With a little help from our friends:
Here is Will and Elaine in this 6 minute video, to explain what we are setting out to achieve.
This is a special appeal to those who wish to introduce themselves to our Caribbean Community and for those who wish to involve themselves in some way towards a better future in a “Fix the World” project:
The Lowlands Community Garden is an exciting new initiative being set up to provide delicious, local, sustainably-grown produce to the island community of Saint Martin/Sint Maarten (St. Maarten). All of our fresh produce will be grown using the latest ‘aquaponic’ technology, which means that in addition to fruit, vegetables, and herbs, we will also be selling organic freshwater fish and eventually, langoustine.
http://lowlandscommunitygarden.com/ Book mark us here:
The Lowlands Community Garden will play an important role in localizing, and strengthening, the local economy. Island residents are currently almost totally dependent upon imported food and a significant percentage of every Euro or Dollar spent on food leaves the island. The objective of theLowlands Community Garden project is to increase food security for the people of St. Maarten by reducing dependence on imported food. In addition, the money spent on locally produced food remains within the local economy and, as the Lowlands Community Garden is a non-profit project, all our revenue will be invested in establishing the next community garden on our island.
The proposal is to transform the derelict 400 m2 steel frame greenhouse on the site we’ve located into the Lowlands Community Garden, a working aquaponics community garden and education learning center. The greenhouse requires complete refurbishment as it has not been in productive use for some years. The site has easy road access, water and electricity and a rain water cistern.
The Lowlands Community Garden will create employment and provide training in various disciplines whilst providing organically grown produce and sustainably farmed freshwater fish for the local community. The aquaponics growing system that we will employ is simple to construct and can be easily replicated. By using this system we can produce the maximum amount of produce from the available growing space using less than 10% of the water of conventional agriculture. TheLowlands Community Garden will use renewable energy for the electrical requirements and collect rainwater for the aquaponics systems.
We have chosen to use aquaponics as the production system at the Lowlands Community Garden. Aquaponics is more than a just a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics in that the whole is greater than the sum of the two parts. In aquaponics, fish and plants grow together in one integrated, soil-less system. The fish waste provides a food source for the plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. The biological process that makes aquaponics work relies on beneficial microbes that naturally occur everywhere to convert the fish waste into water soluble nutrients that the plants use. Filtration components in the aquaponic system simply provide habitat for the microbes and removal of the solid fish waste, which can then be mixed with composted vegetable waste to provide a nutrient rich growing media for the propagation of seedlings.
Aquaponics produces safe, fresh, organic fish, fruit, vegetables and herbs. When aquaponics is combined with a controlled environment greenhouse, premium quality crops can be grown on a year-round basis. The greenhouse and site we’ve located is perfect for an aquaponics installation. It will house fish tanks and the associated grow beds from which we will produce between 3,000 and 5,000 fish and up to 70 tonnes of clean, green, chemical-free produce per year for the local community. All revenue generated will be used to establish further community gardens all over the island of St. Maarten.
The Fish – Tilapia:
Originally found in Africa, Tilapia has been farmed for more than 2,500 years. Tilapia is a perfect fish for establishing our aquaponics systems because of its rapid growth, large size, and because it tastes great. This hardy fish can adapt to most any condition and prefer warm water – perfect for our tropical island climate. Tilapia grow to a harvestable size in as little as 5 months.
The fresh, organic produce will be made available in the form of ‘vegetable boxes’ as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, making healthy, affordable food accessible to all members of the community. You can find out more about Lowlands Community Garden CSA shares by following THIS LINK and by reading this BLOG POST. A proportion of our produce will be donated to organizations and/or individuals and families who are in need. We believe that no one should have to choose between rent and food. Neighbors should help neighbors.
Renewable energy, in the form of solar power, will be utilized to provide electricity for the kitchen and teaching area as well as for the cooling fans, water pumps, aerators and any other appliances that may be required.
Aquaponics training courses will be run on a regular basis. We will also run courses on renewable energy, aquaculture, seed saving and plant propagation, food packing and preservation. Our facilities will be made available to other community organizations, schools and colleges for visits, apprenticeships and work placements.
The Lowlands Community Garden will employ a full time team including administrative personnel, a maintenance manager and production staff. Further part-time and volunteer opportunities will be available.
When Do We Begin:
We are ready to begin work on the Lowland Community Garden immediately. Construction time is estimated at 8 weeks, including the repairs to the greenhouse structure and the installation of the aquaponics system, teaching area, composting toilet and renewable energy systems. Commissioning time will be a further 4 weeks during which time the system will be cycled with just plants to allows for the beneficial bacteria to become established. During this period we’ll be starting our seedlings from organically grown non-GMO seeds. Our first harvests will begin 8 to 12 weeks later and we’ll begin delivering organic produce to our community immediately.
Why we need your support:
We are seeking the following amounts in funding in order to make the Lowlands Community Garden a reality:
Stage 1 – Greenhouse Renovation:
Stage 1 involves the complete restoration of the Lowlands site including clearing the overgrown vegitation, repairing the greenhouse frame, refurbishing the floors and walls, fitting the frame with a polythene skin and shade cloth, building of a learning centre, kitchen, compost toilet, basic plumbing, electrics and solar energy system. To complete this stage of the project, we need to raise $75,000.
Stage 2 – The Aquaponics Installation:
Once the basic facilities are complete we will install the aquaponics systems including grow beds, fish tanks, pumps and all the associated pipe work, fixtures and fittings. To purchase and install the aquaponics systems, we need to raise $85,000.
The total funding needed to make the Lowlands Community Garden a reality is $160,000.