The ARTfarm on St. Croix, USVI
experienced heavy damage to farm structures from Hurricane Maria. Despite four days of nearly 24 hour a day preparation on the farm and the adjoining farmstay vacation rental business, the CAT 5 hit the farm hard on September 19, 2017. We lost our seedling house, the ARTbarn gallery/studio, 10% of our breeding sheep, the chicken tractors, and half our fruit trees. We incurred damage to roof structures of toolsheds and to much of our livestock fencing. Utility power throughout the US Virgin Islands experienced catastrophic damage and grid power at the farm was gone for 5 months. For more details, please watch the three minute video we created to document our experience and goals for this fundraiser. The breakdown is listed below.
We originally asked for $23,000 in recovery funds on this page from friends and family and the community, to help us rebuild, assuming that FEMA, SBA and USDA disaster assistance programs would help where applicable. What we have learned after painstakingly applying to all these disaster aid programs is that agricultural businesses will categorically be denied any FEMA or SBA assistance as a matter of policy; and the USDA cannot assist with any structures on a farm. This leaves us with (apart from a lot of anger and frustration) smaller programs from USDA to assist with brush removal, fruit trees, fencing and livestock. So far we have received an underwhelming $454 in disaster relief from the USDA for our $1300 in livestock losses.
Family and friends have asked how they can help. Funds are best so we can purchase local and appropriate materials, tools and labor and keep the money in our island economy. We decided to continue to supply the community with fresh food and delay our recovery efforts until the spring 2018. We opened for the season as of November 11th, 2017 and completed pasture fencing repairs and demolition work in summer 2018. We've made it through the 2018 storm season with no major storms, and are readying to reopen the farmstand in November 2018, but still have not rebuilt major structures lost in Maria.
Here are our estimates on what recovery of these key assets will cost us:
$20K - replace seedling house
$2K - replace fruit trees lost
$14K - replace the ARTbarn studio/gallery space
$2K - labor to repair pasture fencing
$6K - repairs to toolshed roof supports and other structures
We have already started recovery efforts so funding ASAP will help us to continue. Check out our donor levels. We are working on artworks both as therapy and to thank our generous supporters. Lots of love from the ARTfarm family!