Category: History

Liquid Chlorophyll Consumption in the VI: Superfood or Kryptonite

 

Chlorophyll Infographic CNHSThe local drink called chlorophyll in the Virgin Islands is similar to a blended iced tea. Made from extracting the chlorophyll out of plants and tea bushes, through the process of blending and straining of the excess bulk of the plants, what remains is a light iced tea flavored beverage usually served cold. Many who make it locally use guinea grass as their base ingredients, and then add lemongrass and other medicinal plants.

Found normally in health food stores, vegetarian restaurants, farmers markets or at some pharmacies, both forms are readily available for purchase in the Virgin Islands. The medicinal properties of either can vary depending on their ingredients.

Dr. Wendy in office at Corvia Natural Healthcare Services

Dr. Wendy in office at Corvia Natural Healthcare Services

According to Dr. Wendy V. Coram Vialet, of Corvia Natural Healthcare Services (CNHS), “the international version is made from a species of alfalfa, while the local version is usually made from guinea and or lemon grass.” Both guinea and lemongrass grow wild in the Virgin Islands.

Dr. Wendy went on to explain that in cases of iron deficiency anemia, chlorophyll is used to help with blood building as well as oxygenation. She said that, “it is a good source of energy and provides adrenal and immune support.”

A post on Pinterest shared much of the same information plus the benefits of chlorophyll with increasing red blood cell formation, blood purification, and blood pressure regulation even to helping with bad breath.

She continued saying that it is also used in some forms of cancer, is a good source of nutrients, can be used for general health maintenance and in cases of fasting due to its mineral and vitamin content.

A cup of liquid Chlorophyll made in the Virgin Islands

A cup of liquid Chlorophyll made in the Virgin Islands

Just as they both have benefits; there are potential risks from overconsumption, or in some cases, consumption period, from those who have reactions to various herbs. “The main concern is the overuse of any herb or supplement that renders it non-effective over time or induces harm to the patient,” said Dr. Wendy.

“There are no regulations in place to ensure that the product is the same every time it is made,” she added, expressing a concern more related to quality control specifically to how the herbs are grown and prepared.

In search of information concerning other concerns, a tweet from Wellness Wednesday stated,“This was concerning RE: Risks of Liquid Chlorophyll” and shared a link to a Livestrong.com article that shared concerns from allergic reactions to digestive tract disturbances as well as that some of the plants used when making liquid chlorophyll could potentially expose consumers to,” heavy metals, pesticides and other environmental toxins from the water or soil. Pesticides can interrupt hormone function, damage the nervous system or cause cancer”.

Another tweet stated that, “The green chlorophyll also produces compounds called glycoalkaloids, such as solanine, that are toxic.” Researching further on the subject, one can find a scholarly study of the toxic hazard that might be associated with the consumption of green potato tops.

Jahweh David drinks chlorophyll at sunset, "because of its healing properties," on John Brewers Beach.

Jahweh David drinks chlorophyll at sunset, “because of its healing properties,” on John Brewers Beach.

Classically trained chef, who became an executive chef at the age of 24, food and lifestyle blogger Christopher Stewart shares in her post, why she drinks liquid chlorophyll. “I drink chlorophyll because of its healing properties,” said local artist, Jahweh David, who grew up learning about herbs from her mother (just as her mother learned from her grandmother) as well as local herbalists, also mentions similar reasons.  “It tastes great and is refreshing,” she added.

With an increasing number of people in the Virgin Islands learning about and consuming liquid chlorophyll, the need for more education has become apparent and there are those knowledgeable about and interested in helping the community by cooperating with each other. In addition to physicians, local researchers like Toni Thomas, Extension Agent at the UVI Cooperative Extension Service (UVICES), known for her book on Traditional Medicinal Plants in the Virgin Islands, is willing to help with educating the community with research-based information.

Affectionately known in her hometown within the Virgin Islands as Dr. Wendy, she is available at CNHS on Wednesdays between 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm and the third Saturday of the month in suite 104 at the Foothills and also has office hours at Synergy, in Red Hook. CNHS is an established whole family health and wellness office serving the Virgin Islands community using the principles and practices of naturopathic medicine. For more info visit www.corvianhs.com, email info@corvianhs.com or call (340) 774-0224. Stay connected on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/corvianhs.

