Saturday, March 15, 2014

U.S. Virgin Islands and local food production

view towards St. Thomas from St. John
A second trip to the Caribbean has me pondering (again) about local food, food self-sufficiency,  and vegetable-growing (hmm, where are they).  Not to mention supplies of anything else.

Apparently, between 95-99% of food is imported in the U.S. Virgin Islands (with dairy supplies coming from St. Croix, and an emerging farmer's market/organic farming culture there). We haven't been there, but it's flatter, with better farmland.

On St. John, it's incredibly hilly, rocky, and relatively arid (hard to imagine that sugar cane was profitably grown here for 150 years, but that was a different era, with enslaved humans, and in a time that sugar was truly a "cash" crop.)

But, surely, a few folks would be growing vegetables intensively?  In raised beds? On rooftops? Hydroponically?  But it's a culture driven by affluent tourism.  Water is in short supply, however, even if power (if solar) would be abundant.

Last year, in Dominica, a much, much less affluent place, I was amazed at how few vegetable gardens that I saw -- even when space and water is available.

But most of St. John is national park, too, so "off-limits" to non-park uses -- it's what makes it such a great destination, for sure.  Snorkeling, hiking, peacefulness, and enjoying the views of the ever-changing blues of the ocean waters of the Caribbean.

Leinster Bay

Enjoying Caneel Bay

1 comment:

  1. We have a young friend who spent a couple of years in Belize working on a tree farm, but the most amazing thing he learned was that most of the farmers on Belize were Mennonites! 3000 Mennonites who were good farmers settled in Belize in 1959. They farm and produce dairy products and poultry.


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