Sugar Brown is a small organic farm on St Thomas, USVI trying desperately to rebuild in order to feed themselves and their community. They fear that they will be without access to fresh foods for a very long time.
It was a challenge...could we keep the small basil plant from Home Depot alive for two weeks. Our dog Sugar was pretty healthy so we had a good track record.
What started as a humorous challenge turned into a hobby, then a passion and finally a livelihood. Living on a rock means that growing vegetables are a challenge due to the shallow and hard earth and persistent iguanas who are ravenous for fresh vegetables. Creating small starters with seeds in planters was a fun next step.
As the small starters began to grow, Eron's folks came to visit and made them an hydroponic system. Then their friend Kim had a misadventure with guppies so she kept the hydroponics stocked with guppies and 'dirty' water which made a completly self sustained nursery system.
Their farm grew: they landscaped the hard earth by hand (the landscape does not allow for machinery) turning it into 12 raised beds, 7 Machu Pichu style avenues that were filled with soil and horse manure--10,000 lbs of manure (yes, it was an election season) that was carried bucket by bucket to the beds and literally tons of rock to build the avenues.
Eventually the farm became so popular with friends of Mike and Eron's that they were contracted to provide fresh, organic lettuce and herbs to some of the finest restaurants on St Thomas.
The handmade hydroponic is gone, the guppies are gone, the raised beds, green houses, nursery and LED lights... all gone. The solar panels that powered their house (and pump for water) are gone or unusable.
But the power of this story is the respose; friends started showing up with shovels, buckets of soil and fertilizer as well as water from their cisterns. They spend hours in the blazing Caribbean sun to pitch in and help begin to bring life back to the farm and thus the island because finding fresh, sustainable food will be a long way off for this island.
.....as Eron texted a friend the morning after the storm: "today we plant....it is time to get back to life."
Their dream is to rebuild the farm and to purchase a Tesla battery that they can use to store solar power in the future so they can be completely off the old, dilapidatd grid of St Thomas.
A note from Mike and Eron:
We hear help in on the way, but have yet to see any of it. We live in the mountains & are somewhat isolated from the rest of the island. If supplies are being distributed, we are so far from distribution points that we can't risk wasting the gasoline to drive through the labyrinth of power lines and downed trees for the possibility of food. Our friends have waited in lines for over 3 hours only to be told no food, water, or tarps are available.
Everyday. We push to rebuild.
So, yes, we need help. Our community needs help.
Thank you for taking time to read our story
- Sarah Ratliff
- Lynn DeLaney
- Amy Palder
- Ashley Haskin
- Gaia Richards