Chlorophyll made in the Virgin Islands as sold at the Natural Livity Kulcha Shop and Juice Bar

Chlorophyll made in the Virgin Islands as sold at the Natural Livity Kulcha Shop and Juice Bar with a UVICES book on Tropical Fruit Nutrition

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Savan’s Caretakers Returning Home to Organize

GrassrootsVI News – Savan’s Caretakers Returning Home to Organize

By DaraMonifah Cooper

Off-island ‘Savanero’, Iffat Walker walked through areas of Savan taking photos, video, talking to anyone and recruiting support both within and from around the community as part of the initial research stages for a clean-up and revitalization initiative set to initially kick-off in July. Her passion for her Virgin Islands’ neighborhood, and all of the family that still lives there, keeps her coming home regularly to visit and help build.

In addition to the research work done within the neighborhood itself, she also met with agencies and individuals who agreed to partner with the initiative in general support of re-building the community’s self-pride. After the first community meeting and a few initial networking meetings, including those with the Enterprise Zone Commission at the VI Economic Development Authority Director, Nadine Marchena Kean, and the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service’s (UVICES) District Supervisor, Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr., Iffat is further encouraged to continue with her research and outreach efforts.

Knowing that it takes a village, Iffat sought out the assistance of others who are already known for having similar or related missions. “It’s not my intention to reinvent the wheel. People here have already been doing this work and I’m just trying to help them work together better,” she stated. As one of the suggestions from young men in the neighborhood interested in having a community garden, Iffat also met with Albion “Chico” George of the UVICES office who is known for his work with starting up various community and school gardens.

Also seeking youth insight and support, she reached out to the Sankofa Saturdays Youth Cultural Education Initiative and was able to appear on their radio show as well as have footage taken and donated by their youth media team.

With challenges ranging from individual to organizational, she noted that there are a range of potential support systems needed and Iffat is determined to do whatever she can to use her community organizational, networking, professional and personal skills to rally others to give it another try collaboratively.

“Some have given up hope or were basically discouraged to continue due to a number of challenges, so we’re seeking that information as well as intend to be creative with forming solutions to those previous and current challenges,” she continued.

As one of the managing administrators for Community Action Now, Inc., a Georgia based organization; this is more than just another project for Iffat. She has a personal vested interest in the Savan area. “Many of the people walking around in Savan are my family,” she noted, also mentioning the need to change the negative impression some have of the area. “With Savan being the neighborhood in basically the center of Charlotte Amalie town, it would benefit the entire community to have it restored to better reflect its original reputation. The historical significance of Savan spans decades of stories with it being the first organized neighborhood for local businesses and activity,” she added.

Iffat noted that many Virgin Islanders are interested in returning home both to visit and to live, but like her, they are doing what they can from off island to help restore it first. With regular initiatives like the Department of Tourism’s territory-wide clean ups and all other organizations and individuals who regularly make their contributions on island or online, the air of hope and determination are building. With the assistance of those both on and off island, the Savan area and the Virgin Islands is prepped to becoming a cleaner, safer and more productive environment for residents and visitors alike.

For more information on this initiative, contact Iffat Walker at walkeriffat@gmail.com or check out the Proud to Be A Savanero Facebook group page and the main organization’s website based in Georgia. Photos are available here.

Collectively Planting our Seeds Firmly in a Foundation of Culture, History, Art and Community at FYCIP

On Saturday, April 25, 2015, parents, facilitators and young boys at the Family Resource Center Youth Intervention Program celebrated the closing ceremony of their Boys Rites of Passage program. The gathering allowed parents to see the various character building experiences and growth their children achieved during their months together as participants of the program. The free program is funded by the Department of Human Services, and starts in January and September annually.

The boys are ages 9 to 12 years-old and with more community support, the program can continue to offer free lunches and field trips. This would help as they continue to provide their weekly tai-chi, computer literacy, social development/socialization skills, cultural literacy and ecological art activities. The classes take place at their Second Avenue FYCIP center on Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A closing ceremony, usually occurs at the end of each component with a Rites of Passage for girls that happens in summers for six weeks. For more information, call Greg McGriff, Ph.D. at 340-776-9085 or email faycip@yahoo.com.
Students start the day off doing Tai Chi and Chi Gung

Learning emotional and spiritual self management Tai Chi with Calvin Dallas students start the day off doing Tai Chi and Chi Gung to balance and center themselves with self discipline and focusing techniques outdoors facilitated by Calvin Dallas. Dallas is one of the four adult instructors at the Boys Rites of Passage Program on St. Thomas, VI under the Family Resource Center.

