• Farmer/Artists

    Local artists Luca & Christina Gasperi run ARTfarm, a small local vegetable farm and art gallery. Together with a small staff we grow a variety of salad greens, heirloom tomatoes, herbs, veggies, and tropical fruits. We welcome volunteers who want to learn about our organic growing methods.
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ARTfarm Saturday – We’ve Got a Licker

Almost as if by sleight-of-hand: Sweet salad mix, a few dragonfruit, garlic chives, mint, lemongrass. From our partners: Nam Doc Mai mangoes from Alex at Tropical Exotics, and vegan ice cream from I-Sha in summer flavors: passionfruit, mango, jojo and banana, papaya-ginger. Open on the South Shore Road, 10am – 12 noon.

The severe drought continues. Many of the trees we have planted on the farm are dying off. Grazed pastures are not renewing themselves. After being blessed with rain for the last few years it is hard for many farmers on St. Croix to see our long term efforts of stewardship being stressed to the breaking point by this unusually harsh weather. Even as we see visible signs of the drought, there are many more organisms suffering than meet the naked eye.

Water, water, anywhere? A tiny anole lizard licks moisture off of a dragonfruit bud in the dry pasture.

Water, water, anywhere? Look closely to see what Farmer Luca saw: A tiny anole lizard licking moisture off of an irrigated dragonfruit bud in the dry pasture.

Despite the lack of green grass, bugs and other forage, our two surviving heritage-breed turkeys managed to breed this summer. We took a set of ten eggs for the incubator when Mrs. Brownie started to lay, and she took it upon herself to lay another set after that and brooded it. Turkeys are said to have a low hatch rate. The incubator hatched four poults, but the mother turkey hatched nine out of ten! Man cannot improve on nature’s efficiencies, it seems.

A brown turkey hen looks on as nine fluffy baby poults clamber around her in a wire mesh cage.

Mrs. Brownie, who survived the dog attack this past fall, has produced nine poults this summer after 28 patient days on the nestbox. She and her babies are well protected at this bite-sized stage in a coop built to keep rats and mongoose out. Predator pressure is particularly intense during drought times as wildlife and feral animals are more desperate for food and water.

A large grey tom turkey displays his feathers walking along the edges of his pen. The farm and hills beyond are dry and brown.

Proud papa turkey, the only survivor of the stray dog attack last fall, keeps careful watch over his new family. You can see recent brushfire damage on the hills behind him.

ARTfarm Summer Saturday – Get In Lion!

10 AM – 12 noon today: Sweet salad mix, garlic chives, recao, mint, Ethiopian kale, passionfruit. From our partners we have beautiful dragonfruit from Solitude Farm, Nam Doc Mai mangoes from Tropical Exotics, and vegan coconut ice cream from I-Sha.

The children of the 2015 STARs camp did a beautiful job last night with their production of the Lion King Jr. at the James Savage theater at the old Good Hope west campus. These talented youngsters have worked hard over the last four weeks to prepare, audition, and star in this musically expanded adaptation of the 1994 Disney movie, based loosely on the plot of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. With over 70 costumes custom-made for the children and South African choir music, it is truly a beautiful production. Tonight is the final performance, curtain at 8 PM but you should get there at 7:15pm to avoid the lines and get a great seat!

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Victory at Mango Melee! Dragonfruit and Salad Today, 10 AM – 12 noon

Our neighbor Lisa Spery once again was victorious with ARTfarm ingredients at the Mango Melee’ Mango Dis, Mango Dat competition on Sunday. Photos and recipe to come in next week’s post!

This morning, Luca has for you: Sweet salad mix, Ethiopian kale, garlic chives, mint, passionfruit, bananas, and beautiful dragonfruits in two varieties: one pink on the inside and one purple on the inside.

From our partners we have Viequen Butterball mangoes from Tita and local fruit flavored vegan coconut ice cream from I-Sha.

