In a rapidly changing world marked by environmental shifts, global supply chain disruptions, and community challenges, the Public Entity of Saba strives to serve as an example of forward-thinking governance. We are dedicated to ensuring not just the survival but the thriving of our community. We understand that long-term resilience starts with food security. This is why we are excited to unfold a comprehensive strategy that focuses on enhancing local food production through three groundbreaking programs: an Animal Feed Initiative, an updated and state-of-the-art Hydroponics Farm, and a first of its kind on Saba, a Mobile Farmers Market Truck. Together, these programs plan to revolutionize how we think about food, from the soil to our tables.
Animal Husbandry: The Feed Initiative
While farming is often idealized for its pastoral settings and earthy activities, animal husbandry is an area that requires much more. That is why we have launched a program focused on the other cornerstone of agriculture: animal rearing. With the Animal Feed Initiative, we strive to create a sustainable ecosystem that nourishes livestock and aids those who provide the island with animal protein.
For many years, our local farmers have been sourcing their animal feed in smaller quantities and at higher costs. This initiative aims to overhaul this inefficient system by leveraging economies of scale. By purchasing feed in bulk from trusted suppliers in Puerto Rico and providing subsidies on both the purchase and shipping, Public Entity is helping to make animal farming a more viable source of income, and not just a labor of love.
Hydroponics: The Green Revolution
Our Hydroponics Farm is an ambitious project that goes beyond conventional farming techniques. It is a convergence of technology and tradition, aimed to meet the specific needs and preferences of our Saban community. This is not just a farm, it is a way forward to a sustainable food solution for our island.
In contrast to its previous iteration, which functioned largely as a showcase model to demonstrate hydroponic capabilities, the revitalized Hydroponics Farm is designed to be a fully operational, demand-driven food production facility. We have heeded the feedback from the previous model and are reorienting the farm’s operations to directly address the community’s needs. While the showcase system will remain in use for seedlings and specialized crops, we have integrated traditional growing systems tailored to the specific demands of our Saba community.
The community can expect a more diversified crop selection, including staples like lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, chosen in direct response to local preferences. Further enhancing its community impact, the new model aims to significantly lower the cost of produce, making fresh, locally-grown food more accessible and affordable for all residents.
To make this vision a reality, we are investing in advanced growing systems. Specifically, three kinds of systems have been ordered to cater to a diverse range of crops—from vine crops like tomatoes and peppers to leafy greens like lettuce. The farm’s design also includes weather-resistant aluminum dome buildings that can double as storage facilities and emergency sanctuaries for the crops.
We’re not doing this alone. This month, we are bringing in hydroponics experts to guide us through the system setup, provide valuable training, and help structure the Mobile Produce Truck and the market at large. By the end of the year, our Hydroponics Farm will not just be functional, it will be a model of sustainable agriculture that can weather storms—both literal and metaphorical.
The Mobile Farmers Market Truck: Freshness on Wheels
In an ideal world, the farmers’ market would not be limited to time or space, it would be an ever-present entity. That’s the thinking behind our Mobile Farmers Market Truck. We are mobilizing the farmers’ market, making fresh, local produce available across the island, when you need it.
By expanding our farmers’ market to a mobile platform, we are creating a more direct link between the farm and your table. This truck will not only feature produce from our Hydroponics Farm but will also offer goods from Hell’s Gate Farm, the farm in the Level, and any local farmer with surplus produce.
Initially, the truck will operate 4-5 times per week in the two main villages of Windwardside and the Bottom. But that’s just the beginning. As demand grows, we plan to extend our services to all villages, ensuring that everyone has access to fresh, affordable food.
Building a Legacy of Food Security
These initiatives represent more than mere programs. They serve as the foundational pillars upon which the Public Entity aims to construct a strong and prosperous future for Saba. We know the vision is not modest. However, we have the goal to create a community that is not only resilient in the face of challenges but also self-sufficient and flourishing in every sense. Achieving this ambitious vision is indeed an enormous task, but it is one that we believe can be realized through collective effort. Together, we can work towards greater food independence, enhanced communal well-being, and a sustainable future that benefits us all.