Farm Status Update

Hey ARTfarm friends,

We are compiling some photos and information about the damage that we have sustained from Hurricane Maria. Connectivity is still an issue and I’ve been having a lot of trouble getting photos to upload. Hopefully we’ll get to a hotspot sometime this weekend so you can get a better picture of how things have gone here. 

We are seeding and planting some food, mulching beds, caring for the livestock and continuing farm work as we also demolish buildings and assess damages. For those interested in helping us, we hope to get some estimates on rebuilding our seedling house and repairing some other buildings and put up a fundraising page for donations. We have not yet done this as we are trying to think creatively and proactively about best use practices and with mitigation in mind for future storms. 

Stay tuned!

Advertisements

Happy Little Things & Farm Update

The day before Hurricane Maria, a large swarm of honeybees took up residence underneath a storage box in our tool shed. During the storm, the large wood crate was tipped up at a 45° angle, but the swarm of bees has remained there. They had built new comb, which fell to the ground during the storm, but they are continuing to build comb and invest in this rather exposed spot. This morning I went to check on them and I could smell honey! We are hoping to move them into a dry, protected and comfortable hive box this week.

While there is very little for pollinators to feed on at this point, every time we eat a papaya or sugar apple, or discover a cache of some leftover or windfall fruit, we are leaving the peels or cracked open fruit outside in a tray, and hordes of bees come to collect the sugary juices. You can help bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators survive the aftermath of Hurricane Maria by consistently placing a tray of fruit peels, downed fruit (cracked open) or even a dish of sugar water in a shady spot outside and change it every day or two.

Our farm kid has been excited about nature photography and after the storm spent a good bit of time observing and photographing dazed hummingbirds who were coming to feed on the aloe flowers that were bedraggled but still surviving on the west facing side of our home. She observed at least three kinds of hummingbirds. We also noted that within one day of the storm, a new flower spire had emerged from the aloe plant and was getting ready to bloom.

Our ram who was attacked by feral dogs almost a month ago survived the attack. He still has some visible holes in him but they are pink and healing. We released him from his solitary holding pen and delivered him back to the pasture and his flock social life on Monday afternoon. After enjoying one last hand-fed papaya by the gate, he perked his ears up and quickly made his way back to the ram group like a kid late for recess. His buddies sniffed him thoroughly and welcomed him back with characteristic grunting noises. His gait is miraculously unaffected despite his left shank looking like a cheese grater, and he should make a full recovery.

While we were out in the ram pasture, we saw that manjack and tantan trees are already putting out new buds with tiny leaflets on them.

We were able to enclose our turkeys and shift them on day three and they are gregariously, raucously enjoying a fresh piece of pasture. They have even been laying a few eggs which we are grateful for. We have yet to restore their coop, but they are making do with a pipe between two trees to sleep on.

We are still extremely limited in terms of our ability to use the Internet, and even the phone. We are only able to check and download things once a day at best. Email is spotty. We cannot receive or look at any website links, attachments or photos. We cannot pull up a browser window or “look anything up.” We have to get in a vehicle and drive off the farm to get any kind of phone signal or Internet. Even in a spot where we are getting several bars of signal, Facebook does not load at all and text messages are unreliable, so it’s best to try and text us using the farm phone number on the WhatsApp phone app.

We will be needing layer feed for our poultry ASAP. If anyone on St. Croix knows if S&D Feed (north of Kingshill Post Office) or JayC Feed (near Williams Delight traffic light) are re-opened after Hurricane Maria and stocking vegetarian layer feed, please let us know. You may be able to reach us directly by phone during curfew lift hours, or can reach us every other day or so using the farm cell phone number on the WhatsApp app on a smart phone. Or, if you can possibly just pick up one or two 50 lb. bags of layer feed if you find it available, and drop it to us at the farm, we would be overjoyed! We will leave a large plastic contractor bag by the entrance to the farmstand (where the gate would be for customers to come in), feed bags can be placed in there to stay dry. If by some miracle we receive more feed then we can use, we will be sharing it with Heather at Yellow Door Farm and other poultry farmers in the area. Please leave a note so we know who to thank and repay. A 50 pound bag of layer feed is generally between $18 – $22.