Dallas bringing it in with the boys after a Tai Chi morning session

Photo Caption: Calvin Dallas bringing it in with the boys after a Tai Chi morning session

Teaching self pride and respect through cultural literacy, Dr. Celia Victor uses methods like The Virtues Project along with modern and basic history  instilling a sense of accomplishment and possibilities in the young men.

Teaching self pride and respect through cultural literacy, Dr. Celia Victor helps a student present his vision board to the parents, facilitators and other youth.

Addelita Cancryn Jr. High School Art Teacher Leba OlaNiyi teaches ecological arts and crafts to the boys along with African drumming. The facilitators at FYCIP understand that listening first, then sharing non academic methods of training encourage the boys to express themselves creatively and also become more considerate problem solvers.

Art Teacher Leba OlaNiyi teaches ecological arts and crafts to the boys

 

The cake shared at the closing ceremony
The cake shared at the closing ceremony

Students display their vision boards with their mentors
Students display their vision boards with their mentors

Bordeaux Farmers Monthly Market: A Healthy Experience for the Whole Family

Ras Amaha Kristos, the emcee of the Bordeaux Farmers' Market and a co-host of their weekly radio program.

Estate Bordeaux, St. Thomas, VI (April 12 2015) Ras Amaha Kristos, the emcee of the Bordeaux Farmers’ Market and a co-host of their weekly radio program stands at the podium. He is one of the local farmers that hosts a bi-weekly Estate Bordeaux Farmers’ Market on the Western most part of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The family friendly markets exist in a lush natural environment where healthy and homegrown food, fun, music and other entertainment are enjoyed by visitors. (Photo by DaraMonifah Cooper, Fullsail University New Media Journalism Student)

Bordeaux farmers on St. Thomas host a monthly family friendly market in a relaxed natural environment to share healthy and homegrown food, fun and music with families in the local community.

Visitors enjoy the view from alongside the market pavilion.

Estate Bordeaux, St. Thomas, VI (April 12 2015) Visitors take their time enjoying the view around the market pavilion overlooking the farms, hilly landscape and ocean view during the bi-weekly farmers market in the Bordeaux Mountains. Local farmers host a bi-weekly Estate Bordeaux Farmers’ Market on the Western most part of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The family friendly markets exist in a lush natural environment where healthy and homegrown food, fun, music and other entertainment are enjoyed by visitors. (Photo by DaraMonifah Cooper, Fullsail University New Media Journalism Student)

“Most people come only with the intention of purchasing local produce, but there’s so much more to experience than just the food, ” shared JahStarr Ras Koniyah, former secretary for the We Grow Food, Inc Bordeaux farmers organization prior to his untimely transition.

He would brag that, driving into the Western most part of the island, “the difference in the air,” is the first thing that changes as the city life is left behind replaced with the surrounding green hills and vegetation. The peaceful environment lays right in the middle of a small quiet neighborhood in the Bordeaux area also known as Fortuna.

Youth enjoy a game of 'basketball' alongside the market pavilion while their parents sell produce from their farm.

Estate Bordeaux, St. Thomas, VI (April 12 2015) Tikete Ludvig and younger brother enjoy a creative game of ‘basketball’ alongside the market pavilion while their parents sell produce from their farm. This and other creative activities are available for youth to enjoy freely around the market every other Sunday. Local farmers host a bi-weekly Estate Bordeaux Farmers’ Market on the Western most part of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The family friendly markets exist in a lush natural environment where healthy and homegrown food, fun, music and other entertainment are enjoyed by visitors. (Photo by DaraMonifah Cooper, Fullsail University New Media Journalism Student)

Here children run freely and the one main road is only a connecting line allows locals and visitors to get into and out of the area. A large portion of the hillside is farm land and home to the island’s oldest Rastafarian community. Horses, cows and other animals can be seen in the area and on every other Sunday music heard coming from the bi-weekly Farmers’ market.

Ras Amaha clears the soil in a tire garden near the compost bin area of the market.

