Jan. 21, 2005 If the Virgin Islands are a part of the American cultural melting pot, then the hillsides of Bordeaux are adding a spice to the mix that can be found in few other places under the U.S. flag. And this weekend, everybody is invited to the West End for a taste literally.
The Rastafarian farmers collective, We Grow Food Inc., is holding its eighth annual Agricultural and Cultural Food Fair, dubbed, "As a People We Must Strive Support Agriculture 2005," beginning Saturday morning, with festivities to continue throughout the weekend.
Ras Cubu, We Grow Food's president, wanted everybody to know they are welcome. "This is a celebration. It's a sale, too, but it's also a time for people to come out and commune together, " he said. "It is a Rastafari experience and we'd like people to come and see how we live."
For many years now the group of St. Thomas farmers have been working together to produce life's most basic requirement, food. Cubu explained the fair is more than just a market. Yes, fair-goers will be able to purchase an abundance of locally grown fruits, vegetables and herbs. Yes, there will also be African-inspired art, jewelry, clothing and other things like handmade candles, incense and essential oils.
"But this is a celebration of life and community," Cubu said.
It's also a harvest rite and an educational experience. Children young and old are invited to participate in planting classes, farm tours, African painting lessons and demonstrations of all kinds. Want to learn how to make your own broom? Go to Bordeaux. Interested in picking up the art of making a fiery pepper sauce under the instructions of master saucier Lucinda Henley? Go to Bordeaux. Want to see a living farm sculpted from a rugged hillside? You know where to go.
"Last year was very productive," Cubu said. "And the rains so far this year have been really good for the plants."
There will be 63 vendors participating, compared to last year's 60. Cubu said they wanted to keep it to 60 again this year, but there was so much interest, it was hard to say no. Vendors will be coming from St. Croix, Tortola, and as far away as Grenada.
In keeping with the Rastafarian requirement of abstinence from meat, the prepared foods available at the event will be strictly vegetarian. Ital, vegetable pate, curried tofu, and Rasta lasagna will be among the choices of cooked foods. "But we know that the essence of life is living food, so we'd also like to pass that along too," Cubu explained. That means all kinds of raw-food dishes and freshly prepared juices made with fruits grown on the surrounding hills. Tamarind, passion fruit, lime, guava and peanut punch will all be on hand.
And of course live music and spoken-word will be a part of the experience. A number of local bands will play at various times throughout the weekend, including Inner Visions from St. John, and Motion Band from St. Croix. Members of the St. Thomas poetry collective, Rock Lounge, will also perform.
The event's opening ceremony is at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with activities scheduled into to the evening. Sunday's celebration will be from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. The festival is being held in the area surrounding the old Bordeaux tennis courts.
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