After months of research, consultation and community outreach initiatives — including three community town halls on three islands; focus groups; and surveys distributed to farmers, food retailers; and the general public — the Agricultural Plan Task Force will discuss the findings of the Preliminary Virgin Islands Agricultural Plan for additional public input during a territorywide hybrid town hall from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 23.
The goal of the 2021 Territorial Agricultural Plan is to increase agricultural productivity in an effort to make food security and sovereignty not just labels and catchphrases but a true reflection of the reality of the lives of people in the Virgin Islands.
“This is your plan; the task force is merely the architect,” said University of the Virgin Islands President David Hall, co-facilitator of the Agricultural Plan Task Force. “We have listened to territory farmers, gardeners, the community and stakeholders to understand the challenges, concerns, successes and priorities. We value your feedback immensely and now ask the public to review our preliminary plan to ensure we are on track so we can make any adjustments as needed.”
Farmers and interested members of the community are invited to join the Task Force’s Preliminary Territorial Agricultural Plan Town Hall via Zoom at bit.ly/AGTownHall2 (this link is case sensitive) at 5:30 p.m., Thursday AST, Sept. 23. Alternatively, people may access the meeting via Meeting ID: 946 3309 6097.
There is also limited seating available for in-person participation on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. To ensure the health and safety of attendees, social distancing and proper masks usage will be strictly enforced. Pre-registration for those attending in person is required. If interested, call 693-1003.
The locations for in-person attendance are as follows:
St. Croix: University of Virgin Islands, the Great Hall
St. John: Cleone H. Creque Legislative Conference Room
St. Thomas: University of Virgin Islands Administration and Conference Center
The initiative to create an agricultural plan was directed by Act 8404, and it must contain policy and funding recommendations to support and expand the local food system, to increase locally-grown food production and to provide an avenue of food security in the territory. The agricultural plan must include short-term and long-term goals, including proposals for legislative enactment.
The Task Force thanks the many farmers, community members, plan reviewers, surveyors and researchers who took part in the active discussions about farming in the territory.