Opening Saturday Nov. 19th, 10am–12noon

An animation shows a tiny farmer repeatedly bouncing high into the air from a wheelbarrow.

Get ready for yummy salad! Farmer Luca bounces in his giant wheelbarrow to express his gratitude for the recent rains and for the end of the endless US presidential election.

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Our passionfruit vines are loaded with flowers at the moment!

Thanks to all of you for your patience as we closed for our summer/fall break and began gearing up for this 2016-2017 season! We’ll be open and ready for you this Saturday with quite a few treats to reward you with:

Dragonfruit (pitahaya) ripening on the vine.

Dragonfruit (pitahaya) ripening on the vine in November! Extended season for this summer crop!

Sweet salad mix, baby arugula, baby spicy salad mix, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, Ethiopian kale, a few bunches of Italian dandelion greens, kangkong (Asian water spinach), fresh herbs (including Italian basil, lemon basil, holy basil, Thai basil, rosemary, recao, garlic chives,) a few papayas, the LAST (really!) dragonfruit and passionfruit.

We’re happy to welcome back our good friend and farmer James Love to ARTfarm this season. He’s already fixed a lot of stuff we broke since the last time he was here! Farmer Katie has reupped with team ARTfarm to work the gardens and pastures for the fall season, and you’ll see Heather back again, helping out at most farmstands and bringing her fresh eggs from ecstatic chickens and selected organically produced produce from her family homestead, Yellow Door Farm. We’ll have other special guests, including fishermen stopping by when fresh fish is available. And our farm kid is carefully tending lots of native tree varieties to plant and to sell this season! The ARTbarn gallery/studio (the old tool shed you walk through to get to the farmstand) has been repainted and patched up, and there will be some fresh new paintings to ponder.

Last year (2015-2016) we began a slow recovery from the drought and damage from South Shore brushfires with a lot of experimental permaculture techniques (we opened in mid-December last year!). This season, thanks in part to a general return to more favorable conditions and a six-day rain bonanza in the last few weeks, our rain catchment ponds have been mostly replenished. We are grateful to make it to your holiday table this year in time for Thanksgiving, Friendsgiving, Fall Harvest Celebration, or however we choose to celebrate coming together in these socially progressive days! We hope you’ll enjoy time with family and friends, and count and share your many blessings.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Can’t wait to see you all – we’ve missed familiar faces, we welcome new customers, and we’re looking forward to sharing and enjoying the fruits of the season! Lots more treats to add to the produce list in the coming weeks. Thank you for your support.

Love, ARTfarm

 

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...the original photo...

…the original photo…

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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.

Grateful to Reopen Next Sat. Dec. 12th!

Thanks to the many customers and supporters who have called and checked in with us on our website and Facebook page, wondering when we would reopen the farmstand. We will see you all at 10 AM till noon on Saturday, December 12! We love that you love our food! Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and are looking forward to this month’s festivities!

A pile of yellow summer squash, one with a blossom still on the end of the fruit.

Yellow summer squash and zucchini have been growing beautifully!

It has been quite a tumultuous year for farm planning. The severe drought that started last winter was the driest season Estate Longford has seen in nine years. (Amazingly enough, other places on St. Croix, including the East end, apparently got more rain than usual during that period.) The pastures and surrounding hills near us dried out and turned gray, and we experienced severe and intense brushfires across the east end of the ARTfarm and neighboring pastures in May, 2015, well attended by the VI Fire Service (thank you!!!).

At this time last year, all of our catchment ponds were topped off with rain. Currently, we are at less than one third of our rainwater catchment capacity.

All of this major rearrangement of weather patterns has meant that we have delayed planting in order to reserve our irrigation water, and hesitated to invest in the season.

