The St. Croix Foundation (Foundation) will launch its pilot Farm-Tienda Project at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 5, at the Ann Abramson Pier in Frederiksted. Coinciding with the kick-off event of the Foundation’s 2019 Food and Wine Experience, the Farm-Tiendas Project represents a dynamic partnership between the Foundation, local farmers and Coca-Cola Company. The project supports the agricultural sector on St. Croix by granting eligible farmers with a durable and movable “farm stand” for the expansion of their local businesses.
In December of 2017, just three months after hurricanes Irma and Maria devasted the U.S Caribbean, Coca-Cola awarded $100,000 to the St. Croix Foundation to replicate a pilot initiative on Puerto Rico entitled “Pop-Tienda” that is sponsored by the global beverage company. Seeking to address some of the critical challenges facing small businesses in the affected areas, Coca-Cola’s pilot is providing container “stores” to Puerto Rican “mom-and-pop” small business owners who lost their businesses in the storm.
Today, through a partnership between the Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company, this initiative is expanding to St. Croix to assist local farmers to rebuild from the 2017 storms through the Foundation’s Small Agri-Business Recovery and Revitalization pilot initiative Farm-Tienda.
The initiative will award eco-friendly container stores/community hubs to farmers as a vehicle for bringing their businesses back on-line following Irma and Maria. The “farm stands” are made from steel containers that will also be outfitted with solar panels, Wi-Fi and potable water, to allow farmers to stabilize and expand their businesses while also providing community hubs in the aftermath of future storms.
Having assessed the community’s most pressing needs immediately following the storms, the Foundation, working in concert with its nonprofit consortium of local civic organizations and Coca-Cola Company, determined that one of the most vulnerable populations and economic vulnerabilities in the community (in comparison to Puerto Rico are and is St. Croix farmers. With the critical nature of St. Croix’s agricultural industry relative to the territory’s food security and economic resiliency, the Foundation and Coca-Cola proposed modifications to the Pop-Tienda project being rolled out in Puerto Rico and developed its current container farm stand concept.
The farm stand that will be presented at the launch event is a prototype of what will be offered to local farmers. The Foundation has worked closely with Coca-Cola and V.I. Good Food Coalition to develop sound criteria for awarding the farm-tiendas. The project will be officially rolled out in May. Over the course of the year, the Foundation will collect data in order to evaluate the community and economic impact of each farm stand on the farmer’s business.
“This Initiative is a perfect representation of the Foundation’s commitment to holistic community development and sustainability. Since the 2017 hurricanes, St. Croix Foundation has been acutely focused on a data-driven, community-based approach to rebuilding that will empower residents in under-served neighborhoods while nurturing economic stability and resilience. The Foundation hopes the project will inspire more community stakeholders to identify and support similar innovations and sustainable rebuilding strategies that leverage existing community assets for long-term stability and prosperity,” said Deanna James, St. Croix Foundation president.
For more information about how to support this and other St. Croix Foundation initiatives, contact it directly at 773-9898.