US Virgin Islands

Caribbean Mar 4th, 2017 to Mar 11th, 2017
Cost: $1,354.00 Partner Organization(s): Ridge to Reef Farm at the Virgin Islands Sustainable Farm Institute Service Type: Environmental conservation Number of Participants: 10

TRIP LOGISTICS AND PARTICIPANT REQUIREMENTS

We will be staying in St. Croix at an off the grid USDA certified organic farm in the mountainous rainforest of the Virgin Islands. This farm functions 100% off of solar power and filtered rainwater while producing healthy food for the local community.  Not to mention Ridge to Reef is carbon negative–the exact opposite of emitting carbon dioxide, and therefore prides itself on the ability to live as a part of nature, not apart from it.  We will be tent camping and cooking our own food in their community kitchen.

Our group will fly out of Dulles airport in Washington, D.C. and fly into to Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in St. Croix, Virgin Islands and be met by the local taxi driver, Kaya, on Saturday, March 4.  We will be dropped off at the airport by the coordinator and will return to UVA on Saturday, March 11.  There are no language requirements but an interest in the environment is highly recommended!

 

SERVICE ACTIVITIES

Most of our time will be spent on Ridge to Reef as we will be volunteering on the farm and in the garden most days.  Our responsibilities will be based on what they are growing at the time and the farm coordinator, Nate Olive, will give us instruction depending on what skills we need to know for the specific farming and gardening processes.   We will be outside all day everyday soaking up the sun and learning how Ridge to Reef maintains their farm and garden in an environmentally sustainable way.  Ridge to Reef Farm is responsible for feeding 1% of the Virgin Islands population healthy, local, organic food, including the school systems. As volunteers on the farm we will help with accomplishing their goals for the harvest while promoting a more healthy island and global community.

 

REGIONAL BACKGROUND

The US Virgin Islands are a group of three small islands just east of Puerto Rico. Although it is the largest of the three islands, it is still only 83 square miles. St. Croix Island sports an exceptional topography of mountains, rainforest, and fertile coastal plains. The economy is driven by tourism, but also has a long history in growing sugar cane, making rum, and farming. The islands are territories of the United States politically, originally discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. The islands have belonged to Spain, Netherlands, Malta, Great Britain, France and Denmark before it was sold to the United States in 1916. St Croix has about 50,000 people living on the island with a density of 610 people per square mile. The majority of people are Afro-Caribbean, white, and Hispanic with a lot of people coming from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

 

COMMUNITY BACKGROUND

Visitors to St. Croix will see traces of St. Croix’s rich cultural diversity in the island’s distinctive arts, crafts, music and festivals. “Mocko Jumbies” (traditional stilt dancers thought to chase away evil spirits), reggae and calypso, steel pan bands and pulsating salsa are among the captivating sights and sounds that add to the island’s cultural mix. Its traditional folk dance performances, many with African roots, can be seen on the island all year round. The people of St Croix Island understand and focus on the importance of sustainability. There are six national parks throughout the three islands and many bio-diverse reefs as well as 11,500 acres of protected land to hike. The population is primarily Afro-Caribbean, which dominates the culture, white, and hispanic. The primary language is English and the primary religion is Christianity.

 

RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES

The first weekend we arrive on the farm, Ridge to Reef will be hosting a Bush Skills Cookout where we will learn how to harvest and prepare an all-natural island feast.  In our down time during the week we will hike 3 miles down the mountain to get to the beach to play, swim and meander. We will do a few workshops on the farm such as how to make fire from scratch. In addition we will take a guided hike tour of the island. At nights there will be bonfires, stargazing, poetry, meditating and jams. Also we will discuss fascinating ideas such as the corruption in the food industry, how to farm sustainably, how to live various sustainable lifestyles, and how climate change plays a role. Also, we will be cooking most of our own food but a few special meals will be prepared by professional chefs.

 

ABOUT THE SITE LEADERS

Gabby (grl5wa) is a 3rd year Global Sustainability and Foreign Affairs Major from RVA. I like to dabble in protecting the earth all day everyday.

Jack (jst3cr) is a 4th year Economics major from Lexington, Kentucky. He loves live music, sports, traveling the world and exploring places unknown.

Gabby and Jack went on the Drake Bay, Costa Rica ASB trip in 2015 where they cleaned the beaches, created paths for baby turtles, and painted signs/waste bins for the ecofarm and community center.  In the spring of 2016 Gabby and Jack then led a trip to Fajardo, Puerto Rico where they collected data while cleaning up beaches, helped with getting rid of invasive species, built a picnic table, volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club, and learned to make soil/planted plants.  Now they are ready for their third ASB adventure together in the Virgin Islands!