Coral Bay is slated to become the center of the island’s soon-to-be-booming agriculture industry, according to Department of Agriculture Commissioner Louis Petersen.
Agriculture officials identified four acres of land adjacent to the Coral Bay Agriculture Station on Kings Hill Road which would be ideal for subdivision and leasing to farmers, Petersen explained.
While the land is actually owned by the Department of Property and Procurement, Agriculture is the custodian of the land, according to Petersen.
“The Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Gover-nor’s office, the St. John Adminis-trator’s office and Property and Procurement, have set aside these four acres for the department to oversee, subdivide and lease to individuals or groups who are interested in food production activities,” he said.
Officials are hoping to attract people interested in raising short-term crops.
“I’m speaking of fruit, herbs — both culinary and medicinal — and vegetables,” Petersen said. “We’re talking about crops that can bring quick income for us because this won’t be a mere garden activity. We are the Department of Agriculture and it’s our mission to actually promote an industry.”
“We’re speaking about farming for a profit — producing and making it profitable,” Petersen continued. “And not only earning an income but selling to consumers on the island who want to use the commodities that are grown here.”
While there is a well in the area, officials will test the quality of both the water and soil before any tilling begins, according to the Department of Agriculture Commissioner.
“There is a very high water table there and a well which might need to be revived,” he said. “We’ll be testing the soil and the water, but we’re moving rapidly, so it shouldn’t take too long.”
Officials have not settled on a price for leasing the land, but the cost will be affordable, Petersen added.
“We want to make it affordable so people will get involved,” he said. “We’re really happy to be able to do this because for many years the residents of St. John have been asking for a space to produce food and never before has the government responded as we are now by making this land available.”
Anyone interested in leasing land from the Department of Agriculture should attend a meeting on Friday, July 20, at 6 p.m. at the St. John Legislature building. For more information call the St. John Agriculture Station at 776-6274.