While on St. Croix, don’t miss out on the opportunity to visit a farmer’s market and pick out some locally grown fruits (and vegetables). The ‘farm belt’ of St. Croix, as well as the rainforest of the West End, afford the island a vast diversity of tropical fruits for you to choose from. To give you an idea of the extent of the diversity, there are over 80 varieties of mangoes alone grown in the Virgin Islands! Some other popular fruits grown here on the island include: coconut, carambola (starfruit), guava, passion fruit, papaya, soursop, sugar apples, banana figs, genips, tamarind, avocado, pomegranate, and breadfruit. St. Croix also produces some amazing vegetables and herbs including a variety of greens from hydroponic lettuce to bok choy, basil, lemongrass, moringa, sweet potatoes, peppers, cucumber, and many different kinds of squash.
While I personally believe that no trip to the Caribbean is complete without sampling the local tropical fruit, you will also enjoy the experience of shopping at the farmer’s market itself. Like many destinations, buying your produce straight from the farmers and growers is a great way to experience some local culture and learn a lot about the local food scene. I can personally attest to the fact that the grower’s will gladly help you pick out your produce based on when you plan to eat it, and will also tell you the best way to eat or prepare the fruits or vegetables you choose. The farmers will also let you sample their goods, and I have found that they especially like to give people a sample of something they have never tasted and see their reaction. In fact, my last trip to the farmer’s market included my sampling a chocolate sapote for the first time. The chocolate sapote (or ‘pudding fruit’) is a large green fruit that, when fully ripened, has a brown, custardy inside that tastes like unsweetened chocolate.
Whether you are visiting St. Croix, or you are a resident, take advantage of the numerous farm stands and farmer’s markets the island offers. Not only will you get the freshest produce available, but you will truly be supporting the local economy. The farmer’s markets of St. Croix offer not only locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables, but also herbs, bush tea, honey, jams, and more. So, make sure you pick up some locally grown fruits so that you can taste some of the ‘Nature’s candy’ St. Croix has to offer! For a list of local farm stands and farmer’s markets, click here.– Jennie Ogden, Editor