweet salad mix, spicy salad mix, baby spicy salad mix, baby arugula, microgreens, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, ACTUAL baby carrots, beans, lots of kale, sweet potato greens, red mustard greens, onions, chili peppers, parsley, cilantro, Italian basil, holy basil, lemon basil, garlic chives, sage, cilantro, passionfruit, and raw local honey.

Here is your art for Art Wednesday, a small watercolor study that Luca did prior to the creation of this year’s Taste of St. Croix poster: 20140409-141254.jpg

ARTfarm Monday Q and A. Open 3–6 p.m. Today!

Q: Do you still have tomatoes?

A: Yes. We have more tomatoes at this time this year, then we did last year. It has been a good year for tomatoes for ARTfarm.

Monday’s farmstand, 3-6pm this afternoon: cherry tomatoes, slicer tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, sweet salad mix, baby spicy salad mix, teen arugula, microgreens, fresh ginger root, thyme, chili peppers, purple long beans, radicchio, cooking greens.
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