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Farming the old fashion way: VIslander Aragorn Dick-Read remains true to the land

- touts regenerative organic model as the starting point for VI agriculture revival
At the helm of ‘Good Moon Farm’ is a world-renowned artist and sculptor, Mr Aragorn Dick-Read, who is also a BVI Islander with a passion for sustainable agriculture and growing his own food. Photo: Provided
'Good Moon Farm' presenting and selling its organic produce at a local farmers market. Photo: Provided
'Good Moon Farm' presenting and selling its organic produce at a local farmers market. Photo: Provided
According to Mr Aragorn Dick-Read, he believes the VI should venture down the same path of sustainable and regenerative agriculture, having once been completely self-reliant in its history as a territory. Photo: Provided
According to Mr Aragorn Dick-Read, he believes the VI should venture down the same path of sustainable and regenerative agriculture, having once been completely self-reliant in its history as a territory. Photo: Provided
Mr Aragorn Dick-Read said his farm utilises indigenous techniques of the Virgin Islands, in addition to proven Amerindian techniques from across the region. Photo: Provided
Mr Aragorn Dick-Read said his farm utilises indigenous techniques of the Virgin Islands, in addition to proven Amerindian techniques from across the region. Photo: Provided
Mr Aragorn Dick-Read VI’s agriculture development should not be about greenhouses or hydroponics as it is not viable with climate change and increase hurricane activity. Photo: Provided
Mr Aragorn Dick-Read VI’s agriculture development should not be about greenhouses or hydroponics as it is not viable with climate change and increase hurricane activity. Photo: Provided
At the local farm, he said they utilise regenerative organic agriculture, 'It’s basically using old techniques but modern non-chemical, no fossil fuel-based additives, so were are using compost, manure, the lunar planting cycle and we are actually regenerating old plantation areas, such as hillsides, terraces,' with no chemical fertiliser and pesticides. Photo: Provided
At the local farm, he said they utilise regenerative organic agriculture, 'It’s basically using old techniques but modern non-chemical, no fossil fuel-based additives, so were are using compost, manure, the lunar planting cycle and we are actually regenerating old plantation areas, such as hillsides, terraces,' with no chemical fertiliser and pesticides. Photo: Provided
Farming and cultivation on the hills of Cooper Bay, Turnbull Estate, Tortola in the Virgin Islands at the Good Moon Farm. Photo: Provided
Farming and cultivation on the hills of Cooper Bay, Turnbull Estate, Tortola in the Virgin Islands at the Good Moon Farm. Photo: Provided
Fruit basked of produce grown at the Good Moon Farm. Photo: Provided
Fruit basked of produce grown at the Good Moon Farm. Photo: Provided
Making of Cassava bread, an indigenous Amerindian food at Good Moon Farm. Photo: Provided
Making of Cassava bread, an indigenous Amerindian food at Good Moon Farm. Photo: Provided
Mr Dick-Read said during the COVID-19 lockdown, he was able to supply and distribute an estimated 300 boxes of food to easily feed about 300 families. Photo: Provided
Mr Dick-Read said during the COVID-19 lockdown, he was able to supply and distribute an estimated 300 boxes of food to easily feed about 300 families. Photo: Provided
Scenes and produce at the Good Moon Farm, in Cooper Bay, Turnbull Estate, Tortola. Photo: Provided
Scenes and produce at the Good Moon Farm, in Cooper Bay, Turnbull Estate, Tortola. Photo: Provided
Scenes and produce at the Good Moon Farm, in Cooper Bay, Turnbull Estate, Tortola. Photo: Provided
Scenes and produce at the Good Moon Farm, in Cooper Bay, Turnbull Estate, Tortola. Photo: Provided
Scenes and produce at the Good Moon Farm, in Cooper Bay, Turnbull Estate, Tortola. Photo: Provided
Scenes and produce at the Good Moon Farm, in Cooper Bay, Turnbull Estate, Tortola. Photo: Provided
COOPER BAY, Tortola, VI - Nestled in Cooper Bay, Turnbull Estate, Tortola in the Virgin Islands, for the past 10 years, ‘Good Moon Farm’ has been churning out hundreds of pounds of fresh produce every month, in a land where the majority of its food is imported.

At the helm of this initiative is a world-renowned artist and sculptor, Mr Aragorn Dick-Read, who is also a Virgin Islander with a passion for sustainable agriculture and growing his own food.

According to Aragorn, he believes the VI should venture down the same path of sustainable and regenerative agriculture, having once been completely self-reliant in its history as a Territory.

A long history of farming

Agriculture is a very important subject right now in the Virgin Islands, Aragorn told Virgin Islands News Online in an exclusive interview, adding that has come from a culture equation that is in a way now "fulfilling itself.”

“The fact that the BVI hasn’t prepared itself for this situation with COVID-19 is a consequence of events that happened from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. It’s not necessarily something that can be attributed to any particular politician… it’s a false belief in the security of modernity.”

He said the VI was led along the road to completely ignore the fact that the Territory was not providing for itself, whereas in the past, he said the Territory supported itself completely and independently with just a small population of about 16,000 people.

