“We are what we eat” is the motto of Louise and Raymond Fowler, owners of a new organic farm on Abaco. The couple is both very health conscious and it is their desire to help Abaconians develop healthy habits.
Raymond describes himself as a visionary. He has been a pioneer of organic farming in The Bahamas since 1986. His skills include agricultural business development, permaculture, fruit and vegetable production, public relations and sales.
His wife and partner in the business, Louise, was a film director in Canada for more than 15 years specializing in documentaries; the last documentary she produced was in fact on organic farming. Also a trained therapist, she is very interested in the holistic approach to body, mind and spirit while being passionate about global health, healthy food and causes of diseases.
She helped develop the agricultural business with her husband and between them they have vast experience in organic agriculture. The completely organic food they grow feeds the body with healthy nutrients as part of her holistic approach.
They first began organic farming on Eleuthera in 1986 but unfortunately Hurricane Andrew destroyed the farm in 1992. After several years’ stay in Nassau they again went to Eleuthera in 1997 to begin organic farming once more but unfortunately three years later along came Hurricane Floyd and wiped them out once again.
They have now chosen Abaco to begin their newest organic farm which they began on February 2, 2015. Last year they carried out a market study with an agronomist. Their plan is to upgrade every year and to network with others. They are keen to bring in the younger generation and share the concept of organic farming with them as they want it to continue when, eventually, age prevents them from continuing.
The farm is totally organic because Raymond and Louise are very health conscious and want to encourage people to develop healthy habits. “We do not use any pesticides and we feed our soil with very good stuff so that the produce is very healthy,” stated Raymond. “It can be compared to feeding a child with good nutritious foods or feeding them on candy and junk. If the child eats healthy food it will be healthy, if it eats junk it will be sick.”
Another advantage of organically grown foods is that their shelf life is much longer.
The farm consists of 25 acres but presently only four are under cultivation while Raymond and Louise are fine-tuning the operation. They planted only organic non-GMO (non-genetically modified) seeds and use absolutely no pesticides. The ground is fertilized with compost, seaweed, chicken manure and mulch from under the trees.
OMRI certified organic fertilizer is also used, some of which is obtained from fish and some from husks of brown rice. Louise, who does the packaging, is hoping to develop non-synthetic packaging so that the whole cycle will be free of contamination.
This year the farm has been producing honeydew melons, cantaloupe, sweet peppers, tomatoes, cabbage, romaine and Boston lettuces, cucumber, kale, arugula, zucchini and a variety of herbs.
They have supplied Maxwell’s Grocery and Abaco Groceries both of which stores they have found to be very supportive. The stores have been very receptive to their organic produce and look forward to working with them in the future. The farm has also sold to restaurants and they thank the chefs who are using their produce.
Now the farm is winding down because Louise and Ray’s experiences have taught them that the summer is not a good time for growing and that the storms can wipe out the crops. They will begin farming again in November. Raymond and Louise thank people for their support and for their ideas, concepts and sharing. “The people of Abaco have been very receptive to us and welcoming and we look forward to continuing this relationship.”
The farm, Oasis Altlan Ltd., is located in South Abaco off the Ernest Dean Highway about 1 mile north of the Abaco Neem farm. Raymond and Louise welcome people to their farm where they can purchase the fresh produce.
Customers can call 577 5512 or 696 0016 to see when the owners will be there or look for the farm sign which will be at the end of the little dirt road whenever they are present.
Although Louise and Raymond will be off the island from July during the summer months they encourage people to check them out in November when they begin planting again in earnest to supply their organic produce for the health of Abaco residents.