But, we finally bit the bullet a few weeks ago and began planting for 2015-2016. We have designed a smaller amount of growing space this year, so we will have perhaps a little less on offer in terms of quantity. We are experimenting with a few new crops, and even some new growing techniques that are going to conserve even more water. We have created a few new areas of permaculture techniques, including some giant Hugel beds, and so far the productivity seems high, although insect activity is higher than we’ve ever seen it all over the farm — we and many other farmers on the island are struggling with record numbers of aphids, caterpillars and other garden pests. We are also not alone in experiencing overwhelming growth rates of noxious weeds, which survived even when more desirable grasses and forbs perished in the drought.

A pasture is full of piles of weeds, pulled up by hand.

Kiko has been painstakingly handweeding the toxic physic nut in the pastures for weeks to try to prevent further spread. There are literally thousands of these growing, and they are poisonous to livestock.

We gratefully welcome our new employee, Katie, who is fitting right in with the crew and learning quickly!

We are waiting another week and a half before opening so that we can have salad greens for your holidays. We’ll reopen Saturday, December 12, 10 AM – 12 noon, (Christmas Boat Parade Day). We’ll have herbs, veggies, salad greens and fruit! See you in ten days!

Love, ARTfarm

Saturday Farmstand, Pineapples, Schedule Change, Dance!

More pineapples today! ARTfarm pineapples are ridiculously sweet this year, maybe because of all the dry weather. June seems to be our pineapple month!

More pineapples today! ARTfarm pineapples are ridiculously sweet this year, maybe because of all the dry weather. June seems to be our pineapple month!

Open 10 AM – 12 noon on South Shore Rd. this morning, ARTfarm has, organically grown for you: Salad mix, microgreens, small quantities of pineapples, tomatoes, and cucumbers. We have beets, scallions, mature bunched arugula, Ethiopian kale, Italian basil, mint, zinnia flowers, local honey from Errol Chichester, and admission/raffle tickets for the Caribbean Dance show next weekend! No Wednesday stand this coming week, so come out to the farm today…

Our adopted border collies, Ginger and Spice, vigilantly patrol the pineapple gardens at this time of year to discourage rats. We've seen these athletic dogs leap all the way over the row of spiny plants during the hunt. This is a viable and much more entertaining alternative to poisons for controlling crop pests on an organic farm. During dry times there is increased pressure from all pests on farm crops and resources.

Our adopted border collies, Ginger and Spice, vigilantly patrol the pineapple gardens at this time of year to discourage rats. We’ve seen these athletic dogs leap all the way over the row of spiny plants during the hunt. This is a viable and much more entertaining alternative to poisons for controlling crop pests on an organic farm. During dry times there is increased pressure from all pests on farm crops and resources.

We are changing our schedule to reflect the weather patterns. The drought is really affecting our ability to grow crops at this point. It also seems like a natural pause to tackle some big farm projects we’ve been wanting to get to. So, we have decided to curtail our Wednesday farmstands until we get some rain or production picks up again. We will be open today and next Saturday as well, and we will play it by ear after that. Mango season is coming, but it also may be a bit delayed by the dry spell we are all in.

Young dancers preparing for the annual show in the Caribbean Dance studio in Christiansted. Support the arts on St. Croix!

Young dancers preparing for the annual show in the Caribbean Dance studio in Christiansted. Support the arts on St. Croix!

The Caribbean Dance School‘s 38th annual performance is Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30 at Complex (the high school across from the UVI campus). We have tickets ($15 donation, includes entry into raffle for plane tickets and more) available at the farmstand or you can purchase them at the door! Show time is 7:30 PM. There are adorable tiny ballerinas in the show but also a number of accomplished student and professional dancers — the show is family-friendly and highly entertaining! The closing number in the show features rousing carnival music and traditional calypso dancers, and includes over 30% of the ARTfarm workforce! So come see your farmers in action and support all our local talent in the arts! The Caribbean Dance School and Company is an important cultural institution in the Virgin Islands, founded in 1977 to tour the world and share our island culture, and is still operated by the original artistic directors! It is also an enduring nonprofit organization engaging thousands of students over the years, promoting health, self-esteem, and self discipline. The arts are an important and vibrant part of Virgin Islands culture, help improve our communities in countless ways, and are woefully underfunded. Please come out and show the students you care.

