To St. John, with Love

When I first asked Josephine for a job she said no.

I waited a week and went back.

The second time I asked Josephine for a job, she looked me up and down and said, “can you squat?”. I responded “yes” without hesitation, thrown off by her frankness.

She put scissors in my hand and led me back to the farm. She told me to fill a bucket with greens.

So, I squatted down low, took my scissors and started trimming the greens that surrounded me; baby tat soi, baby bok choy, leafy greens, mustard greens, greens I’d never seen. It took me some time waddling around like a creature low to the ground trimming all the bounty that surrounded me to fill up the bucket, but when I did I turned to Josephine, bucket in hand and I asked her what was next.

She cackled loud! “I did not think a tall girl like you could squat! And you’re not too slow! I still want to make sure we make sense before I hire you, but for now you can fill another bucket”.

And so it was for the next 6 months, Josephine let me continue filling up buckets with her spectacular greens.

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Josephine is one of the most remarkable humans I’ve ever had the opportunity to work for. She is strong and smart and has spent almost every day for the last 30 years growing food on the little island of St. John. Josephine’s farm sits on one of the only wells on the island, making it possible for her to irrigate the only mass producing farm on St. John. She taught me how to grow microgreens, how to make kimchi with all the excess tatsoi, how to perfectly bag up greens so they didn’t get soggy, how to landscape pineapples, how to harvest sugar cane and lemon grass, how to put love into the food you’re growing, and then how to extend that love through an entire community regardless of the acknowledgement or appraisal.

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St. John was one of the most significant steps I took toward getting to where I am today. In addition to being witness to the extension of love through the food you grew, I was witness to a greek family with roots build and open a greek food truck called Little Olive.

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This family of four worked unbelievably hard to bring their family recipes to the locals and visitors of St. John. They used Josephine’s produce creating a symbiotic relationship between food, and people, and the little island. The experience I had of taking part in both farm and truck shaped a large amount of the ideology I have today that helps me navigate this new world of Wilde Thyme. I saw what was possible when a few people chose love as their navigating force to run their business, and the impact it could have.

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To St. John, to Josephine, and to the Little Olive family. You’re love is what will re-grow your St. John, and it will come back tenfold.

And to all the Baltimoreans reading this, consider donating to the hurricane relief through the St. John Community Foundation and St. John Rescue.

An additional article to read about Irma’s impact on St. John is here.

“Before Hurricane Irma hit the continental United States, it had already affected at least 100,000 Americans. Not tourists visiting islands. Just 100,000 Americans, living in America’s paradise, the United States Virgin Islands.”

 

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