Time has flown since the first two blog posts and there’s a lot to talk about!

To begin with, the 11 – 16th of November was Statia Week leading up to Statia Day, a national holiday that commemorates the date in 1776, when Statia became the first foreign land to salute the American fleet and recognize the country’s independence. Statia also adopted a new flag on the same date in 2004. It is a week of celebration, music and performances, and locally produced food and drink. ReforeStatia set up a stall to showcase the project, provide information, and sell plants. It was a success, with lots of people signing up to the newsletter and future community planting days, and it was a great opportunity for the team to meet more of the locals and do some socializing. Roaming goats were a popular debate topic, and lots of people walked away with saplings to plant in their gardens. Positive stuff! 

The were some unfortunate events following Statia Day that were very upsetting for the team. Firstly, the stall was vandalized by someone who snapped off the top of an adult moringa tree and urinated in the saplings. We hope it wasn’t malicious and was just a drunken accident. The same morning, Pippa went to site to water the plants and discovered a break in from cows which had eaten all of the adult moringas and sea grapes that were outside of the shade house. Many of the gum trees surrounding the perimeter of the site had also been pushed down and eaten. This was particularly devastating, as hours of labour, water, and love had gone into growing these trees, and all of it was compromised in one night.

However, in the time since that event, the damaged trees were taken back into the shade house and are now growing better than ever. The team were unsure whether to plant out more adult trees in case of another break in and losing more stock and hours of labour. But with improvements to the fence and gate, there was more confidence in the safety of the trees, and out went 7 new moringas, several new sea grapes, one flamboyant tree, and 4 gum trees! It was a learning experience for Adam and Phil, who are now more determined to safeguard the site and grow more trees! Everything is doing really well out on site, and it’s extremely exciting. Here’s a picture of the regrowth on one of the damaged moringa trees!

Regrowth after the damage
It’s starting to look like a forest in the shade house.
From here, several sea grapes and moringa trees can be seen growing along the path. Lunch could be eaten in the shade of these trees this time next year!

The food forest is starting to fill out, with moringas, sea grapes, squash, and watermelon. The squash is a great companion plant for the moringas, as they fix nitrogen in the soil which moringas are hungry for and benefits them greatly. It’s important to keep a revolving stock of plants – there are now many large plants, but there was a realisation a few weeks back that there weren’t many new seedlings growing. Fast forward to this week and there are now over 300 new moringas, 100 July trees, and 40 sea grapes.

Various people have been very kind and generous in gifting us pumpkin, squash, melon, and guava seeds. The squash around site are doing amazingly well, and it will be extremely rewarding to eventually have fruit growing. Pippa did a count of all the plants on site, and the total is over 1500!

Adam’s Dad, Roger, arrived on the island on November 21st, bringing with him a tonne of energy and delicious European chocolate for the team. Rather than spending his time relaxing and exploring, he has spent every single day working with us on the project. He’s been a truly fantastic volunteer, and in the few weeks he’s been here has managed to install a gate rail; construct a second composting heap so the ready-to-go stuff can be separated with ease; secure the rest of the fencing so it is now cow proof; help with the siting of the new water tank; create bays for organizing the plastic bottles; tidy the container; and build an enclosure for the iguana. And that’s just a fraction of his efforts! Having been in the navy for 30+ years, he has traveled the world and is full of fascinating stories, and also shares Adams love for wildlife. He is wonderful to have around, and it can now be seen where Adam gets his relentless work ethic from!

Our new bottle bays!

As mentioned, an enclosure is being built for the iguana Adam and Phil rescued last month. She has been seen by an off-island vet who prescribed some steroid injections for her eyes. The injured eye is now miraculously back in place, but the other eye still isn’t open and the team aren’t sure if there is any sight or brain damage. She is still waiting for the on island vet to take a look at her – however, she has been in a cat box for too long now, so efforts have been made to build her an outdoor enclosure that will go in the second shade house. She will have more room, fresh air, and some trees to climb. Hopefully she’ll be happier here, her welfare will improve, and we can keep an eye on her every day.

Perris’ new enclosure, in progress.

Thanks to Roger, Jobo and Irvin, the second water tank is now installed at the back end of the site. This will be a huge help when it comes to watering lots of plants that are out of the shade house and in the ground – much more efficient than carrying heavy buckets of water to and from the one water tank, which is a back breaker. We’re very happy about this development! All the infrastructure for running a smooth and efficient reforestation project is falling in to place.

A second water tank installed!

The big update of the blog is that Her Royal Highness Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, also a patron for the DCNA, will be visiting the island on Friday 13th December. She will be stopping by the reforestation project as well as several other projects on the island. The team are looking forward to having a Royal visitor see their work – it’s important to recognize environmental conservation projects such as ReforeStatia, and our environment needs as many people on it’s side as possible.

Lots of planting has been taking place in the shade house. Pictured are:

Below is a nice example of drought tolerant plants such as succulents and cacti, that can concentrate and retain water around their roots. These aloes had not been watered by the team – this was rainwater that the plants had managed to concentrate within themselves. Pretty impressive!

Finally, after months of delays, Adam was able to access a shipping container full of materials, including the long awaited tractor. He’s real happy about it, and has been digging a hole all week for the new infiltration pond. 

A big kid on a bigger toy!

That’s mostly it from the team for now! We wish you the merriest of Christmases and the happiest of New Years, and we’ll post another update once we’re done digesting all of the holiday chocolate, cheese, and rum.