Organic Farming Comes To Virgin Islands
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
In the middle of a rainforest in St. Croix, you can see just how far the organic farming movement has spread. Here, 1200 miles from U.S. mainland, is Ridge to Reef Farm. It’s the first and only USDA-certified organic farm in the Virgin Islands. Ridge to Reef is also home to the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farms Institute (VISFI), a non-profit educational outreach centre that seeks to enrich the island’s relationship to its food as the a report in the Food Republic (http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/04/24/organic-farming-comes-to-virgin-islands/)
Ridge to Reef is comprised of 100 acres (40 ha) of farmland, although only 20 (8 ha) are currently in cultivation. That is because the farm rotates its crops as a means to undo the centuries of abuse endured during the region’s sugar plantation days. Despite the somewhat limited ground space, the farm employs a fairly ingenious method of cultivation: vertical agriculture. Instead of just planting crops in rows, Ridge to Reef lets the tremendous biodiversity of its land dictate growing patterns. That means that there are pumpkins growing under passion fruit and papayas thriving in the shady spots of other trees. 15 to 20 varieties of mango alone are on the property. In addition to fruits and vegetables, Ridge to Reef is also home to chickens, goats, sheep and cattle. The animals rotate around the mango orchards and feed on the fallen fruit as well as on cherries, bamboo and a spiky tropical fruit called soupsop. The entire farm project is under the leadership of the owner and director Nate Olive.
The Sustainable Farm Institute received the USDA organic certification and is also Green Globe certified. That means that VISFI passed an evaluation based on a collection of 337 compliance indicators applied to 41 individual sustainability criteria. The whole facility is solar-powered and does not produce much trash as they have their own on-site recycling program.
Visiting volunteers stay on site almost year-round for example for the Community Supported Agricultural programs. To market the products there is an online farmers market for the local growers.
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