Yesterday marked the first day of the academic rotation. Campus said au revoir to the Tourism and Development group as they embarked on their four-day trip down island, then again waved goodbye to the marine ecology students as they dipped into the water for their first experience with an underwater classroom. The food systems group took to the road to visit Apple Hole Farm in Rock Sound. Apple Hole is run by Edrin, a local Eleutheran, who has been successfully farming his land for the past twenty-nine years. His farm is 300-acres and is primarily geared towards raising livestock and growing citrus fruits. Edrin’s main farming practice is known as propagation, which is the process of attaching a bud from one plant on to the root of a previously grown plant. Before going to visit his livestock, Edrin showed us the propagation process by attaching the bud of an orange tree to the base root of a saw orange tree. Edrin supplies The Island School and Rock Sound Market with all sorts of meat and citrus fruits. On our way back to campus, just before lunch, we were lucky enough to taste some of the mangoes, oranges, and tangerines off of Edrin’s farm. We can both attest to the fact that his fruit is delicious!
After lunch, we went to visit another local farm that grows more vegetables and fruits, and utilizes an entirely different technique of farming known as slash and burn. Both farms that we visited employ practices of permaculture, a way of farming that encourages a sustainable ecosystem and benefits human ecosystems. Using practices of permaculture, both farms are able to successfully function in the harsh climate and difficult soil of South Eleuthera.
Following the day we had a delicious dinner at school where the marine ecology and food systems groups were able to catch up and share their experiences. All students attended a talk by CEI deepwater researcher, Mackey. She has been doing research at CEI for over a year now and recently found a new species of isopod. Mackey emphasized how little of the deep sea is known to researchers and inspired us students to learn more about it’s ecosystem. She brought with her two preserved isopods and a preserved eel, which is actually a parasite that attacks a shark’s heart. After the talk, it was off to study hours and then back to the dorms to check in and catch up on some much needed sleep to fuel us for the busy day that followed!