ARTfarm OPEN Saturday! 10 AM – 12 Noon – FREE Hummingbird Feeders

A hummingbird rests on aloe flowers. Post hurricane Maria.

Tiny hummingbirds are important pollinators and you can help them recover from the storm!

Hey folks, we are back! We will be open Saturday morning November 18th 2017 at 10 AM! Lots of fresh crispy goodies for our customers today, plus free hummingbird feeders and bird seed courtesy of St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA) and Birds Caribbean!

Farmer Luca is so excited to see our customers!

Saturday farmstand: lots of cucumbers, lettuce heads, sweet potatoes, loads of thin skinned baby ginger and baby turmeric varieties from Hawaii. Garlic chives, cilantro, dill, parsley, recao, lemongrass, Italian basil, lemon basil and native trees for sale!

Help our island wildlife recover! The free hummingbird feeders from SEA are absolutely beautiful and professional grade. They were donated by Birds Caribbean, a nonprofit wildlife organization, to help maintain our bird populations. (After Hugo, many of these hummingbird and bananaquit populations were precipitously reduced.) The feeders are super sized, with glass reservoirs and a water tray built in on top to prevent ants from invading! They can service many birds at one time. They will come with instructions, a hanging hook and a little bit of wildlife information plus a recipe for making the nectar safely and properly for our wonderful avian pollinators! One feeder per family, please. We also have a specially formulated Caribbean bird seed mix. Bring your own container or bag for bird seed.

You can also sign up to be on SEA’s website email list, and even update your membership with SEA at the farmstand!

We are also updating ARTfarm’s website this evening with our Hurricane Maria story and photos, and a link to our crowdfunding page where you can learn more about helping ARTfarm recover from the CAT5 storm of September 19th. Thanks to all who insisted we fundraise. ❤

Post-storm Growth at ARTfarm – We’re OPEN – Our Maria Story – update

Nature is not waiting for recovery assistance! Ladybugs abound on the watermelon vines.

Hurricane recovery is a long game. It still requires a special trip to town to post to our website, so we apologize for the dearth of news from the ARTfarm.

We have fresh food!! And as of November 18th, 2017 we are now open, a little ahead of schedule, on Saturdays from 10am to 12 noon. Can’t wait to see you!

Many of our awesome customers, neighbors, stateside family and fellow farmers have asked how they can help us with hurricane recovery. Knowing that people support us and want to see us succeed is worth an awful lot to us. Thank you.

We’ve put up a GoFundMe crowdfunding page for anyone who wishes to assist in accelerating ARTfarm’s Hurricane Maria recovery. gofundme.com/artfarmllc  There’s a video on YouTube with the story and more photos of the damage and recovery efforts.

Luca’s beloved seedling house was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Here we are on day one after the cat five storm, putting on our “hurricane smiles.”

Much of our initial recovery effort after securing the livestock was focused on tree and brush removal around our houses and on repairing or demolishing the farm buildings that were damaged or destroyed.

Luca’s dad, Kiko, who turned 80 this year, spent long days cutting up downed limbs and probably ran at least 8-10 loads of brush per day in his pickup truck for weeks and weeks after the hurricane, so that we could easily get around and between the farm and home. Luca’s mom, Valeria, has been our chief cheerleader with her fierce positivity and has been helping with cooking delicious meals as well as providing the long-term perspective on hurricane recovery, having rebuilt the family home after Hugo in 1989.

Many of our mature trees lost major limbs. We lost roughly half of our producing fruit trees.

We are in the somewhat Byzantine process of going through the FEMA and SBA applications and we attended a long-awaited USDA disaster assistance meeting for St. Croix farmers on October 31st. We also applied for a small grant for farmers through FarmAid and received it.

We have some ambivalence about asking for donations. But our friends have urged us to let them help us out. So, we are posting an online crowdfunding campaign to help us spread our losses. We’ll need to purchase goods and services in our community to replace damaged and destroyed assets. We’ll also use funds to convert some of our volunteers to employees or contractors to complete the disaster recovery work. Any donations left over we will use to help other farmers in the Caribbean disaster zones or local non-profits in the USVI. You can follow this link to help us meet our hurricane recovery goals: gofundme.com/artfarmllc

Our ARTbarn, which serves as a studio and gallery, exploded up and out, losing the south roof as well as the north and west walls.

One of the main challenges for all hurricane-affected folks in the Caribbean (including us) right now is dividing our time between re-organizing and repairing things at home, reorganizing and repairing things in the workplace, helping others where we can, and getting down to the normal tasks of the season. For us, these fall months of planning, preparation and planting are crucial to the success of the season ahead. It is certainly feeling overwhelming!

We have a few thousand feet of fences that were blown askew or crushed by utility poles, breaking gates and hardware. There is much repair work to do in the pastures before our livestock will be safe and secure.

We have had fantastic volunteer help from a few friends who have started the process of righting downed fences and clearing the broken up lumber from our seedling house and ARTbarn. Other friends are helping us catch up with gardening chores. We have a pair of awesome artist friends in the states who continue to take generous amounts of time to help us to negotiate various disaster recovery application processes, to find out what programs are available and otherwise to help us seek out information online. (It is still impossible to get online without leaving the farm.) There is still a lot more to do. We may host another massive volunteer party this season to accomplish more of that restoration work. ❤️❤️❤️

We have blessedly received most of our regular seed orders through the US Mail (currently one of the fastest methods for sending mailable things to the Virgin Islands) and we are actively planting food, hoping that the demand will be enough for what we will be supplying. Our young tomato plants are starting to flower, our cucumber and zucchini vines are starting to produce young fruits, and the pumpkins and melons are flowering and starting to set fruit. With all the rain, we are actually a week or two ahead of schedule this season. Lettuce and herbs, beets and carrots are all growing nicely.

‘Holey’ basil…the caterpillars are having a field day!

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ger and turmeric plants have recovered following the storm and most of our fig trees that survived are starting to fruit. We are seeing a lot of caterpillars, ladybugs, aphids and other indications that a healthy insect population is rebounding on the farm. We have lost a lot of Jack Spaniard (paper) wasps, which are a big part of our integrated pest management (‘good’ bug vs. ‘bad’ bug) practices. The wasps helpfully eat lots of caterpillars, and their numbers were decimated by Hurricane Maria. But migrating swallows, ani (black witch) birds, kildeers and kingbirds have been active hunters in the gardens since the storm to help us protect our young crop plants from little munching mouths. Pearly eyed thrashers, normally the bane of tropical farmers because they attack crops directly, are switching to a caterpillar diet due to the lack of available foods for them. Thrashers are also eating gungalos – this is unfortunate, as they are a beneficial soil-building insect, but noteworthy as it is not a typical part of the bird’s diet.

Luca wanted you to know that we have some native and local young trees in pots for sale, to help us offset our storm expenses and to help you replant your landscape. We’ve got lignum vitae, calabash, mahogany and a few others. You can just give us a call or send a text message if you’re interested in buying some trees or pineapple slips, and we will set up an appointment.

Our most urgent need now is for power to run our refrigerators, freezers, pump and water filtration system so that we can make and safely store salad mix. We are also raising money to restore damaged buildings and fences.

Thank you to those amazing people who have already donated to help us, thank you for your continued support, and best wishes to all of us in recovery mode.

Love, ARTfarm

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.

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.


 

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