St. Croix Central High School Anthropology Club members ventured through the fields of Sejah Farm of the Virgin Islands to prepare for a trip to West Africa. They were seeing what farming on St. Croix is like compared to farming in Africa.
In April, 18 students will be traveling to Ghana. Club advisor Duane Howell felt it was a good way for the students to prepare for their trip by touring a local working farm and see how the farming practices may compare.
“They are more of an agrarian society in Ghana, so I wanted the students to see what a farm on St. Croix is like and what the process of raising livestock and crops here is like,” Howell said.
Members of the Crucian Cooking Cuisine Club tagged along Thursday for the tour, too.
Burton Peterson, advisor for the cooking club, said many of the students have never seen or been to a farm. The students on the tour were between the ages of 14 and 18.
“They see the vegetables growing and appreciate them more,” Peterson said. “They are amazed at what they are seeing here. It gives them more of an awareness of what farming is.”
Dale and Yvette Browne, owners of Sejah Farm, the 2011 Agriculture Fest Grand Champion, gave the students a walking tour of the farm. They told a bit about organic farming, weed control, crop rotation, irrigation and how much healthier locally grown food is.
There were 30 students checking out yellow blossoms and shiny, green finger-length zucchini along with bright, yellow crook neck squash. Yvette Browne said they planted the bright green oak leaf lettuce between crimson sorrel plants since both plants used the same amount of water from the drip irrigation system.
As the students got down in the dirt and prepared to plant pineapples, the rains came and put a damper on the rest of the planned tour, which included milking a goat.
Dale Browne said the conditions were not sanitary for milking after the rains. He said he couldn’t clean the goats teats properly to allow the students try their hand at milking.
The students ran and took shelter under the canopy of the Sejah Farm produce market, where they got some lessons in business and marketing of produce. The students purchased spiced popcorn and local juice drinks.
The couple leases 15 acres of land from the V.I. Department of Agriculture off Casper Holstein Drive in Estate Castle Burke. They have 11 acres for grazing up to 50 sheep and 80 goats, three acres for crop production, and one acre planned for poultry production.
They call it the “farm belt” of St. Croix. The landscape of the area makes this reporter imagine what Africa looks like.
The Brownes encourage groups to check out the farm and see what’s possible in farming on St. Croix. The farm market is open Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.