Jan. 22, 2004 – If you've ever yearned to learn the secret language of bees and how and why and when they make their golden honey; if you have never dubbed a tasty Ital using the three-stone method, but wish you had, or could, or even what that means, then the opportunity has arrived in the form of the seventh annual Bordeaux Farmers Rastafari Agricultural & Cultural Food Fair, which will begin with a prayer – as all things Rastafari do – at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 24 near the Bordeaux tennis courts on the quiet western end of St. Thomas.
In 1993 a group of small-scale farmers formed a collective in order to help each other raise food from the clay-rich, water-starved soil of Bordeaux – no easy task, especially when you factor in the area's steep hillsides and often brutal sun, and sometimes brutal rain. In order to serve their common needs, the farmers, mostly adherents to the Rastafari lifestyle, created a non-profit organization they called We Grow Food Inc. Then, in '97, after no small amount of success farming cooperatively, they decided it was time to celebrate, according to WGF's president, Ras Cubu, and the fair was born.
"We wanted a way to promote agriculture not only on St. Thomas, but in all of the Virgin Islands," Cubu said, adding, "But we also wanted to celebrate our work with our community."
And celebrate the farmers will, all weekend long.
Though Rastafarians may avoid certain things in order to keep body and spirit pure and healthy – things like meat, alcohol and drugs – according to Cubu the Ras farmers of Bordeax never turn down a party held in honor of growing things and in the name of a sustainable community.
The weekend event in Bordeaux promises to be culture-rich for foodies and families alike, with three bands and two DJ's scheduled to perform at different times, demonstrations in everything from drip irrigation and tree-grafting, to the correct method used to build a coal pit. There will also be tours of the collective's more than 40 farms and 8 irrigation wells, as well as all manner of art classes for the little ones. Local crafts, food and, of course, fresh, home-grown produce will be sold at the event.
The fair begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, with music and dance scheduled well into the night both evenings.
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