Another simple thing we could use help with is finding out how to do a hard reset on our iPhones. We have heard that this can help the phones to recognize the new cell phone towers that are being installed. Some of our family have Sprint service and others, AT&T. Unfortunately we do not have access to look up how to do the iPhone settings hard reset. We tried what we thought would work (holding down the home and power buttons simultaneously for a long time) and it didn’t do anything. If anyone could send us a WhatsApp message to our number with advice, step-by-step text (no photos please!) instructions of how to hard reset iPhones models 5, 6 and 7 or otherwise get the phones to search for new cel towers, that would be greatly appreciated.

We have a lot of bundles of drip tape and black plastic mulch fabric that were scattered and blown around the farm during the storm. If anyone has some time to stop by and volunteer, even for an hour during curfew lift, we could use some help with cleanup and repair on the farm. Because of biosecurity/plant virus issues, only non-smokers can help with handling farm equipment. Rubber boots or old shoes are helpful. Some of our farm roads are still pretty muddy. Please send a text or call us during curfew lift hours if you think you can come by so we will know to expect you. Thanks.

We have had some kind people off-island offer to help us with shipping in care packages, tools and supplies that we need. It is currently a little complicated getting things to St. Croix. We are not sure when the post office will open again (although we think soon, as the USPS buildings here did not suffer the kind of damage that the post offices in St. Thomas and St. John did). As for ocean freight, while the port is now open for daytime commerce, it’s not clear how soon shipping containers can be distributed to destination warehouses for local pickup, or whether our freight forwarder will be able to set up a pick up point at the shipping pier itself, since containers on semi rig chassis are too tall for most of the low hanging powerlines that are garlanding all of our roadways on the island. As soon as we can get a definitive answer, we will let everyone know where to send stuff.

Curfew hours are only lifted from 12–4 p.m. on St. Croix at this point and the roads are packed during those hours with long lines at all stores. We have been trying to stay off the roads as much as possible. It is also a bit emotionally difficult to drive around, not only because of the congestion and hazards but to see some of the destruction of homes, businesses, stately old trees, and other familiar landmarks where tornadoes ripped through a neighborhood.

Want to give a shout out to the wonderful McPherson family. Christina, Shawn and their son have been a wonderful support to us, both after Hurricane Irma and Maria, stopping by and bringing us back to their house to have a home-cooked meal, do some laundry, take a shower, play some serious Lego and enjoy a few hours away from all of the work we have to do. They even temporarily loaned us a small generator to run a cistern pump. You guys are awesome and amazing! Many, many thanks!!!

Love, ARTfarm

ARTfarm, LLCartfarmllc.com
(340)514-4873

Post-Hurricane Maria

The good news is that all humans at ARTfarm (and other neighbors at Longford and Yellow Door Farm) survived the storm uninjured. 

It is day four. Our own homes at the farm maintained roofs and structural integrity but experienced flooding. We are still assessing damage at the farm, but the most obvious losses include the crucial seedling house, and the ARTbarn which were totally destroyed. There was some damage to the farmstand (still functional). Many of our pasture fences are blown over, damaged and down. A light duty trailer flipped onto a gate. One prize ram and two young ewes died, several chickens were killed (one chicken tractor coop was destroyed) but ALL the turkeys weathered the storm and are wandering around the farm (their enclosure came down and their house cartwheeled into a gut). Countless trees were lost – all leaves are gone from all trees and many snapped at the base or lost large primary limbs at the first fork. At least 40% of trees have major damage or loss including, sadly, our fruit trees. We are unsure about the immediate season’s plan.