Now, Aragorn said due to globalisation, since around the 60s, the Territory has been importing food in a misguided approach towards feeding the population and this approach, he says, is not the fault of a single individual, be it colonial or local; rather, a shift in the global landscape.

Shift in self-sufficiency

“The shift happened with the blind faith that we put into the modern international globalised society, whereas the BVI was doing very well as an agrarian society that was living off the land and off the sea for nearly 150 years before the whole concept of modern supply chain came into place,” he said.

The division and distribution of the land, he said, also contributed to the current agricultural faith of the VI, since the land became move valuable as colleterial then it did an as an agriculture base with regards to borrowing money.

"As soon as you value your land as a viable economic asset more than it is as a sustenance of life asset, then you turn your back on the land and you cash it in to enter into the materialist culture you can obtain through cash,”

“So what COVID-19 has done is kind of pull back the curtains on that whole concept of accumulating material wealth and not having food as a consequence.”

Life as a farmer

Aragorn noted; however, that he has always been around food in the VI since his parents had a shop in Road Town and so he never turned his back on the land.

He said he also felt the need to venture to Guyana and other places across the Caribbean to learn more about organic farming from the local indigenous Amerindian populations.

“When I was in Guyana, I was working a lot with the Amerindian people there… the Caribs and the Arawaks and all of those people. I worked a lot with the Carib community throughout the whole Caribbean.”

At the local farm, Aragorn said they utilise regenerative organic agriculture, “It’s basically using old techniques but modern non-chemical, no fossil fuel-based additives. So we are using compost, manure, the lunar planting cycle and we are actually regenerating old plantation areas, such as hillsides, terraces,” with no chemical fertilisers and pesticides. 

In addition to Amerindian farming techniques, Aragorn said practices by the indigenous Virgin Islands community during the Territory’s food product era is also utilised to grow food on the hills of Good Moon.

He said some of the agriculture yields at the Good Moon Farm includes vegetables and several spices such as ginger, turmeric, lattice, spinach, cassava, sweet potatoes and more ground provision.

In addition, the farm also produces fruits like mangoes, pineapples and bananas and several other fruit varieties.

According to Aragorn, the biggest challenges include sourcing water and maintaining the nutrition in the ground in terms of soil fertility.

Regenerative organic approach

“We’ve been planting and getting a lot of food out of this, so our focus right now is keeping up the soil fertility. We’re using manure from different other farmers such as chicken and cow manure.”

Aragorn said, apart from institutional Government support with his network of about 15-20 farmers, they are completely self-sufficient.

“Most of the elected officials are not coming from any kind of agricultural background, which again is not their fault. They are educated and intelligent and cosmopolitan people, but they are more trained in the arts of banking and accountancy and media and they are not trained in the arts of the grassroots culture.”

He said VI’s agriculture development should not be about greenhouses or hydroponics, as they are not viable with climate change and increase hurricane activity.

Aragorn also noted that with those methods, there is a dependency on imports of chemicals from foreign markets, which should not be the case to produce food locally.

Greenhouses and Hydroponics outdated - Mr Dick-Read 

The Virgin Islander said especially for the Caribbean region, “You’re much better off to have increased the attention to organic and regenerative agriculture… to expect to feed the population with a set of greenhouses and hydroponics farms right now is foolishness.”

According to him, those methods are also risky for this generation and climate, because they rely on electricity whereas there could be long periods of extended blackouts as with the case of hurricane season.

“Come a hurricane, come an earthquake, come another COVID-19 disaster, I can still grow food, but if you set-up a big greenhouse and if you rely on importing chemicals and fertilisers and if the greenhouse blows away, your money is wasted,” he said.

Aragorn said during the COVID-19 lockdown he was able to supply and distribute an estimated 300 boxes of food to easily feed approximately 300 families.

Ahead of the lockdown that came as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were widespread concerns of the VI not having enough food for the Territory. "If there were 20 more farms like mine, we would be in a very better position than we are right now," he said.

