18lb. Wednesday at ARTfarm! 3-6pm

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Welcome, big baby!

Hope everyone enjoyed a peaceful Mother’s Day weekend. Lots of love to all the maternal beings in our universe! The ARTfarm delivered an 18 pound baby yesterday and Midwife Luca was there to catch it!

3-6pm today down the South Shore: Sweet salad mix, baby arugula, baby spicy salad mix, bunched arugula, sweet bell peppers, Trini seasoning peppers, serrano peppers, parsley, Italian basil, lemongrass, a few bunches of onions, a few tomatoes, multiple varieties of watermelons, honeydew, loads of papaya, loads of passionfruit, shaddock, fresh ginger root, and fresh goat cheese from Fiddlewood Farm!

 

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.

Lots Of Holiday Greens!!

For this Saturday, December 19th we will have, freshly harvested and ready at 10am:

December lettuces are tender and sweet!

December lettuces are tender and sweet!

Loads of sweet salad mix, baby arugula, teen arugula, baby and teen spicy salad mixes, and royal oak leaf lettuce heads;

These round yellow summer squash are tender and can be roasted, stewed, fried, stuffed…yum!!

We love seeing what you do with our produce! Here is a stuffed zucchini with a side salad! Thanks Isabel Cerni & family!

We love seeing what you do with our produce! Here is a stuffed zucchini with a side salad! Thanks Isabel Cerni & family!

Zucchini, round summer squash, lots of generously sized Ethiopian kale (it’s similar to a mild mustard green, super dark and tender), Tuscan kale and red edged kale, dandelion greens;

Fresh Mediterranean figs are beyond tender and sweet when ripe!

Wild cucumber gherkins, a few half pints of cherry tomatoes, our first slicing tomatoes of the season, and amazing fresh Mediterranean figs.

Open 10am – 12 noon but of course come early for the best selection! We will be open Wednesday, December 23rd, 3-6pm with a similar lineup.

Hot new work from the ARTbarn: Luca recently delivered the original art for the 2016 Taste Of St. Croix poster. The subject this year is one of our fellow farmers, Grantley Samuel, who is known as the Corn Man but is also renowned for his watermelon. Thought you all might enjoy this! Prints will be available at the Taste Of St. Croix in April!

Happy holidays from ARTfarm!

Acrylic on canvas, (c)2015 Luca Gasperi

 

 

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

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 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.

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.

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