Estate Bordeaux, St. Thomas, VI (April 12 2015) Ras Amaha loosens and clears the soil in a tire garden near the compost bin area of the marketplace, preparing it for the next watering during the bi-weekly farmers market in Bordeaux, St. Thomas. Local farmers host a bi-weekly Estate Bordeaux Farmers’ Market on the Western most part of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The family friendly markets exist in a lush natural environment where healthy and homegrown food, fun, music and other entertainment are enjoyed by visitors. (Photo by DaraMonifah Cooper, Fullsail University New Media Journalism Student)

Here is where you’ll find many of those known as the caretakers of the land as from sunrise to sunset there is always a hand in the soil preparing for the next rains or reaping. Young and old assist in the work and also in the enjoyment of celebration when it’s time. Along with technology that has made it’s way into this community, you will also see random children running around the market playing games made of everyday items like basketball with cardboard water boxes or baseball with sticks and stones. Even a simple game of tag transforms groups of youth into flashes of color and happy sound as they run by.

Husband and wife farmers working together are a normal site to expect at the bi-weekly market.

Estate Bordeaux, St. Thomas, VI (April 12 2015) Husband and wife, Ras Kiddus and Selah, stand proudly together. Selah said she only takes photos together with her husband displaying a perfect example of the type of family unity seen in the Bordeaux Mountains during the bi-weekly farmers market. Local farmers host a bi-weekly Estate Bordeaux Farmers’ Market on the Western most part of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The family friendly markets exist in a lush natural environment where healthy and homegrown food, fun, music and other entertainment are enjoyed by visitors. (Photo by DaraMonifah Cooper, Fullsail University New Media Journalism Student)

Here is where local families are found singing, dancing before, during and after they sell or trade their produce with each other and visitors that may appear. Decades of memories and traditions color the stalls high-lit with red, yellow and green as well as African symbols, sayings and faces.

A relaxing trip to the Bordeaux Farmers’ Market on a bi-weekly basis tends to leave smiles on the faces of many and lighter souls return to their homes after sunset every other Sunday from the hills of Bordeaux, on St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. “A long ride for long life,” as We Grow Food, Inc. co-host Empress Shaca, proudly shares during their weekly radio show.

Many Opportunities to learn Virgin Islands History in V.I. History Month

A number of entertaining cultural activities helped to close off another highly educational Virgin Islands History Month this March. Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina, Director of the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) V.I. Caribbean Cultural Center (VICCC), supported them all with her presence and participation.

Photho by DaraMonifah | Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina sharing Caribbean publications at the V.I. Literary Festival and Book Fair.

Photo by DaraMonifah | Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina sharing Caribbean publications at the V.I. Literary Festival and Book Fair.

In 2005, a legislative bill supporting the teaching of V.I. history in the classroom was approved. This month the community was able to learn more about their local history outside of the classroom.

Photo by DaraMonifah Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina speaking at the Posthumous 100th Birthday Celebratio of Queen Mother Delta M. Dorsch

Photo by DaraMonifah Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina speaking at the Posthumous 100th Birthday Celebratio of Queen Mother Delta M. Dorsch

On St. Thomas, where the Hubert Harrison play was premiered, to St. Croix where the UVI Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair hosted multiple international authors, publishers, playwrights and others. Three notable Virgin Islanders were highlighted throughout the month for their contributions to V.I., Caribbean and world history on a whole inclusive of Dr. Yosef ben Jochannon, Delta Jackson Dorch and Hubert Harrison.

Whether she’s sharing a testimony on the senate floor (video ) to supporting the enactment of bills about important Virgin Islanders (legislative bill honoring Virgin Islander Dr. Yosef ben Yochannan), or her brief appearances at local events (video: Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina speaks at honoring for Delta Dorch), Dr. Kahina’s work takes her not only throughout the Virgin Islands, Caribbean and U.S., but to other parts of the world as she proudly shares and garners support for the VICCC. Reflecting on the importance of V. I. History month Dr. Kahina stated, “Virgin Islands History is a cornerstone component that strengthens and maintains the culture, heritage and traditions of the people of the Virgin Islands and wider Caribbean.”

In an email, Dr. Kahina wrote, “As the global community respectfully observes the United Nations designated International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD) January 2015 to December 2024, and our local community prepares to commemorate and ‘celebrate’ the centennial anniversary of Transfer Day on March 31st, 1917 from the Danish West Indies to the Virgin Islands of the United States of America, the culture and cultural identity of the Virgin Islands remains influx and intrinsically linked to Virgin Islands history and narratives that are featured annually in March during V.I. History Month observances, commemorations and celebrations.”

Photo by DaraMonifah Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina sitting in Savage Theater supporting the  Hubert Harrison play

Photo by DaraMonifah Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina sitting in Savage Theater supporting the Hubert Harrison play

“V.I. History is evolving as the achievements and contributions of outstanding Virgin Islanders continues to be exposed, researched, published and shared widely.  It is time for V.I. culture, history, heritage and educational resources to be respectfully integrated into global socio-cultural institutions.”