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A Green Patch of Determination

It's July 2015 and there has been no substantial rain for months. This panorama of the center of the farm shows the contrast between irrigated and non-irrigated areas.

It’s July 2015 and there has been no substantial rain for months. This panorama of the center of the farm shows the contrast between irrigated and non-irrigated areas.

The ARTfarm is brown and crunchy at the moment, (and not in the delicious granola type way) but there is a little patch of green that Farmer Luca is diligently watering and protecting from hungry, thirsty deer. In other news from the Department of Symbols Of Hope, three turkey eggs hatched in our incubator yesterday morning! And our mama turkey Ms. Brownie is brooding on a nest of eleven more hope capsules…due next week.

A morning meeting of three freshly hatched turkey poults in the incubator at ARTfarm.

A morning meeting of three freshly hatched turkey poults in the incubator at ARTfarm.

For this morning’s Saturday farmstand, from 10 AM to 12 noon, we have: Lots of sweet salad mix, passionfruit, plenty of mint, lemongrass, garlic chives, tarragon, Cuban oregano, recao, Ethiopian kale, and papayas!
From our partner growers and chefs: we have dragonfruit from Solitude Farms, Viequen Butterball mangoes from Tita, Haitian Kidney mangoes from Denis Nash, and vegan local fruit ice cream from I-Sha.

Don’t forget about the 19th annual Mango Melee on Sunday at the Botanical Garden! You won’t find the Viequen Butterball at Mango Melee, but there are a lot of other fun and delicious things on offer over there (call 340-692-2874 or www.sgvbg.org for more information). Be sure to support our long-time neighbor and loyal customer Lisa Spery as she competes in the Mango Dis, Mango Dat contest with a recipe incorporating fresh ARTfarm mint! Good luck, Lisa!

Tita’s Butterballs, Fresh Salad Greens 10am – 12 noon Today!

Tita's Viequen Butterball mangoes...

Tita’s Viequen Butterball mangoes…

Despite drought conditions, Farmer Luca is still managing to grow sweet salad greens with saved rainwater. C'mon rain!!

Despite drought conditions, Farmer Luca is still managing to grow sweet salad greens with saved rainwater. C’mon rain!!

Delicious local fruit flavors in single-size cups - coconut-based vegan ice cream from I-Sha is made with handmade local coconut cream, brown sugar, spices and local fruits and veggies! We've got spoons to lend at the farmstand, so take a moment and cool off with a little treat!

Delicious local fruit flavors in single-size cups – coconut-based vegan ice cream from I-Sha is made with handmade local coconut cream, brown sugar, spices and local fruits and veggies! We’ve got spoons to lend at the farmstand, so take a moment and cool off with a little treat!

Dragonfruits are a summertime crop for ARTfarm.

Dragonfruits are a summertime crop for ARTfarm.

Saturday, July 4th, 10am – 12 noon: Sweet salad mix, dragonfruit, lots of passionfruit, papaya, mint, garlic chives, and lemongrass. From our partners: we have the hands-down crowd favorite Viequen Butterball mangoes from Tita, weighing a pound and a quarter each on average. We should be getting some other mango varieties from farmer Denis Nash this morning, and of course we’ve got vegan coconut-based local ice cream in a variety of innovative natural fruit flavors from I-Sha.

Stay safe and enjoy this beautiful Emancipation and Independence holiday weekend. Unlock your assumptions and set them free! Last night we attended the open house of local artist LaVaughn Belle’s new studio in Free Gut. Very inspiring!

Monday Brushfire, Saturday Sweet Mix

The color contrast of a Valencia Pride mango, with a gradation of hot pink to a warm yellow, stands out atop a pile of green and orange mangoes.

Valencia Pride mangoes are a “Technicolor sunset” hue.

Saturday, 10am – 12 noon: Sweet salad mix, limited amounts of microgreens, dragonfruit, passionfruit, papaya, mint and lemongrass. From our partners we have a varied selection of top mangoes including Nam Doc Mai, Madame Francis, Valencia Pride and Haitian Kidney from Dennis Nash, Viequen Butterball mangoes from Tita, and vegan coconut ice cream from I-Sha.

