Art, Earth Day, and The Return of the Goat Cheese 10am – 12 noon

Overall, the tomato plants are slowing down as the weather gets slightly hotter, but we still have tons to pick and for you to enjoy!

Overall, the tomato plants are slowing down as the weather gets slightly hotter, but we still have tons to pick and for you to enjoy!

Our sunflowers are getting ridiculously tall! They seem to love our soil. We field tested some cut sunflowers this week in a jar of water and they lasted at least six days with no added care. If you change the water more regularly and add a couple of tablespoons each of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and baking soda to the water, they should go even longer!

Our sunflowers are getting ridiculously tall! They seem to love our soil. We field tested some cut sunflowers this week in a jar of water and they lasted at least six days with no added care. If you change the water more regularly and add a couple of tablespoons each of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and baking soda to the water, they should go even longer!

Can you find the melons in the melon patch? Lots of exciting varieties, soon come!

Can you find the melons in the melon patch? Lots of exciting varieties, soon come!

The arts are very busy this weekend with the VI Lit Fest partying hard at UVI and CMCArts, and various art exhibitions including a mix of student and professional work at the Good Hope Country Day School. Get out and enjoy some culture, or stay in and practice your own creativity!

Yesterday’s full moon coincided with Earth Day. We hope that more and more people will join communities like ours of small farmers and their dedicated customers, to practice Earth Day consciousness and conservation around the calendar all year long.

Fiddlewood Farms goat cheese is back today! Pairs perfectly with any and all of the following items: Sweet salad mix, baby arugula, baby spicy salad mix, lettuce heads; onions, radishes, pumpkin, sweet potato, green, red, and orange bell peppers; seasoning peppers, both types of hot peppers, a few cucumbers, a few bunches of kale, bunched arugula, parsley, Italian basil, chives, rosemary, lemongrass, ginger root, papaya, passionfruit, cherry tomatoes, medium heirloom and red tomatoes, recao, farm fresh eggs from ARTfarm and from Heather’s hens; and more of Dr. Bradford’s unbelievably fresh, delicate goat cheese.

Aaaand…Decorate your table or make a lovely gift of fresh cut zinnias and sunflowers.

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Wednesday ARTfarm 3-6pm

We love it when groups of students come out to tour the farm! They ask the best questions and bring us youthful energy. We had a nice visit from St. Croix Montessori’s upper and lower elementary kids last week. The big discoveries? “Worm poop is soil.” “Bells help keep dogs away from sheep.” “There are different kinds of hoes.” “Neem trees grow fast.”

Wednesday’s haul: Sweet salad mix, baby arugula, baby spicy salad mix;

Cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, the last harvest of sweet corn for the season, onions, yellow summer squash, kale, bell peppers, yellow seasoning peppers, radishes, a few cucumbers, squash blossoms;

These dramatically large squash blossoms can be stuffed, fried, or used as a garnish!

 

Italian basil, lemon basil, holy basil, Thai basil, red serrano peppers and red Indian chilies, garlic chives, cilantro, dill, parsley, assorted pumpkins, and cut flowers including loads of zinnias, cosmos and China asters!

From our partners we plan to offer fresh local goat cheese, vegan local fruit ice cream, raw local honey, farm fresh local eggs, and a few other treats!

ARTfarm Open, Ag Fair Weekend: Sat. 10 AM to 12 noon

We will be open at our usual location on the farm this morning. But, we strongly urge you to also visit the Ag Fair this weekend! Happy President’s Day, and Happy Valentine’s Day, folks!

These flowers are YUGE. Some orange like The Donald! Wage a campaign of love this weekend!

We grew it for you, stop by and pick up: Sweet salad mix, loads of cherry tomatoes, slicing tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, lettuce heads, a few yellow and green squash, carrots, radishes, a few bunches of kale, loads of pumpkin, beautiful onions, scallions, a few leeks, a few cucumbers, beautiful green and red bell peppers;

ARTfarm pumpkin…at the peak of flavor right now, these are crazy sweet steamed or roasted, or even sliced thin raw!


Trinidad seasoning peppers are incredibly pungent and smoky like a hot pepper, but with none of the heat. We like to chop them coarsely into all kinds of dishes to give them a specific ‘Caribbean’ aromatic profile. They must be tasted to be believed, and once you’re hooked you’ll always look for these little gems! If you’re not a big fan of spicy food, these are a great way to get a pungent peppery flavor without the pain!