Jeffrey Perry, author of Hubert Harrison’s Biography and the “Hubert H. Harrison Papers,” shared his perspective of the significance in V.I. History when sharing his findings as a distinguished keynote presenter at the V.I Literary Festival and Book Fair. “Hubert Harrison is the only person in United States history to play leading roles in the largest class radical movement and the largest race radical movement of his era. As a radical activist he was extraordinary.”

Photo by DaraMonifah Author Jeffrey Perry attending the Hubert Harrison play on St. Croix, VI Directed by David Edgecombe

Photo by DaraMonifah Author Jeffrey Perry attending the Hubert Harrison play on St. Croix, VI Directed by David Edgecombe

“He (Harrison) was the foremost black organizer, agitator and theoretician in the socialist party around 1912. According to Perry, “Hubert Harrison introduced Marcus Garvey with his first Harlem crowd.”

For more information on these or other outstanding Virgin Islanders, Dr. Kahina can be reached online via email at viccc@myuvi.net or visitors can go to the website www.viccc.net.

The Fruit of V.I. Agriculture in Good Hands: Profiles of Local Leaders – Dr. Louis E. Petersen Jr.

DaraMonifah.theArtist

The Fruit of V.I. Agriculture in Good Hands with Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr. and Commissioner Carlos Robles – Part One | Petersen’s story
By DaraMonifah Cooper

Dr. Petersen with UVI President Hall during AgFair Opening Ceremony Dr. Petersen with UVI President Hall during AgFair Opening Ceremony


Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr.
is a born and raised U.S. Virgin Islands leader whose life-long passion for agriculture has led to an exemplary career which has helped him to blaze a trail of successes that promise to be continued in his latest role at the University of the Virgin IslandsCooperative Extension Service (UVICES).

As described by Dr. Petersen, the story that led him on the path to agriculture began in 1975 during the longest teachers strike in the history of the Virgin Islands. He was a student at the Charlotte Amalie High School and along with other students, didn’t agree with staying at home. Although there were no teachers…

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The Fruit of V.I. Agriculture in Good Hands: Profiles of Local Leaders – Dr. Louis E. Petersen Jr.

The Fruit of V.I. Agriculture in Good Hands with Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr. and Commissioner Carlos Robles – Part One | Petersen’s story
By DaraMonifah Cooper

Dr. Petersen sitting with UVI President Hall and Dr. Marilym Brathwaite Hall during the STT-STJ AgFair Opening Ceremony

Dr. Petersen sitting with UVI President Hall and Dr. Marilym Brathwaite Hall during the STT-STJ AgFair Opening Ceremony


Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr.
is a born and raised U.S. Virgin Islands leader whose life-long passion for agriculture has led to an exemplary career which has helped him to blaze a trail of successes that promise to be continued in his latest role at the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service (UVICES).

As described by Dr. Petersen, the story that led him on the path to agriculture began in 1975 during the longest teachers strike in the history of the Virgin Islands. He was a student at the Charlotte Amalie High School and along with other students, didn’t agree with staying at home. Although there were no teachers in the classroom, what they did was to start an agricultural club at the school. They gradually got support from various sources, including from Cyril Emanuel King, the Governor at the time. King came to visit with them and expressed his love and encouragement for what they were doing. According to Dr. Petersen, when Governor King came, “the following day we got all the tools that we needed that we didn’t have.”

Dr. Petersen with Charlotte Amalie High School Future Farmers of America

Dr. Petersen with Charlotte Amalie High School Future Farmers of America

Reminiscing, Dr. Petersen shared that, “In the summer time, Governor King employed us through the youth commission, which was the ultimate encouragement. Petersen reports that when they were finished with school, they left and studied. In between his studies, Petersen came home to seek employment. For a semester, he worked for Extension Service. “That’s where my love, my familiarity with the role of the Extension Service office became apparent,” he explained. When he returned home from school, he continued to work at the Extension Service office.

In 1992, after first being a UVICES student worker and then Agent, Dr. Petersen was promoted to the position of UVICES District Supervisor. Three years later he became the U.S. V. I. Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture, then returned to UVICES as the District Supervisor, only to be promoted to U.S. V. I. Commissioner of Agriculture in 2007.

