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Cochrane
All Year: Yes
Area (ha): 4+
Persons: 1-4
Category: Organic Farmstay
Host ID: 54595
Country: Dominica

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Last Updated: March 3, 2020

ROOTS FARM, DOMINICA, WORK EXCHANGE OPPORTUNITY

Not certified but using organic standards, on Sept. 17, 2017, Roots Farm was growing diverse fruits, roots, vegetables and herbs at two lovely mountainside locations in Cochrane, Dominica for predominantly retail sales within Dominica. After a decade and a half of investment --mostly 80 hour weeks and all of our savings -- and despite severe setbacks from 2015 TS Erica landslides, the farm’s future finally looked bright and right around the corner. The fruit trees were poised for their first commercially successful year (avocados in Oct., citrus Nov-March, cocoa, soursop, sugar apple, mangosteen, pineapples and many more varieties at their respective natural times throughout the year). Large plantings of root crops (yams, dasheen, tannias) looked good for Dec-Feb. harvest and sales. Vegetables and herbs were still in the ground, but were to be phased out in favor of the incoming fruit and root crops.

Then, Sept. 18, 2017, Category 5+ Hurricane Maria did its slow but furious dance down the spine of Dominica and wiped everything out in 10 terrifying hours. Most houses on the island suffered damage, most roofs gone, so many houses gone. Island infrastructure, roads, bridges, airports, sea ports, electricity, telephone (both cell and landline) gone. Commercial establishments gone. Farms and animals gone. Rainforest gone. Food gone. Pipe water gone. People gone.

On what was our farm, almost every mature fruit tree was felled, ripped out by the roots. Smaller trees and plants were spun by the force of the wind, destroying the roots. The equivalent of approximately 17 acres of interplanted fruit, root, vegetable and herb crops was reduced to rubble. In the past 2+ years since the storm, to have enough income to survive and save whatever possible towards resurrection of the farm, we have focused on short term crops/income. Other casualties of the storm -- the destruction of the market and infrastructure, the flight of some and impoverishment of many of the people and gutting of the economy, the lack of refrigeration and communications and more -- has kept such income down to barely covering short term expense and we have so far been unable to finance the bigger task of rebuilding the farm. The Government, facing monumental challenges on all fronts, is working to marshall aid for farmers but, such aid basically takes the form of support for monocultures based on chemical inputs.

Work exchange thus is more valuable to us than ever. We need help with clearing and cleaning the land, pruning, planting, pest control, marketing, and more….basically all phases of farm operation. Familiarity with organic/natural farming and permaculture prized. We also need help fixing our house (still damaged from the storm) so good carpentry/building skills/experience/interest a blessing. Anything distasteful can be turned down as there’s plenty else to do.

For skilled, experienced folks who can live 100% without fragrances, tobacco and other toxics, we offer a bedroom in the fully furnished/equipped, healthy (and nice) 2 bedroom apartment in the ground floor of our house. Electricity, water, cooking gas, wifi included.

We are happy to share fresh vegetables, roots, herbs & fruits grown on farm, as available and not needed for market. Nonfarm items your responsibility and you'd be preparing/enjoying your own meals.

We expect from you:
* 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, but has lots of books.

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

We would prefer 2-4 volunteers, 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. The apartment would comfortably accommodate 2 couples. Your anticipated stay here should be no less than 3-4 weeks but could stretch out longer. Shorter schedule for tropics-acclimated, ag experienced folks also possible.

The farm and house are located in a rain forested area approximately 1600-1700’ up. We enjoy a breezy, cooler climate than the coastal lands below. Dominica is green again and with fewer trees, has even more breathtaking views of its rugged terrain and the sea. It is different than it was preMaria, but beautiful, mostly wild, healthy, safe. Still economically challenged though and still frustratingly disrupted at times. Great music and 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 is owned and operated by my partner Roy, a native Dominican, and myself, originally from western MA, U.S., but living in Dominica for the past 22+ years. 3 dogs and 1 cat make up rest of our family.

If interested, do some initial research re Dominica, then to ensure best fit for all and that no one’s time is wasted, please reply including:
*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 you would want your time here to start and end
* What else you would like to know about us, the farm or Dominica

And, if you just want a relaxing vacation, a description & pictures of the apartment and yard and our rates are listed on our facebook page, see our Facebook page: RootsFarmGuestApartment.

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