Red serranos and Indian chilies, Trinidad Perfume seasoning peppers, baby ginger root, cilantro, dill, Italian basil, lemon basil, holy basil, loads of fresh cut zinnia flowers, yellow marigolds, and a few bags of figs.

From our partners we have locally made treats: vegan ice cream, raw honey, and goat cheese!

11:09AM update: Still have loads of stuff left! Lots of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, cooking greens, herbs, peppers, honey, ice creams, pumpkin… Come on by!

Don’t miss the 45th annual St. Croix AgriFest this weekend, on the grounds of the Department of Agriculture on Queen Mary Highway just west of UVI’s campus. Open 9-6 Saturday, Sunday and Monday. $6 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children. A good portion of the island shuts down for several weeks to prepare for this major public event: Tons of exhibitors, from farmers competing for best display with great piles of fruits and vegetables, value-added goods and fruit trees; to great local cooks selling plates of food, hot sauces, drinks and spices from this and other islands; Armstrong’s ice cream truck with special local flavors made just for the fair; to vendors of art, jewelry, clothing and local crafts with great bargains; to elementary student science projects, alternative energy providers and University scientists showing a glimpse of the future; to animal judging exhibits and petting zoos with chicks and puppies and baby animals for sale; to carnival and pony rides for the kids and live music and dance performances! The old time history house is a wonderful favorite. People watching as you ride the tractor-pulled trolley tour, stroll through the throngs or sit at a picnic table with your plate of local food, quelbe music wafting through the air, is a must! This is a local annual event that uniquely expresses our island culture that is not to be missed!

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Happy President’s Day Weekend!

Although ARTfarm will not have a booth this year, we will have lettuce heads, onions and serrano peppers on display at Sejah Farm’s booth inside the large tractor barn on the west end of the fairgrounds.

We’ll see you there!!

Farm ON!! reOPEN today, Saturday Dec. 12, 10AM – 12 noon!

The ARTfarm is back after our ridiculously long “summer break.” (If mangoes are out of season, why not us?) We have some green goodness for you! THANK YOU for waiting…

Early Saturday morning...

Early Saturday morning…

We’ve got beautiful sweet green zucchinis and round yellow summer squashes! Big beautiful bunches of tender, dark green Ethiopian kale plus two other kinds of kale. Dandelion greens. We’ve also got wild gherkins – these are pasture cucumbers, spiny but delicious as a quick (or slower) pickle. Quick pickle recipe below.

Salads are back! Come early and dig into the farmstand coolers: we’ll have sweet salad mix, baby spicy mix, baby arugula, and green oak leaf lettuce heads.

Early birds may spot one or two pints of our yellow super sweet cherry tomatoes, passionfruits, and fresh figs. (Late birds will still get Ethiopian kale and zucchini!)

Freshly early-this-morning-harvested herbs: thyme, Thai basil, Italian basil, holy basil, lemongrass, garlic chives, recao. Some green (red hot) chili peppers.

Say hi to Santa at the Christmas Boat Parade tonight, and tell him we’ve been really really good at the ARTfarm and we want a pony. No, make that lots and lots more rain.

Wild pasture cucumbers: salty, crunchy, earthy. A bit spiny to the touch - just rub the little points off with a dishcloth when rinsing!

Wild pasture cucumbers: salty, crunchy, earthy. A bit spiny to the touch – just rub the little points off with a dishcloth when rinsing!

Farmer Luca’s Wild & Quick Pickle Recipe*

Eating these weedy little cucumbers is a bit like those early childhood experiments where you’d find something outdoors and decide to “make a snack”. Sometimes when we are working in the pastures and run out of water to drink, these juicy little bite-sized cucurbits are just the thing! Nature’s little oasis. This quick pickle is delicious served as a crunchy little side anywhere you’d want a bit of relish.

3 c. tiny wild pasture cucumbers, cut in half
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon unrefined sugar (muscovado or coconut sugar)
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/8 c. chopped fresh herbs; tarragon, or whatever is handy, to taste

Briefly dry roast the cumin seed in a saucepan. Add the liquids, sugar and salt and bring to a simmer.

