St Lucia’s Green Innovators: Green Haven Fresh Farm
by Karen Rollins Aug 12, 2019
Green innovator Jameson Alphonse has been farming in Bois d’Inde, Choiseul since 2010.
Mr Alphonse grows tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in two greenhouses and is certified to supply fast-food chain KFC. So, when his biggest customer also wanted him to provide lettuce, he decided to try a new farming method to overcome the challenge of droughts and low water supply.
“I did a lot of research and read quite a few books on aquaponics. I found it fascinating,” Mr Alphonse recalls.
“I believe in working smart and using innovation. Aquaponics is organic, uses recycled water and less water and it was easy to grow lettuce and quickly increase yield.”
Aquaponics is a sustainable farming method which combines aquaculture (raising fish) and the soil-less growing of plants known as hydroponics. Waste from the fish provides nutrients for the plants and water is recirculated in a closed system.
In 2016, Mr Alphonse installed four fish tanks and 10 vertical vegetable beds stacked on top of each other, supplied by an 80,000-gallon rainwater harvesting system.
Green Haven now cultivates 12,000 tilapia fish and produces 5,000 heads of lettuce every month.
The farm has also been recognised by the St Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture with three awards including the Prime Minister’s Award for Innovation.
Mr Alphonse says: “I’m happy with how it’s coming along, even though there was a lot of trial and error in the beginning and many challenges.
“Once I have all the funding I need, and the farm is at full capacity and functioning well, I should be able to produce lettuce all year round.”
Financing has been Mr Alphonse’s biggest challenge. He has primarily funded the farm using personal loans and grants from the Inter-American Institution for Cooperation on Agriculture and still works full-time as a business analyst.
But he believes in his project and even hopes aquaponics can be beneficial for St Lucia in the future by cutting the food import bill and producing healthy and organic food all year round.
For more stories on St Lucia’s ‘Green’ innovators and ways you can go green in 2019, make sure you grab a copy of the new Find Yello St Lucia phone directory – available now!