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Charlotte Amalie
Friday, May 24, 2024
HomeNewsArchivesJune’s Views ... From the Farm

June’s Views … From the Farm

Kit Freeman with young gardeners in Tutu.High up in the Tutu hills in St. Thomas and overlooking a steep drop to the roadway below is a small clearing adjacent to the basketball court. On this particular Saturday I stopped by just as Kit Freeman was overseeing a small band of young gardeners. This area is home of the community garden being created by the Tutu Home Owners Association and being tended by the young people of this community.

The garden area is right behind the hilltop basketball court and seems a most unlikely place to grow anything. The ground is hard and seems resistant to having anything change its structure. But on this sunny afternoon, six young men are diligently tending their garden space. One is wielding a pick axe and another is working with him using a shovel to try to remove a very stubbornly buried rock deep under the soil right on the ridge of the hill. After several tries the rock becomes dislodged and after several minutes of real effort it is finally shoved aside. One more small space has become available for planting.

In this small area I am inspired. Why? Because if these young charges can get herbs and vegetables to grow in this unlikely spot, anyone can grow anything anywhere, with the right amount of effort and commitment. I look around and see small seedlings sprouting in raised beds and more in old tires mounted one on another and filled with soil. Simply awesome!

Chico George helps the young gardeners identify pests.Albion “Chico” George arrives as I am looking around at the “crops.” Chico, an extension agent with UVI’s Extension Services, volunteers his weekends to help Kit and the students bring their community garden back to life. On this day, he identified some of the pests attacking the plants and showed his young charges how to pick off the worms, which had been munching the young cucumber leaves. He explained how important it is to pay close attention to the plants including the undersides of the leaves. He cautioned the young gardeners on the importance of catching pests and destroying them before too much damage is done. As the youngsters began to water and weed, Chico hovered to be sure that only weeds were pulled. Water was drawn from a large plastic tank on the site.

In addition to cucumbers, seedlings reaching for the sun were thyme, parsley, basil, tomatoes and eggplant. The gardeners plan to eventually create a farmer’s market at the basketball court, where they can share their bounty with the community.

Amaranth

 Burgundy amaranth, quite a pleasant surprise.What do you call this plant? As a child this was what was served when a meal had spinach in it. I grew up loving spinach. Here in St. Thomas, many people consider this plant, a weed. However, it happens to be full of iron and is very nutritious.

Several weeks ago I sowed some seeds that were labeled burgundy amaranth. The plan was to test these as a micro green to add to my micro mix. They were sown on a flat, which was perched on a slanted surface and after one of our very heavy rains all of the seeds seemed to disappear. Oh well, I thought I would just have to get more seeds and try again.

Lo and behold about a week later I notice this pretty little pinkish purple plant growing through a crack in the ground. I left it alone and after several weeks I am now graced with this 10-foot tree that is gorgeous and has begun to deliver new seeds. My micro has become a giant macro.

What is fascinating is that this is the burgundy version of my favorite spinach. Who knew!!

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