Work is underway to expand the agriculture system in the Community Garden area on St. Croix, the V.I. Department of Agriculture announced.
The DoA began installing piping on Monday. Department staff, along with farmers and hired help laid, cut and glued pipes along the irrigation route as the trenching machine moved forward.
When the project is completed, more than 5,000 feet of three, four and six-inch PVC pipes will be installed. A 23-horse power pump with the capacity to pump 1,000 gallons per minute will pump water from three large earthen ponds into two storage tanks with a total capacity of 160,000 gallons.
Upon completion, the irrigation system will supply water to 35 crop farmers and enhance their production capacity.
“The project will provide a constant flow of water to farms in the area which would allow farmers to irrigate more efficiently, hence improving productivity,” Agriculture Commissioner Carlos Robles said in a news release.
Farmers in the Community Garden expressed excitement over the project and the relief that it will bring, especially during the hot, dry summer months.
“Growing crops during this time of year has always been a challenge for us; the improvement to the water storage and distribution system would make a huge difference,” said one farmer.
The project is a collaboration between the VIDOA and the Virgin Islands Agriculture Advisory Group and is funded by a $43,000 Environmental Quality Incentive Program grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service. USDA/NRCS District Conservationist Rudy G. O’Reilly assisted with the design and conservation plan for the project.