Jan. 8, 2006 Usually, the St. Croix Environmental Association's hikes along the island's rugged shore or soft mountains are a small affair with maybe a dozen or two-dozen participants.
However, the group hiking over the ridge Sunday from Mt. Victory Camp to the V.I. Sustainable Farm Institute looked like a small army.
Bruce Wilson, who has been running Mt. Victory for two years, called the turnout "awesome."
He took a picture of the crowd, which probably numbered over 100, as the group stopped to look at the ruins of the old estate sugar factory. He said, "I am taking this picture because when we say people are interested in the history of the island, it sometimes helps to have proof."
Wilson talked to the group, which was celebrating SEA's 20th year of activity, about the Mt. Victory ruins and the changes the estate went through after its establishment in the early 1700s.
He then turned the group over to SEA volunteers who led the participants on a hike of a couple miles over the mountain to the Institute.
At the top of the mountain the crowd learned about the construction of windmills and was treated to views that covered much of the west end of the island and both oceans.
Hikers were greeted at the bottom side of the mountain, opposite Mt. Victory, by Dan Glenn, one of 10 people working to grow fruits and vegetables completely organically.
Glenn said, "We are still learning. We are taking a lot of notes."
The farm includes 140 acres. Several acres are dedicated to growing fruit, and one acre is a sort of kitchen garden with a wide variety of vegetables. He said, "We are doing the best as possible dealing with the bugs organically, but we lose some vegetables."
Glenn added that the farmers were dealing with new climate issues, as most of those involved with the farm the last three years were more familiar with the climate of the southwestern United States.
After touring the farm, the group hiked back to Mt. Victory.
Upon arriving, the real party began as most hikers took part in a Mt. Victory Camp Cookout, where Jamesie King of Scratch and his All-Stars provided the entertainment.
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