One would think that growing crops in the Caribbean would be easy, with a year-round temperate climate. Some islands may be so, but others are not blessed with the gift of a green thumb.
Factors that differ among islands include land mass (or scarcity), elevation, not particularly fertile limestone, and lack of irrigation.
For years, the Turks and Caicos Islands’ Seven Stars Resort & Spa has imported much of its produce from Miami and local farmers. But there were some hurdles. Traveling from Florida has seen poor food freshness, limited supplies from local farmers, and hurricanes impacting local producers, which are consumed there, according to the Turks and Caicos Department of Agriculture. Over 90% of his food is imported.
Robin Jansu, Food and Beverage Director, Seven Stars Resort & Spa, said:
In 2020, the resort’s Executive Chef, Edwin Gallardo, decided to turn the disused rooftop into a garden with an assortment of herbs and vegetables carefully selected by the chef. But two years later, the 167-room resort took gardening a step further by investing in hydroponic containers.
Using Freight Farms hydroponic modular containers, the resort grows specific types of lettuce, leafy greens, and microgreens. According to Freight Farms, the Greenery S model can produce 2-6 tons of produce per year. The approximately 40-foot-long container is fully enclosed and temperature and light controlled. Prices start at $150,000.
There was a bit of a learning curve at first. “We are hotel people,” Jansu said. “We know restaurants and kitchens, so starting farming was a bit of a jump.”
But soon it felt natural. Rather than importing vegetables and herbs, the resort would buy seeds and in nurseries he would germinate them for three to four weeks before transplanting the seedlings into vertical growing areas where they would mature in four to five weeks, depending on the crop. rice field.
“It’s a protected environment here,” Jansu said. “You don’t have to worry about shade or sun, rain, or bugs.” When the humidity is high, this system will generate additional water for the resort to use for its rooftop garden. The container maker claims he has reduced water use by 95% over conventional farming.
For now, the resort is focusing on more sensitive greens and herbs.
While the resort incorporates its produce into its three existing dining outlets, the resort will incorporate the “garden-to-table” concept into The Farm Restaurant, which is expected to open in February or March. The restaurant offers healthy breakfast options, casual lunches and more sophisticated dinners. A hydroponic cultivation container is located near The Farm, where guests can experience not only the techniques involved in cultivation, but also the results.
“We’re trying to raise a little more awareness locally and solve the problem of food insecurity,” Jansu said. .”
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