 

We heard you could smell it in Frederiksted. Dozens of acres of bull pasture that are part of UVI’s Senepol cattle operation burned early Monday morning, right across the road from ARTfarm. The fire was started by vandals who stripped a stolen pickup truck and then set it on fire halfway up Spring Gut Road’s south side at 3 AM.

Looking north from the road near the ARTfarm entrance, Monday's reignited brushfire is seen here progressing west. Note the blackened hillside east of the smoke.

Looking north from the road near the ARTfarm entrance, Monday’s reignited brushfire is seen here progressing west. Note the blackened hillside east of the smoke.

The blaze quickly spread west across the arid pasture. The VI Fire Service was on the scene by 3:10 AM and managed to extinguish most of the blaze by around 7:30 AM. It reignited soon after and burned all the way to Many Paws Road with flames up to 20′ visible from the South Shore Road, destroying more pasture forage, threatening nearby homes and our neighbor’s sheep pastures. VIFS returned and battled the brushfire again, putting it out again with the assistance of a sudden and very welcomed rain shower that arrived about an hour later.

Can you spot? A fire truck surrounded north and south by blazing pastures? Fire crawling up the hill toward houses? Two Senepol bulls being pushed into the next pasture by UVI cattlemen? A patch of flames much closer to the bulls? At times the grey and yellow smoke was so thick you could not see to move a vehicle.

Can you spot? A fire truck surrounded north and south by blazing pastures? Fire crawling up the hill toward houses? Two Senepol bulls being pushed into the next pasture by UVI cattlemen? A patch of flames much closer to the bulls? At times the grey and yellow smoke was so thick you could not see to move a vehicle.

A clearer image of the firetruck up in the bush. A team of firefighters were working to extinguish the north head of the fire that was moving toward homes up the hill.

A clearer image of the firetruck up in the bush. A team of firefighters were working to extinguish the north head of the fire that was moving toward homes up the hill.

Arriving just behind this 3,000 gallon pumper truck: well-timed backup from Mother Nature. The dark clouds approaching from the east brought a brief but heavy rainshower that helped to extinguish the blazing pastures.

Arriving just behind this 3,000 gallon pumper truck: well-timed backup from Mother Nature. The dark clouds approaching from the east brought a brief but heavy rainshower that helped to extinguish the blazing pastures.

Madame Francis and Butterball Mangoes!

ARTfarm Saturday: 10am – 12 noon. Mangoes like crazy today! Summer solstice arrives on Sunday, hopefully dragging some rain clouds with it for Father’s Day! Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there. From the farm this morning: Small amounts of sweet mix and microgreens, a few pineapples and papayas, lots of passionfruit, fresh mint, Italian basil, garlic chives and lemongrass. Don’t forget the lemongrass – steep in hot water to make a very cooling and slightly sweet, refreshing brew to keep in the fridge!

From our partners: vegan ice cream from I-Sha in a rainbow of flavors, honey from Errol, and lots of beautiful mangoes, including Viequan Butterballs from Tita and Nam Doc Mai and Madame Francis from Dennis Nash. Farmer Luca, a mango connoisseur, claims that the VBs have even less fiber than the buttery  NDMs. Their velvety texture is a triumph of mango husbandry! Enjoy mangoes now, as the drought may possibly make this a historically short mango season.IMG_9559IMG_9561IMG_9560

Still pretty dry out here… We’ve heard some farmers remark that we are in a fifteen-year drought (meaning that it has not been this dry since after Hurricane Hugo – not that it will last fifteen years). Two years ago at this time of year we were able to grow a lot more summer crops. We know it has been an extended campaign, but please keep rain dancing! Your efforts have brought a few decent showers to the farm, but not enough to yet quench the thirst of the rock-hard topsoil. So keep on getting your groove on if you love local food!

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