We know little about the rest of the island except what we have heard from word of mouth from neighbors on foot or walking several miles around the farm. Until yesterday the roads were all blocked in by downed utility poles. The hurricane took a WNW course across the island, we have heard that the true eye was to the south of St. Croix by about 20 miles. Further west on the island there was more damage. Without Internet or phone communication of any kind, we know little about how the storm affected different parts of the island and neighboring islands, or if there have been any casualties. We have FM radio, and one station appears to be functioning and taking call-ins from local residents. There are long long lines just to get into grocery stores, and people are standing in the hot sun for several hours trying to get necessities. To post this message we had to drive into town during curfew hours to find a Wi-Fi signal. With heavy traffic, this takes a good chunk of the day. There are downed lines everywhere and driving is pretty treacherous.

Military planes continue to fly overhead, helicopters have buzzed us. 

Our immediate needs (which we would be happy to reimburse someone for) include a portable generator with a 220 V outlet to run the farm pump, another portable generator to keep other cold storage going, 4 heavy duty 100ft outdoor rated extension cords, a 14 inch Stihl chainsaw with extra chains and filters, and a Ryobi flashlight, Ryobi portable fans, single charger and two spare batteries of the “one +” 18v LiOn 4Ah Ryobi type. 

We are extremely grateful and blessed for being spared much worse damage. Many homes on St. Croix have lost roofs and although we have not heard of any storm related fatalities many people have lost much.

We will try to post again when we can. Love, ARTfarm

Post-Hurricane Irma – ARTfarm (temporarily) closed: St. Croix USVI Is Open For Business!

Long term crops include ginger and turmeric, which was planted in April. Even when we are closed, farming is a constant.

ARTfarm is on our annual fall hiatus for the next few weeks as we prepare the farm for the upcoming growing season and keep a watchful eye on the weather satellites for more storms that could come our way between now and November. Thanks to all our fantastic customers for your continued support of our family. We plan to reopen the farmstand, growing season permitting, in October/November.

We will post again soon with updated information on donating to relief efforts. While this acute phase is a crucial time, there will be ongoing efforts to recover that will take months if not years. We appreciate the outpouring of love and support from across the islands and globe for our well-being during the storm. 

Please, spread the word that St. Croix is alive and well after Hurricane Irma. Spread the amazing stories of our USVI community coming together selflessly to provide relief efforts. Encourage your friends and family to come and visit St. Croix and take a vacation here. Part of the recovery process is keeping our economy going as we assist St. Thomas and St. John and our other sister islands to get back on their feet as well. St. Croix is open for business! Thank you!

Donating To Hurricane Relief Saturday 

UPDATE 9/9/2017: Yvette Browne at Sejah Farm is coordinating St. Croix farmer/gardener/orchard produce donations. You can drop off farm produce, fresh fruit (nothing too too ripe or that needs refrigeration, of course) etc. She will be packing family sized boxes for the relief boats going over. Feel free to drop in and bring produce between 5 AM and 7 PM, and/or volunteer to help pack boxes, bring them to the docks etc.

Hurricane Irma as it was bearing down on the Virgin Islands and neighboring islands, Wednesday September 6th. St. Croix was mostly spared completely while St. Thomas, St. John, the BVIs and surrounding Leeward Islands suffered Hugo-like or worse devastation.

The ARTfarm Saturday morning farmstand will be CLOSED tomorrow, September 9th. We are planning to donate our available produce or equivalent cash to Hurricane Irma relief efforts, either here on island at one of our community shelters, or via one of the citizen-organized ‘Crucian navy’ ships that have been making relief supply runs to St. Thomas and St. John, where devastation is widespread and communication very limited. Please, get involved. Here’s a couple of ways to help:

DONATE FAMILY ITEMS:

The Holley family are working in contact with Tots on the Rocks, a 1,700+ member family FB group for STT/STJ, to coordinate an effort for babies/ kids clothes/ necessities. They will be accepting donations at SEABORNE HANGER IN C’STED HARBOR this Saturday, starting at 8am.