During the last eight years in his most reputable role as U.S. V. I. Commissioner of Agriculture, he said that he experienced “an extremely challenging but fulfilling eight years.” He reiterated, “There was no plan that was laid out for us when we started so we weren’t sure what to follow. Having gone through the full circle of thinking it through, sitting with staff, sitting with farmers devising a plan and then putting that plan in to action and seeing many parts of the plan be fulfilled,” Dr. Petersen explained how he lead the team that chalked up another great accomplishment for the Territory.

Expounding upon the same topic, Dr. Petersen said, “We are a territory that has been overlooked so many times by the National agency of agriculture and the USDA. Because of that we often times have not been considered or included in programs.” He added that two of those examples are the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which was made law in 2004, and the Farmers Market Promotion Program grant which was authorized in 1976.

Petersen Back at Work with CES speaks to NSF Grant Workshop Presenter Research Development Consultant Lucy Deckard

Petersen Back at Work with CES speaks to NSF Grant Workshop Presenter Research Development Consultant Lucy Deckard

He continued, “We took two of those eight years fighting a battle back and forth with correspondences, teleconferences and everything else before we were finally given the status of being eligible. That I feel was a great accomplishment because in my recollection we’ve never before challenged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include us in programs that we were not eligible for. Subsequently, funding from that program was used in many areas including the fruit orchard establishment project which is now territory-wide.”

On the Farmers Market Promotion Program grant, Dr. Petersen shared, “We fought five years out of the eight years for the second one and only in 2012 did we become eligible. It was a great accomplishment and milestone in our history. Because of those two victories the territory is now eligible for more funding for agricultural development.”

“The two primary local agencies in the territory that work on behalf of and in support of farmers are indeed the (V.I.) Department of Agriculture and the UVI land grant program, meaning the Extension Service and Experiment Station, so we have always worked together,” shared Dr. Petersen. “I cannot think of one initiative in which we didn’t collaborate.”

He went on to say, “At the (V.I.) Department of Agriculture, our mandate was very broad whether it was outreach and policy establishment however with the Extension Service program our mandate is informal education to the farming clientele.”

Dr. Petersen and Carlos Robles on "What's Going on @UVICES" with hosts (DaraMonifah Cooper - capturing photo) and Christina Chanes

Dr. Petersen and Carlos Robles on “What’s Going on @UVICES” with hosts (DaraMonifah Cooper – capturing photo) and Christina Chanes

Commissioner Designee Carlos Robles, shared the same sentiment in the way the two agencies work hand-in-glove together. He expressed how long he has been learning from Dr. Petersen’s example from as far back as their school days attending Charlotte Amalie High when he first learned about the agriculture club that Petersen had played a major role in starting. In terms of how he sees the offices working together he made it clear that UVICES always plays a mandatory role in the success of the (V.I.) Department of Agriculture’s goals. “Informing farmers on how to work more efficiently and effectively is where we will be leaning on UVICES,” he added.

When asked how he feels about returning to UVICES, Dr. Petersen proudly stated, “I find myself continuing in many respect what we began and working for the same goal and the same clientele, but from another perspective.”

To be continued…
Keep following this blog, facebook, twitter and instagram for stories on Ag Commissioner Carlos Robles and We Grow Food, Inc. President Elridge “Sparks” Thomas

For more information email dcooper@uvi.edu.

Happy National Agriculture Day Virgin Islands!

My website focuses on various parts of Virgin Islands culture and my efforts to encourage more pride in our people, our history and our way of life. Through interviews with local culture bearers, artists, educators and others who help to preserve our culture I hope to assist with increasing our Virgin Islands pride on a variety of levels.

In the middle of doing research for providing content by request to a school teacher on local Virgin Islanders, this week I’m focused on learning and sharing more about our agriculture leaders. I’m choosing these experts because of their ongoing leadership in the area of local agriculture. I think they each have valuable insight and also possibly some solutions from their experiences both on the government side of things as well as first hand as farmers.

My experts this week are the V.I. Commissioner of Agriculture who works alongside the Assistant Director of Agriculture for UVICES as well as one of the most well respected farmers and beekeepers here (who also is the President of the most successful farming organization on St. Thomas). Over the past two weeks, I’ve shared dialogue with each of them on a variety of topics.

The three experts that I’m considering interviewing are all noted locally as individuals who are highly respected and experienced in the area of agriculture in the Virgin Islands. Having just switched places after our last election, the Commissioner and District Supervisor have no real online source for finding out information about them in their positions. I’ve searched and either their websites have been deactivated or aren’t yet updated. The most that exists for each in terms on an online presence is their facebook pages which I’ve provided links to below.

