Agriculture the next economy in Sint Maarten
We are excited to share our news!
Besides considering the ongoing pandemic, November 2022 we are going to be in Sint Maarten to finally continue our Sustainable Development Goals! Our development focus is currently on the little village called The Keys in Sucker Garden, in Upper Prince’s Quarter.
In this village we have already started developments such as putting this little village on the international map among backpackers and international volunteers. We did this in 2013 by creating momentarily the only Eco Hostel / Volunteer Center named Vicky’s Keys (www.vickyskeys.com). Now that Vicky’s Keys has become our tangible example on how to live sustainably by applying self-sufficient living and agriculture, since 2014 more than 2000 guests and more than 40 volunteers have stayed and or worked at Vicky’s Keys, that tasted our home-grown fruits, herbs, veggies, and fish. We are excited to be re-opening Vicky’s Keys again and continue our development work. There is a lot to be done but we’ve made a Priority Program List of what will be happening in The Keys UPQ – stay tuned to the social page https://www.facebook.com/TheKeysUPQ.
Agriculture our biggest priority
Unfortunately the food import industry dominates, with added fact that food prices are increasing because of the current global economic crisis. Meanwhile Sint Maarten is still dealing with its own crisis which is recovering from the devastating hurricane Irma in September 2017. On top of this dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic to date has made life rough on the island, especially when income sources have dropped tremendously. Both crises have a negative impact on Sint Maarten’s #1 income source which is tourism. Despite the received funding and aid for the rebuild of Sint Maartens infrastructure and facilities and economy, within the framework of pandemic restrictions, climate change effects, dealing with less national income sources, and being confronted with increased prices due to global problems are ingredients to establish a so-called hidden poverty. Having access to insufficient and healthy food due to crisis upon crisis became a daily norm. Forced to live on canned food and or high carbs for months not only cause a one-sided diet that is health damaging. It is worrisome to learn that the current agricultural activities on island are insufficient. The few established local farmers are struggling to feed inhabitants let alone visitors. It is a fact, securing food in Sint Maarten is a problem.
Plan of approach
We believe this food security problem can be solved. Therefore, we support local farmers and are ready to help locals become less dependent on import and more self-sufficient. Bringing back larger scale agriculture to Sint Maarten by applying all agricultural methods that is possible has become a fact. This is done by encouraging locals to grow their own food by introducing them to Community Gardening and Community Supported Agriculture through our Food Farm Gardens Association (FFGA).
As a foundation we are fortunate to have access to an old plantation site. At this historical agricultural site Community Gardening and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) will be applied. Locals who are interested in learning agricultural methods and techniques can become members and join our classes. Locals who don’t have a (big) garden can also become a member and rent an allotment to grow their own food. For those who can’t busy themselves in a garden, they have the option to join our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) package plan. Locals can choose a weekly or monthly or season subscription. In return we do all the agricultural work and supply CSA participants with fresh produce according to the chosen CSA package plan. It is also our wish to work with local farmers who would like to add their local produce to the CSA provision offers.
Food Farm Gardens Association
FFGA mission is to strengthen communities by building and supporting community gardens where every person in Sint Maarten can grow healthy food in their neighbourhood. Their most important task is to encourage Food Security while representing the interests of FFGA members. As mentioned earlier The Keys Gardens will be FFGA’s first project to establish at least 70 allotments for locals to start growing their own food. In the process FFGA’s tasks are:
- Workshop Gardening
Community Gardening members will be taught agricultural methods and techniques which they can apply at their allotments. A few teaching subjects are gardening, landscaping, nutrition, the concept from “garden to table” cooking and how to deal with pests and a lot more. Want an allotment to grow your own food? Then signup here and get on the list! https://www.marlinyard.org/food-farm-gardens
- Organic Farmers Training
We think it’s important to teach agriculture as a main curriculum subject by creating a work and learning vocational training opportunity. It is important to get the next farmers generation ready to help establish a new sustainable agricultural economy besides the old economy induced by tourism. We facilitate this opportunity for locals to be agriculturally trained. After being trained we will offer students to become freelance farmers at our CSA site and station them at desired departments (aquaponic/ hydroponic/ horticulture etc). Fresh produce will then be sold at our other initiative known as The Keys Market SXM – Marlin Yard Foundation and through all kinds of channels in Sint Maarten and beyond its borders. Soon whoever want a career change and or who want to become a farmer can sign-up for our Organic Farmers Training.
- Farmers Co-operation
It is important to work with local farmers who already have their own agricultural site elsewhere in Sint Maarten. Together with local farmers we would like to create a farmers’ cooperative where we jointly work on creating Food Security for Sint Maarten and enjoy communal agricultural benefits.
International Conventional Farming vs. Organic Farming in Sint Maarten
There is a difference between Conventional farming and Organic farming. Not only they differ in terms of the methods and means employed to grow crops but also in principle and ethics. While Conventional farming only aims for higher yields and more profits, Organic farming tends to balance things out. It is a fact that the Conventional farming industry is good for billions of dollars. But the downside is to produce food fast to feed the world pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers are used to produce higher yields, unlike Organic farming that doesn’t use chemicals.
Just take a stroll down the aisle at your local supermarket when doing your groceries. You will see Conventional farming produce represents most available food products to choose from. But since we have learned that chemicals are not good for your health, a growing number of people turn to eating only Organic farming produce. We like to eat as pure and natural as possible. No added chemicals, because such is not only good for your health, but for everything that lives(!).
Because we are consciously involved with food, we want to deal sustainably with our environment, and we want to know where our food comes from. This is why we grow it ourselves and involve as many locally like-minded people as possible in the process. We vouch strongly to eat tasty and responsible food that is grown locally.
But did you know that Organic farming in Sint Maarten is already happening on a small scale? And that this farming method is yet in development internationally? Did you know the fresh food import industry in Anguilla – the British island besides Sint Maarten with a 15,000 registered population costs a whopping US30< millions yearly? So, in layman’s terms imagine how much US$ millions are spent on food import for Sint Maarten with a registered population of 41,000 on the Dutch side. Those are a lot of US$ millions that leaves the island which can be spent differently.
This knowledge motivated us to work on making locals less dependent on food import, motivate and activate local entrepreneurship, create short lines in logistics, establish collaboration, provide transparency, become self-sufficient, apply sustainability and differentiation by creating new income sources such as building an agricultural economy.
Why not have your harvest on your plate in no time. From soil to plate is literally what Marlin Yard foundation, Vicky’s Keys Volunteer Center, Food Farm Gardens Association and The Keys Market stands for. No storage, no transport, only fresh vegetables to use right away. The short chain works best for us because this way we receive a fair price for the work, and this makes an important contribution to a future-proof food supply. In addition, it is our goal to have at least 0.5% of the yearly spent US$ millions on food import stay in Sint Maarten which we believe will be a start in solving the Food Security problem. This we want to do as well through applying the Crowd Profit Sharing opportunity called Eco Shares.
Crowd Profit Sharing opportunity – Eco Shares
Marlin Yard foundation created the Crowd Profit Sharing program, because of the ongoing developments within our community. We offer our community members to enjoy “Profits” whether it being a financial gain, fresh produce or created incentives for making use of facilities. The Sharing part is distributing and owning tasks, responsibilities and taking risks together to make all the goodness happen which in turn is shared in our community.
Eco Shares is a Crowd Profit Sharing method that gets people from all walks of life and different ethnicities involved to help execute several sustainable development goals. No matter what gender you have, no matter what religion you practise, no matter if you own a business or not. The Eco Shares Program is a way for sustainable development goals (SDG’s) to be funded by the community and for the community.
What are Eco Shares?
Eco Shares is something like the original concept of investing but has integrated “saving scheme” elements. You place forward some funds to help start a project. These funds are converted into Eco Shares. Then as a reward you get a return from future sales meaning you receive a small portion of the company’s revenue for a period, this is called profit sharing. During this period, you can choose to reinvest received profits which will then accumulate as “savings”. These savings are Eco Shares that accumulates over a period that can be sold and or cashed in when requested. In addition, the participant receives incentives such as discounted rates on fresh produce, access to courses, trainings and workshops, usage of several facilities and services. A person can opt in for at least one Eco Share and choose to invest in one or more development projects. One Eco Share has the value of US$ 106.80. Each project has a forecast on return on investment (ROI) and a growth estimate ranging from 1% up to 3%.
Eco Shares available
Now that we have joined the local farmers to assist with building the next sustainable agricultural economy in Sint Maarten, this is a great opportunity for national and international supporters to participate the Eco Shares Program. If you are interested in investing in one of the SDG’s then please have a look at the Eco Shares Program at https://www.marlinyard.org/eco-shares-program. Feel free to contact email@example.com if one or more SDG’s appeals to you to participate.
Calling out to..
- Locals who are interested in renting an allotment at the Community Garden project. Find the Terms and Conditions at Allotment Terms and Conditions – Marlin Yard Foundation. Signup can be done at this link: FFGA Membership Registration – Marlin Yard Foundation
- Local farmers to work with and create a Farmers Co-operation.
- Locals who want to become Farmers and partake our Organic Farmers Training course, feel free to connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org