Toss the cucumbers, onion and fresh herbs in a bowl and pack loosely into canning jars.

Pour hot liquid over chopped cucumber mixture to cover. Allow it to sit until just warm, then cover. Eat as soon as cool and/or refrigerate.

Will settle in flavor and taste even better the next day.

*This is a rough, down and dirty farmer recipe, the percentage of all ingredients can be increased or decreased to taste

Closed for 2015 Summer/Fall Break

Greetings from the farm!

Apologies for the short notice: As we usually do, we are going to take a few weeks at this slowed-down time of the year to do some maintenance work, some reflecting, catching up on projects, and taking a little time for ourselves. So at the risk of seeming a bit abrupt, we are letting you know that we will not be open this morning, Saturday, August 22nd. We will probably reopen in mid to late October, depending on whether or not it rains and for enough duration to help our soil recover from this extensive drought.

Two kids hang out in a grass hut they made from dead coconut trees, victims of the drought.

Making lemonade from lemons. Here’s something fun to do with dead coconut trees: build a shady little fort to hang out in!

Speaking of the drought, we may be on the road to recovery after this weekend with a visit from tropical storm/depression/hurricane Danny, and hopefully with a few more precipative events in his wake. Keep in mind that for us and many other livestock and crops farmers, it will take time after rains arrive for our farms to recover. It is not going to be an instantaneous recovery once water hits the soil. Many pastures taxed by lack of rainfall and extended grazing periods will have to be reseeded. The balance of beneficial organisms in the soil has been altered by months of dry, punishing heat and wind. There is going to be a long road back to good soil, sward and plant health, after not having any substantial rain since February.

Big shout out and thanks to Sejah Farm, who collected donations from the public for drought relief and used the money to purchase hay, grain and milk replacer and distributed it among their production partners. We received two pickup truckloads of baled hay for our sheep. Thanks to everyone who donated. JCC, you should be sleeping well at night! Special thanks for your support for our island farmers.


 

ARTfarm Saturday Stand 10am

A similar lineup to last week, with a slight mango alteration: Sweet salad mix, garlic chives, mint. From our partners: Haitian Kidney mangoes (and a few Nam Doc Mai mangoes) from Alex at Tropical Exotics, and vegan ice cream from I-Sha in summer flavors: passionfruit, breadfruit, jojo and banana. Open on the South Shore Road, 10am – 12 noon. We literally have less than a dozen bags of sweet mix to sell tomorrow morning, so if you arrive later you may only be able to pick up some mangoes, herbs and ice cream.

Farmer Luca has not quite made a final decision, but we may close down early for our summer/fall break.

We did get around half an inch of rain over this past week. Consistent winds have caused most of the moisture to evaporate quickly from the soil and plants, unfortunately. Much more will be needed to affect any kind of drought recovery, but we are grateful for and celebrating every drop that falls!

A photo taken in bright sunlight shows a barren landscape of dry soil and dead trees at the edge of a gully. The scattered skeleton of a deer rests in the foreground.

Pastures at ARTfarm, Summer 2015. Extreme drought conditions, including brushfires, have caused a shortage of pasture forage that has negatively affected both domestic and wild creatures. Normally this riparian area of gut bank would be lush with guinea grass, various types of palatable broadleaf weeds, flowering shrubs and trees, and leguminous vines to provide an extensive and diverse diet plus shade and cover for birds, reptiles and wild mammals. Here you see barren soil and the bleached bones of a deer in their stead. While this is generally a dry period of the year, this amount of bare soil and the die-off of so many trees is highly unusual.

Many farmers in the Virgin Islands, particular those who are primarily livestock producers, are really suffering right now. The local and federal government agricultural agencies are working hard to find some drought relief sources for all of us but it may take some time (one timetable we heard about said not until December 2015). Some ideas for helping are in the works, and we will let you know if we hear of a secure and reliable way for the public to donate or otherwise contribute to help bring in emergency grain and hay to keep our island flocks and herds alive. If you have a contact working in the shipping/cargo business, or know of any stateside hay producers willing to donate or discount their hay, please pass their contact information on to us or to Dr. Bradford, Director of Veterinary Services at the VI Department of Agriculture. Also helpful in receiving help would be a fiduciary to collect and hold donated funds and a secure central distribution point for trailers of hay and feed.

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!

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