[Market-farming] Fwd: Roots Farm Work Exchange Blurb 2015

karen sutherland karen at rootsfarm.info
Fri Nov 17 08:21:36 EST 2017

Hurricane Maria on Sept. 18 devastated Dominica with its Category 5++
winds. Our farm, along with almost all island agriculture (and
infrastructure) was almost totally destroyed -- mature fruit trees ripped
out of the ground, more. We are cleaning, rebuilding, replanting. Huge job
ahead and conditions more difficult (no electricity, fresh food shortages,
etc.) Help would be a huge blessing. Please share post.

Following is our pre-hurricane description, still what we're shooting for.

Not certified but using organic standards, Roots Farm grows diverse fruits,
roots, vegetables and herbs at two lovely mountainside locations in
Cochrane, Dominica for predominantly retail sales within Dominica.
Located in a rain forested area  approximately 1600-1700’ up, we enjoy a
breezy, cooler climate than the coastal lands below,   Our past specialty
has been Asian and other exotic (to Dominica) varieties with special
culinary or healthful properties, but vegetable and herb production has
proven too labor intensive and labor supply too difficult to access
reliably so we are transitioning to emphasis on fruits and roots, aiming
for food forest type model.   We do not raise animals for slaughter but may
add chickens for eggs and manure and would love to add worms (when/if
Government approves importation of appropriate species; local worms
plentiful but not efficient converters) .  Most farm work is done by hand
using cutlass.

Dominica is breathtakingly beautiful, mostly wild, healthy, safe.  Also,
economically poor.  Great music.   Friendly, welcoming people.  Sweet clean
uncontaminated air and water.  English speaking with a French/African
Creole also widely spoken.  Cuisine with, thankfully, some French influence.

Roots Farm provides:

Place:  1 bedroom in furnished/equipped 2 bedroom apartment in ground floor
of our house.   (The 2nd bedroom may on occasion be occupied by another
volunteer or by friends)  All electric, water, cooking gas, wireless
Internet connection lincluded.   For more information, including Google
Earth link, see:  https://www.facebook.com/RootsFarmGuestApartment

Food:  Fresh vegetables, roots, herbs & fruits grown on farm, as available
and not needed for market.  Nonfarm items your responsibility.  You'll be
preparing/enjoying your own meals.

Work:  All phases of farm operation of interest and within your capacities
— including planting, weeding, weeding, weeding (did I say weeding yet?),
pest control (organic), trellis erection/maintenance, picking, preparation
for market, help at market.  Also possible involvement in such projects as
establishing poultry egg&manure capacity, vermiculture & other composting,
value-added offerings (would need  local Food Handler certification).  Good
carpentry skills/experience also prized.  From time-to-time, if desired,
can help with household chores and dogs & cats.   Anything distasteful to
you (except for Friday market prep) can be turned down as there’s plenty
else to do.

You provide:

30 cheerful but serious hours work per week

fragrance free, no synthetic chemical/pesticide/etc.,

very clean, reasonably quiet presence (no loud radio/music.  Apt doesn't
have tv)

There are enough local  "charmers" with ulterior motives of burglary that
we will ask that you not bring newfound "friends" back "home" here with
you.  If female, you will likely find that this restriction will be a handy
and welcome excuse from unwanted attention (and you will get lots of
attention.   Although very safe here, the constant ardency of the young men
does get tiring.)

We both provide the other with: respect, care, humor, wish to help,
willingness to consider differences from all sides, open honest
communication and striving for win-win in all circumstances

A little more about us:  Roots Farm is owned and operated by my partner
Roy, a native Dominican, and myself, originally from western MA, U.S., but
living in Dominica for past 20 years.  We also are lucky to have the help
of Gary, a  farmworker originally from Haiti, now living in Cochrane
village.    We were just pulling out from a very difficult period where
first disease (tristesia) wiped out 6-8 acres of citrus trees, followed by
a few years of weather devastations:  hurricanes, ash from Monserrat, and
climate change unpredictabilities and intensification of ordinary seasonal
changes (probably our biggest challenge).   And then, August 27, 2015, TS
Erika unleashed biblical amounts of rain and with it, landslides and
massive destruction of life and property all over Dominica.  3 landslides
at the farm wiped out thousands of planted vegetable and root crops, fruit
trees, anthurium and reduced once lovely soil to bare rock,  We are lucky
to have more land, more crops in the ground and have feverishly been
replanting to try to make up some of the loss.  We sell via email
subscription to eco-inns, restaurants and individuals, to general public at
Saturday market at Roseau, and occasionally also to vendors or supermarkets
or hucksters.  Changing market conditions represent another challenge.

We would prefer 2 volunteers, ideally (but not necessarily)  a couple, as
we are too busy to be much in the way of company and you would likely want
a friend with whom to explore/enjoy the island, share meals, etc.  Your
stay here should be no less than 3-4 weeks but could stretch out longer.
Other schedules possible.

If interested, do some initial research re Dominica, then please email,

What you hope to get out of your volunteer experience and what your longer
range goals & dreams are;

What is important to you as a person?  What drives you?  makes you happy?
is intolerable?

What skills, experience and interests you would bring to Roots Farm .

Anything else you would like us to know about you as a person or as
potential worker.

Whether you can be happily 100% fragrance-, synthetic chemical- and
tobacco-free (including ZERO fragrances in deodorant, laundry detergent,
personal products, etc.)

When would you want your stay here to start and end

What else you would like to know about us, the farm or Dominica

Thanks and best wishes,

Karen Sutherland

Roots Farm Organic Produce
Fruits, Roots, Vegetables & Herbs
Cochrane, DOMINICA
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