Family Items of need:

Diapers/Wipes

Onesies

Good condition kids clothes for all ages

Distilled water

Good condition or new toys for all ages

Baby food/Formula/Bottles

Coloring books/ crayons

Bug repellent

Battery fans

Batteries

Mosquito nets 

Hand sanitizer

This is not an attempt to purge to rid of unwanted items. Please consider the condition of the items you want to donate.

They are still working on logistics with Caribbean Sea Adventures and Seaborne Airlines to get the items over there. Please know we need to support our Rock Moms. Anything helps. 

So thankful our families are all safe here in St. Croix and have an incredible community willing to help our sister islands. Now is the time to come together! #virginislandsstrong

DONATE RELIEF SUPPLIES:

Caribbean Sea Adventures has been collecting any and all kinds of relief donations at their Christiansted shop at 59 Kings Wharf between 8am and 5pm daily. They have been sending their tour boats over to our sister islands with supplies. Sarah Ridgway has also set up a go-fund-me account to purchase additional relief supplies and they have raised nearly $60,000 so far in the relief efforts for St. John and St. Thomas. https://www.gofundme.com/irma-relief-for-our-sister-islands

Seaborne Airlines is establishing a charity program: 9-08-17 SEABORNE CARES—RELIEF EFFORTS AND DONATIONS. “To all our customers and community members across the Caribbean, we appreciate all your calls and requests to provide relief to our Caribbean neighbors. Seaborne Airlines is working on reestablishing our operation for the movement of passengers along with monitoring Hurricane Jose for a possible impact on our network in the next few days. 

We are working on activating our Seaborne Cares program to establish relief flights, once authorities grant us permission and we are secure to land. Initial flights will primarily be to assist our employees at our destinations that have lost everything, including their homes. 

Once we have rescued our employees, we will be delivering supplies to US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua, and St. Maarten. We will be collecting supplies of water, canned food, medicines and first aid kits. We will work with appropriate authorities to distribute in the stations affected as our flight loads permit.

We will be accepting donations until September 17 from 10:00 am until 4:00 PM

Collection center USVI (St. Croix): Seaborne Airlines Seaplane Base, 1210 Watergut (Christiansted Harbor at the west end of the boardwalk)

Due to security reasons, we request all donations be brought in good condition boxes —not sealed and ready for inspection.

We thank all for your assistance during this tough times of our Caribbean neighbors. Together we stand strong!”

Post Hurricane Irma

Just a quick note to let everyone know we are all OK at the ARTfarm. Thanks everyone for sending your positive vibes and prayers for our island. Please continue to support folks who suffered much worst damage in St. Thomas, Saint John, and the Leeward Islands. And for those still in the path of this storm as it heads west northwest.

On our hurricane farm wish list would be the loan of a generator for a few days so we can run our pump to water the farm. Two of our generators failed and the backup generator also failed. Also, we are in need of freshly collected dragonfruit pollen for tonight at 8:30. We know that one’s a long shot!

For safekeeping we put our prize turkey hen in one of the storage container trailers Tuesday night as the storm approached, and she laid an egg for us. Today we are on the seventh or eighth truckload so far to remove lots of large debris from trees, but the farm itself has sustained very little damage and only received about an inch of rain. We will post if we can open on Saturday. With Hurricane Jose brushing us on Sunday, we will wait and see. Stay tuned.

Saturday before Irma Farmstand

Hope everyone is prepping for houseguests: Hurricane Irma arrives middle of next week and the rest of the named storm season after she goes. This past Wednesday was our last weekday farmstand for the season, we’ll just be open Saturday mornings 10am–12noon for a few more weeks until we run out of fruit! (Depending on the severity of the incoming weather, this may be the swift end of the fruit season.) Thanks everyone for a fantastic season.

For Saturday morning: Loads of sweet potato, bunched sweet potato greens, the last of our pumpkin, Italian basil, garlic chives, recao, lemongrass, rosemary, papaya, a few dragonfruit, and from our partners we have ripe avocado from Tita and fresh local goat cheese from Fiddlewood Farm!

Everybody stay positive, stay safe and stay dry.

%d bloggers like this: