The on-going COVID-19 pandemic seems to have threatened the food production industry on a global scale; and as such, many Virgin Islanders are now considering: “What if ships are unable to deliver food into the VI?” Thus, the consideration of such possibilities coupled with the Governor’s “Safer at Home” Orders created the opportunity for individuals to spend more time in their homes, which has encouraged increased interest in home gardening throughout the territory. In fact, Backyard farming (and the need for assistance in this area) has been a popular topic for discussion on the various radio talk programs throughout the territory. For this reason, the VI Department of Agriculture has developed a comprehensive Backyard Farmer Development Program to increase access, availability, and awareness of specialty crops grown in the US Virgin Islands.
This project will seek to increase access and awareness of locally grown crops by providing education & technical assistance to (beginning or existing) Backyard Farmers to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown in the USVI.
This project will develop a comprehensive Backyard Farmers Development Program for 50 participants throughout the Territory, who will receive technical assistance in the form of education and resources to aid in growing their crops. The selected participants will receive mandatory courses in Pest Control Management, Plant / Soil Nutrient Management, and Irrigation. Next, once the planted crops have reached fruition and the quality standards are met, VIDA Marketing Division will purchase the crops and feature them as part of the Harvest of the Month program in a Farm to Institution project. This project will seek to encourage and empower the participants through knowledge on how to produce, access, and prepare locally grown specialty crops.
This Backyard Farmers Development Program will seek to achieve the following outcomes:
- Increase access, knowledge and awareness of locally grown produce in the US Virgin Islands relative to its health benefits and nutritional value.
- Increase competitiveness of specialty crops grown in the US Virgin Islands.
- Impact the high import rate of fruits and vegetables.
- Generate revenue for local backyard farmers.
Prospective Participants should meet the following minimum requirements to be eligible for this program:
- Must submit a completed Request for Application by deadline date.
- Space for project activity must be a minimum of 25ft x 25ft and Maximum size of 50ft x 50ft.
- Must have adequate source of water.
APPLICATION DUE DATE : March 1st , 2021
All applications are due by 5:00 PM AST via:
- Hand submission to the Marketing Division at the Department of Agriculture
- or Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
REVIEW AND SELECTION PROCESS
All applications will undergo a competitive review process to select the prospective participants for the Backyard Farmers enhancement program. That is, each application will be evaluated and scored based on a point and rank system. This evaluation will be conducted by a panel of 3 members, who are not associated with the VI Department of Agriculture. Finally, 50 applications (25 for St. Croix district and 25 for St. Thomas/St. John district) with the top scores (per District) will be selected for the project.
For further information about the Backyard Farmers Development program, please contact the Marketing Division at (340) 778-0993 or via email at email@example.com .
Participants will receive education on crop production, technical assistance to produce crops and generate revenue via sale of crops to the VIDA Marketing Division.