30 Responses to “Farming the old fashion way: VIslander Aragorn Dick-Read remains true to the land”

  • Goodman (19/05/2020, 18:20) Like (34) Dislike (0) Reply
    Well done Dick!!! Well done.
    • please (19/05/2020, 21:20) Like (5) Dislike (46) Reply
      We have been farming for hundreds of years in the Caribbean. We don’t need anyone’s advice!
  • VI Proud (19/05/2020, 18:20) Like (30) Dislike (0) Reply
    The brother has made some valid points
  • SMH (19/05/2020, 18:33) Like (17) Dislike (1) Reply
    Splendid!
  • fat boy (19/05/2020, 18:41) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    hope he got some of the 2 mill from showda
  • Real (19/05/2020, 18:57) Like (27) Dislike (2) Reply
    Those who understand farming know that greenhouses will do nothing for our food security. If ships ever stop coming so will fertilizer, pesticides, fungicides, ph balancer, soluble minerals etc for greenhouse production. Regenerative ag is the way for BVI because it focuses on improving soil and producing quality. The old timers didn’t farm perfectly, but were able to feed 16,000 people with our own soil sun and rain. Without pro mix.
  • jack (19/05/2020, 19:06) Like (30) Dislike (4) Reply
    Fantastic article, the government need to be speaking to this guy!
    • Poor millionaire (19/05/2020, 21:23) Like (5) Dislike (12) Reply
      Where are the negative comments? If this article was about a brother from another island the negative comments will not end. Cowards...draw your own conclusion
      • Online Now (20/05/2020, 06:58) Like (17) Dislike (0) Reply
        When you only look at the colour of the messenger and not the message, you are truly racist.
    • Poor millionaire (19/05/2020, 21:23) Like (0) Dislike (9) Reply
      Where are the negative comments? If this article was about a brother from another island the negative comments will not end. Cowards...draw your own conclusion
    • Please Jack (19/05/2020, 21:24) Like (11) Dislike (3) Reply
      He is not the only farmer in the territory, and there are many more farmers with much more knowledge.
    • Poor millionaire (19/05/2020, 21:27) Like (5) Dislike (13) Reply
      Where are your comments "local people "? Bunch of Cowards AFRAID TO SPEAK UP AGAINST THE BROTHER FROM THE OTHER MOTHER. IF it was a brother from another island you'll will be on a roll with your less than smart stupid comments. Talk now cowards
      • @Poor millioniaire (20/05/2020, 05:31) Like (12) Dislike (3) Reply
        Boo ! Hoo! someone took away your toy?. It is obvious you are one of the persons who are spreading this hatred think in your blogs. Your "brother" tactic won't work.
      • Norris Turnbull (22/05/2020, 07:30) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
        @Poor millionaire... I red your blog and you are not making any dam sense. Seem like you want to instigate negativity. Is that the way you live your deformed life in the virgin Islands? Choops
    • @ Jack (20/05/2020, 09:22) Like (2) Dislike (5) Reply
      complexion really matters because other people meaning farmers have been blowing the same trumpet over the years NOW suddenly every man eye and ears wide open
  • hut (19/05/2020, 19:44) Like (0) Dislike (6) Reply
    no they won't.
  • Local (19/05/2020, 20:57) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Can someone direct me to where this farm is located since I do not recognise the name and also do you sell your product there??
  • Me (19/05/2020, 21:11) Like (7) Dislike (2) Reply
    This man is on point if U politicians don't learn from what this man of OUR soil is saying then we the people will perish.What he related not one of our leaders can match going foreward to enhance our sustainability in farming
    Wheatley u need to have a sit down with this.guy
  • Hmm (20/05/2020, 06:40) Like (18) Dislike (17) Reply
    This man does not planted those crops alone ok. He have workers doing it some caribs were there too im not sure if they still are and those caribs are the one with the knowledge. Other land owners from bvi can do the same.
  • @hmm (20/05/2020, 08:04) Like (18) Dislike (2) Reply
    Did he say he planted the crops alone? Did he say he alone possesses the agricultural information/skill he mentioned? Did he say he is the only farmer in the B.V.I?
    • Hmm (20/05/2020, 15:55) Like (1) Dislike (3) Reply
      No he never say that but he never mentioned either that his expat workers have lots of farming skills and he here taking all the credit. He is doing something very good which lots of local do not want to do. We would have lots of local produces here if local with all those lands just hired someone to plant it for them.:)
  • Priest. (20/05/2020, 11:20) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
    Calling on the 40 farmers who were recently enlisted/trained in the Medical Marijuana Initiative. Take note Food Security is part of the Global COVID 19 Recovery plan. Step up to the plate your country needs you. Great Job Dick Reed!
    • @priest (20/05/2020, 12:37) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      Nobody has been trained as part of the initiative. The government announced 40 would get training. Nothing had been set in motion before the pandemic.
  • Foot Soldier (20/05/2020, 12:02) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    Wow!Why do we like to beat down each other when good ideas are laid out on the table . Does it matter who the ideas came
    from. Our focus is in the wrong place .Our focus should be : Is traditional farming methods more productive than green house farming methods to the well being of the BVI OR Can both methods be implemented to add to the diversity of farming methods? There are more than enough qualified farmers from here or else where who can guide this decision . But too much ego stands in the way and we fight each other instead of moving forward . Farmers need FREE access to water in Pariquita Bay to irrigate their crops for starters . 2. A decent market which is accessible to all to sell their produce. Work as a team stop the fighting of ideas .
    .
  • Z0ne6 (20/05/2020, 13:32) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    Nice one bruv. Awesome that you distributed so much food during the lockdown to those who needed it.
  • down2earth (20/05/2020, 21:46) Like (7) Dislike (3) Reply
    Why all this hype? Organic farming is nothing new and is being practiced, granted on a small scale, from generation to generation! It did not start with Mr. Dick Read. We grow all that are in the pictures, even lettuce which old folks say 'them only water!"
    We need to celebrate other local agriculturalist who are quietly providing from 'farm to table' for their families, friends, neighbours and local supermarkets.
    • Really (26/05/2020, 08:33) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      I agree. There are many famers here in the BVI who have held it down for years, it didnt start with Dick. Why are acting like this guy discovered sonething brand new that we all need to be educated about. Child please. I would have rather read an article like this about one of our young people in the society taking on farming as a passion and way of life.


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