Plus, you’ll get great inspiration for choreographing your own rain dance! 😉

 

ARTfarm Wednesday! Pineapple Plethora! Steam the Beets!

Hope all you wonderful moms and nurturers out there had a great Mother’s Day on Sunday. We got over a quarter inch of rain on the farm, the perfect gift!

Thanks to all who came out and supported Luca’s art exhibition this past month.

Farmer Luca especially wants you to know that, when preparing our relatively small late-season beets, you may find it much easier to peel the rough skin off after steaming instead of roasting. Post-steaming, the jackets release with just a pinch of the fingers, while roasting will largely entail the use of a paring knife. So for those of you looking for efficiency in your culinary preparations, consider the steam method. Be sure to save the beautiful pink steam bath water for use in a vegetable broth. You can add a little miso to it and it is ready as a light consommé.

ARTfarm Wednesday, 3–6 p.m.: Calling Faye, come in Faye: loads of pineapples! Also fresh sweet salad mix, “macro” (large micro) greens, bunched arugula, radishes, beets, Italian basil, a few tomatoes, a few cucumbers, and local raw honey from beesteward Errol Chichester.

Continuing the rain dance…

 

Pineapples ripening at ARTfarm, just in time to ease the sorrow of tomato season coming to a close.

Pineapples ripening at ARTfarm, just in time to ease the sorrow of tomato season coming to a close.

Wednesday Bounty 3-6pm! Come Shop Local!

We've got beautiful big beets with tops ready for cooking or juicing! Yum!

We’ve got beautiful big beets with tops ready for cooking or juicing! Yum!

 

Some sweet little rain showers at night have perked up the South Shore and quickened the pace of lettuce and veggie production. We are open today from 3–6 p.m. to share with you what the rain has brought: sweet salad mix, baby arugula, teen spicy salad greens, beautiful crispy cucumbers, lots of beets, lots of cherry and slicer tomatoes, kale, escarole, endive, baby bok choy, bunched onions, scallions, Italian basil, Thai basil, holy basil, lemon basil, garlic chives, dill, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, recao, ginger, Bodhi beans, and fresh cut zinnia flowers.

The sweet salad mix in winter is especially crispy and sweet when we've had a bit of rain. Triple washed and ready for the salad bowl!

The sweet salad mix in winter is especially crispy and sweet when we’ve had a bit of rain. Triple washed and ready for the salad bowl!

 

Around New Year’s Eve we had a pair of stray feral dogs show up at the farmstand early one morning. Some of our customers may have noticed them quietly hanging around at the farmstand that weekend and the next. We posted about them on the St. Croix Lost and Found Pets Facebook page and the STX Animal Welfare Center’s Facebook page immediately, but in the bustle of the holidays we neglected to post about them here on our own blog.

Two black and white fuzzy dogs on the farm.

Two stray dogs turned up in December 2014. They’d been running loose since at least October. Anyone know who they belong to?

Unlike most feral strays which we take directly to the Animal Welfare Center, this pair was unusually well behaved. We reported them “found” at the AWC and had them checked by a vet but they had no RFID tags. They are currently still living at the farm. We’d like to post their picture in case anyone knows their history. We did learn after posting their picture online, that they had been living wild since at least October 2014 along the industrial sites of the south shore of St. Croix (Diageo and Molasses Pier). If you have any information or recognize them, please let us know.

 

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ARTfarm Saturday Deluge 10am – 12 noon

Thanks, all of you who did such a heartfelt raindance. Unfortunately the quantity and velocity of the precipation over the last few days has cost us some lettuce production.

On offer for Saturday morning: Microgreens, mint, garlic chives, lemongrass, thyme, zinnias, a few cucumbers, and treats from partner farms: creamy, fiberless Nam Doc Mai mangoes from Tropical Exotics, dragonfruit from Solitude Farm, local raw honey from Errol, and beautiful avocados from Smithen the Cane Man!

All this rain makes it a sensible time of the year to plant. We have pineapple slips and various native trees for sale — also a few vegetable starts.

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