I hope to provide a permanent location online for their profiles, giving them their flowers while they are still here with us in their prime. I will also be uploading to a SoundCloud.com account the 1-hour long audio interview I conducted on National Agriculture Day 2015. Until then, what follows is the basic information that I obtained from speaking with each of them and researching what little else there is thus far to find of them online.

1. Carlos Robles, VI Commissioner of Agriculture (present) | OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE

Credentials: 

Experience:

  • UVICES District Supervisor
  • UVICES Extension Specialist – Horticulture
  • UVICES Extension Agent – Horticulture
  • UVICES Student Worker

Related News Articles: Article 1 | Article 2

In our local online media news source, Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp, “laid out his strategy for revamping the Department of Agriculture, which he has picked Carlos Robles to lead.” In that article (Article 2 hyper-linked above) Governor Mapp said, “…Robles, a Corporate Extension Service professor at the University of the Virgin Islands and local agriculture expert, is the man to make that happen.”

2. Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr., UVI Cooperative Extension Service Assistant Director of Agriculture and Natural Resources/District Supervisor (present) OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE

Credentials: 

Experience:

  • VI Commissioner of Agriculture (2007-2014)
  • UVICES District Supervisor (1999-2007)
  • VI Assistant Commissioner of Agriculture (1995-1999)
  • UVICES District Supervisor (1992-1995)
  • UVICES Agent (1992-1995)
  • UVICES Student Worker

Related News Articles: Article 1 | Article 2Article 3

3. Elridge “Sparks” Thomas, President of We Grow Food, Inc., Local farmers organization OFFICIAL FACEBOOK PAGE

Credentials: Unknown

  • Successful business owner
  • Farmer of the Year (multiple years)
  • Beekeeper
  • UVICES Agriculture Education Client (multiple years)

Experience:

  • President, We Grow Food, Inc.
  • Employee of the VI Department of Agriculture
  • Numerous community awards and recognition related to the field of Agriculture

    Related News Articles: Article 1 | Article 2

UVI’s VILitFest Turns a Page on Literacy Closing Women’s History Month

vilitfest-sq-logoTHOMAS, UNITED VIRGIN ISLANDS — During Women’s History Month, the first Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair (VILitFest) highlighting literacy, local authors, and world literature at schools and the Golden Grove Correctional Facility, will take place from March 26 to 29. Local and regional award-winning authors, editors and publishers to be featured, include Virgin Islander Tiphanie Yanique, Jamaica Kincaid and Malaika Adero.

“Embracing Literacy for Life,” this year’s theme will be experienced all around the isle of St. Croix before, during and after the fair, especially on Thursday, March 26, in The Great Hall on the Albert A. Sheen campus of the University of the Virgin Islands. The Festival’s opening will provide an opportunity for festival-goers to meet with organizers, sponsors, scholars and the vast list of authors.

Featured writers will visit the local prison and schools to discuss their work and the importance of literacy. School children are also invited to attend various events in order to participate in workshops and interact directly with the authors, according to Stephanie Nugent-Hanlon, VILitFest webmaster, journalist and writer by trade and education.

The Caribbean Dance Company will perform a dance interpretation of Marvin Williams’ “Heirs,” the UVI Steel Band Ensemble will entertain, and “The Skin,” a film written and produced by Howard Allen, will have its debut.

St. Thomas-born fiction writer and winner of the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize for her novel “Land of Love and Drowning,” Tiphanie Yanique, will share about her award-winning book. Described as “a love letter to the Virgin Islands, both the land and spirit of the place,” in the Los Angeles Review of Books it chronicles the saga of a St. Thomas family through three generations from 1916 to 1970.

Currently a professor at the University of the Virgin Islands, editor, university lecturer, communications consultant and small business owner, Jamaican-born Gillian Royes, is also one of the featured presenters.

“A veteran of the book publishing industry for 30 plus years,” said Malaika Adero, introducing herself as an independent publishing consultant, editor and writer who will also be featured and participating in one of the panels. In a phone interview, she expressed her perspective of the importance of storytelling to all forms of presentation in various genres. According to Adero, her cultural events magazine, HomeSliceMagazine.com is, “a space for me to share with you the new and provocative ideas, art and culture I hear about — sometimes in advance—from my role as an artist, cultural worker and in the book publishing industry.”

