Summer Solitude: Fruit Lovers’ Paradise, Zika Recommendations

Planning a getaway for next winter or maybe a beachy summer break? Don’t postpone joy, come down and see us this wonderful tropical time of year!

Summer 2016 is shaping up to be a beautiful one for visitors. While last summer we experienced record-breaking drought, we had plenty of rain in May of this year so the trees and gardens are beautiful and green and verdant. Valeria continues to expand her orchid collection on the trees around the property, and many are in bloom.

In general, summer is a great time to experience the island of St. Croix as locals do. Stores and restaurants are happy to serve customers, the throngs of tourists and snowbirds are gone, and people are relaxed and enjoying family life. You may have to plan a little more carefully for some sites and tours, as summer hours for some attractions may be limited. But it’s a small price to pay for enjoying this wonderful season of the year in the Virgin Islands. 

Summer is the prime season for enjoying flowers and local fruit. If you love tasting new things, plan to come in July this year for the 20th annual Mango Melee festival at the Botanical Garden! During the summer, farmers’ markets will feature delectible treats such as soursop, many kinds of mangoes and plums, tiny fat fingered bananas, pineapples, genip fruits, dragonfruit, local cherries, jackfruit, sugar apple, sapotes, and many other tropical treats that are too delicate to be exported.

The Zika virus has been in the headlines this year. Unfortunately, it is recommended that young adults who are pregnant or trying to conceive a baby soon should avoid travel to Zika-affected areas, including the Caribbean and Latin America. The good news is, the risks are lower for other people. Exposure to the virus can be easily limited with a few precautions for all other travelers, and 80% of people who contract the virus have no symptoms at all. We wanted to share this article from NPR that gives a lot of detail on the risks, and the best way to avoid catching Zika

Come and enjoy the calm and quiet summer beaches. In summertime the days are long and sunny, the waves are generally calmer, making conditions ideal for snorkeling or scuba diving for taking a boat out to Buck Island! 

Call Valeria today and make a reservation to come and enjoy a tranquil summer stay – or your next winter’s vacation – at Longford Hideaway! (340)773-2386

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ARTfarm Farmstand Summer Hours!

It is officially summer and ARTfarm is open on Wednesday afternoons 3-6pm and Saturday mornings, 10am – 12 noon. Check the ARTfarm website or Facebook page, to see what’s growing now! Summer is the season for mangoes, papayas, passionfruit and other tropical fruits, as well as sweet corn, kale and collards, cucumbers, fresh herbs and salad greens!20140623-112911-41351831.jpg

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Regarding the Chikungunya virus in the USVI…

We have had a few people contact us about their vacation reservations, in light of the mosquito-borne illness called chikungunya that has been making headlines. The way we all know the media can sensationalize things, you would think we had a major health crisis in the islands! While it is important to be cognizant of these advisories, here in the US Virgin Islands this virus is still generally a mild illness that is easily preventable, and here at Longford Hideaway and ARTfarm where we live and work we’ve had ZERO cases!

We’d like to share a summary of the information from the US Federal and Territorial Health Departments along with links to the health advisories, for anyone concerned about chikungunya while visiting St. Croix.

According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), chikungunya is a virus that, in otherwise healthy people, causes a mild-to-uncomfortable flu-like illness that starts 3-7 days after receiving a bite from an infected “indoor” type mosquito, and lasts about a week with symptoms such as fever and joint pain. It is NOT known to be fatal or permanently harmful, and usually confers future immunity on most people who contract it.

That said, the US Virgin Islands Department of Health has put out an advisory regarding cases of chikungunya virus reported in the US Virgin Islands. However, since this advisory was published, the VI Daily News has reported that up to three possible cases have been reported on St. Thomas.

Because chikungunya has been reported in the mainland U.S., we figure that we are no likelier than any other warm place in the world that is visited by tourists-who-fly-on-planes, to have an outbreak. It’s been nice and breezy at Longford, and that sends the little guys packing!

Our rentals at Longford are outfitted with screens on all windows and doors, and ceiling fans in all the rooms. If needed, we can supply our (adult) guests with a mosquito-killing battery-powered “Jolt” tennis racket. It is entertaining, satisfying and effective. Snap, crackle, POP!

After doing a little research, we don’t recommend the bug zapper UV type lights, as  studies at Iowa State University have shown they are ineffective at attracting mosquitoes and even harmful – they don’t attract many mosquitoes, but can spread bacteria and harm the ecosystem by splattering a great number of the bugs that prey on mosquitoes. The ARTfarm depends heavily on beneficial predatory insects to organically control crop-damaging pests, without the use of harmful chemicals! For mosquito control in the farm water reservoirs, we keep a population of mosquito larvae-eating “mosquito fish”.

Here is a link to some of our favorite anti-mosquito spray. We love this stuff because it is preventative, herbal, smells good, works well for us, and is soothing to put on if you forget to apply it and do get a bite. Another effective and less expensive bug repellant we’ve used is coconut oil mixed with vanilla extract.

If you are having any doubts about visiting the Caribbean due to these health advisories, we’d gently remind our guests of the health perils of not getting a relaxing vacation with some vitamin D! And suggest you plan your adventure, and trust that you will have a wonderful time. We live and work here year-round on the property, and we spend lots of time outdoors! Simply keeping your body healthy with fresh chemical-free fruits and vegetables, daily exercise, plenty of water and sufficient sleep will go a long way toward maximizing your immune system’s ability to minimize any pathogens it may encounter during travel. Take the usual precautions you would already take against mosquito bites, and you’ll be just fine!

ARTfarm at Longford – closed for a few weeks

ARTfarm’s farmstand will be closed this Saturday, September 21st 2013, and will remain closed until October 26th. ARTfarm usually closes for a few weeks in early fall, to take advantage of the break that many restaurant clients are taking, to take care of maintenance jobs, and to catch up on seeding crops for the new season. To sign up for ARTfarm email updates and be notified when the farmstand reopens, visit artfarmllc.com and enter your email address in the box on the homepage!