Wednesday Watermelon Wonderment 3-6pm 

Water for watermelons! One of our ponds. This one replenishes the water table.

Water for watermelons! One of our ponds. This one replenishes the water table.

Compared to this time last year, things are blessedly moist right now. The 6+ inches of rain we got at the beginning of the month of May <insert happy dance> has continued to promote explosive growth all over the farm.

So here’s what it brought you for today at ARTfarm, 3–6 p.m.: Sweet salad mix, baby arugula, bunched arugula, a few pints of cherry tomatoes, a few slicer tomatoes, dandelion greens, Italian basil, garlic chives, parsley, freshly dug ginger root, French breakfast radishes, sweet bell peppers, serrano peppers, Indian chili peppers, yellow seasoning peppers, fresh cut zinnia flowers, good quantities of yellow and red fleshed WATERMELONS, loads of sweet and yummy papaya, passionfruit, a few dragonfruit, a few pineapples, and very fresh, delicate and very mild local goat cheese from Dr. Bethany’s Fiddlewood Farm alpine goats!

Cray-cray...this watermelon is sweeeeeet! You can save the seeds for roasting like pumpkin seeds.

Cray-cray…this watermelon is sweeeeeet! You can save the seeds for roasting like pumpkin seeds.

ARTfarm Saturday morning! 10am-12noon

A bit of fresh sweet salad mix, kangkong (Asian water spinach – a cooking green), garlic chives, and fresh mint. From our partners: Solitude Farms dragonfruit, Haitian kidney mangoes from Tropical Exotics orchard, and vegan coconut ice cream from I-Sha.

A showy hot pink bud of a dragonfruit plant looks like a plant extra from a sci-fi movie or Little Shop Of Horrors.

Zamorano (Hylocereus polyrhizus) has one of the flashiest dragonfruit flowers. Luca pollinated two of these flowers tonight. If all goes well each flower will produce a ripe fruit in approximately 3-4 weeks.

We will not have salad mix next week, nor for the next several weeks. We will still have some dragonfruit and mangoes, if you would like to purchase those over the next couple of weeks feel free to call the farm and we’ll do our best to accommodate you off-hours.

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.

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.

Jurassic Fruit, Fresh Sweet Salad!

Two hot pink dragonfruits ripen on a green, succulent spiny vine during the dry season.

The strange and wonderful pitaya, or dragonfruit, grows at the end of a primitive, spiny climbing vine. Early summer is typically the season for the dragonfruits to flower and ripen.

Pitaya, also known as dragonfruit, has one of the most strange and dramatic presentations of all the crops we can think of.

Today’s haul: Loads of tender sweet salad mix, Ethiopian kale, bunched arugula, mint, lemongrass, Italian basil, rosemary, zinnia flowers, a few pineapples, a few passionfruit, and red fleshed dragonfruit!

A trug full of ripe hot pink dragonfruit is photobombed by a pineapple and a magenta T-rex puppet.

Dragon photo-bombing the dragonfruit. We also have pineapples and passionfruit today for your inner fruit monster! OM NOM NOM NOM

From our partners we have raw local honey from Errol and vegan ice cream from I-Sha.

That’s 10 AM to 12 noon today, folks! ARTfarm is currently open just once a week during this drought.

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