Heralded as the ‘most important West Indian woman writing today,’ Jamaica Kincaid, will also make a featured presentation.

On the Saturday evening, a ‘Book Bacchanal’ featuring cultural performances, book signings and a Poetry Slam will be held. Author and biographer of legendary Crucian writer and activist Hubert Harrison, Jeffrey Perry will deliver the keynote address as well as make a presentation.

On Sunday, March 29, led by National Park Superintendent Joel Tutein, participants will be treated to a literary island tour beginning in the Christiansted Historic District and ending at the Frederiksted Fort.

The event is being hosted by the University of the Virgin Islands College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Sponsors include the VI Department of Tourism, Innovative Companies and The Caribbean Writer. For more information, visit the official website or its Spanish version.

CLICK HERE to view Map of Event Locations

@TiphanieYanique with #MajestikFreedom of @SankofaSaturdays Youth Initiative at the book signing. #TuneIn tomorrow from 4-6pm @WUVIAM1090

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Insight on the Grassroots Intellectual Experience: The Triumphs and Struggles – Part One

Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina | Mother, Educator, Culture Preservationist, Spiritual Leader +

Sometimes when you’ve gone a distance in one direction, you realize that bringing along what you learned in the other direction will take you further and that actually, they both not only lead to the same place, but are a necessary balance of each other.

Multi-disciplinary educator, cultural performing artist, naturopathic therapist, ordained minister, community developer, scholar and visionary, Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina’s story would fill bookshelves, but she’s probably burned the books. Instead she just writes them with each step and publishes new volumes with every new day. Her grassroots related experiences have taught her things that experiential learning explain best. A type of ‘common’ sense usually expected from the street, while her background in the halls of academia have her at an exceptional advantage above others who focus only on one specific area of expertise.

“Essentially because of the work that I do, sometimes the integration and the synergy is exceptional, and then other times it seems like there’s resistance…” Dr. Kahina

Per Ankh, Inc. is a charitable and spiritually centered non-government organization (NGO) and non-profit organization (NPO) “livicated to providing educational, cultural, environmental, social, holistic health & wellness, artistic, spiritual & other naturalistic resources and supports that positively contribute to the comprehensive improvement & sustainable development of our local, national and global communities.”

The University of the Virgin Islands V. I. and Caribbean Culture Center (VICCC) is designated to produce, develop and institute state-of-the-art research, publications, mixed media networks and programs, regional and international conferences, collaborative initiatives, academic and community partnerships, interdisciplinary cultural exchanges, socioeconomic development and heritage tourism events, educational resources and more.

As the primary Director of both entities as well as the leader of a number of others, Dr. Chen, as she’s often compassionately called has the opportunity to merge so much of her prior grassroots life experience prior to working at the University of the Virgin Islands in her current capacity as Director of the VICCC as well as the Center for the Study of Spirituality and Professionalism (CSAP).

When asked about how she balances the two, Dr. Kahina responds thoughtfully. “There’s a synergy that exists between culture, spirituality, the arts and technology that my work at the UVI gives me an opportunity to lend over to CSAP and the VICCC into what I do which Per Ankh and Smai Tawi, CPAN, PADU and a host of other global activities…” Dr. Chenzira Davis Kahina

“In all things Pan African, conduct oneself with character, courtesy and common sense.”

Sixth Region Diaspora Caucus (SRDC) Practicing Ma’at in Organizing the African Diaspora By David L. Horne, Ph.D.

Q: What would you suggest for approaching and responding to schools that ask for Black History presentations when you know they’re only asking you to come in because it’s Black History Month:

A: Dr. Kahina simply suggested a wealth of online sites that have related information made available in an ongoing everyday way. This way, the resources could be shared with students in a way that is easy to access and always available. She explained that this is important so that they can see that Black History is all the time and it is World history, not just information that is useful to one set of people.

We also discussed that one can’t really speak about Virgin Islands history without knowing and showing that it is Caribbean history.

Q: What do you think the students can contribute as well as learn at the same time… they can’t share what they don’t know so they have to be taught then encouraged to share with others.

A: They can go to various resources locally including people and places like our campus and public libraries, the Digital Library of the Caribbean as well as various offices like our Virgin Islands Council on the Arts and V. I. Humanities Council.

Learn more about experiences with the community that make it challenging to want to keep giving as well as the small triumphs that make all the sacrifices worth it in Part Two of Insight on the Grassroots Intellectual Experience: The Triumphs and Struggles with Dr. Chenzira Kahina and others.