Farm to Flask: Exploring St.Croix’s Farms and Distilleries

Once dedicated to the monoculture of sugar cane, St. Croix is now a diverse agricultural hub in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Flatter than the neighboring islands, the island is a fruitful and diverse cropland, home to welcoming farms, premium distilleries and two microbreweries.  

Celebrate the growers and makers of St. Croix with this self-guided tour through some of the island’s best homegrown goods. 

Drink Some, Dig Some in Christiansted

Bustling Christiansted is known for historic buildings and spectacular scenery, but there’s more to enjoy here. Microbrewery and restaurant Brew STX offers brews with a view. On the menu, you’ll find upgraded pub fare like beer-battered mahi tacos and crispy brussels sprouts. 

But the real draw here is the beer. Brew STX makes small-batch beers ranging from blondes and Belgians to browns and ambers. The draft menu rotates often, so you never know what you might find! Order a sample flight and sit on the second-floor deck to enjoy the outlook over the boardwalk and harbor beyond.

Just across the island from Christiansted proper, local artists Luca and Christina Gasperi have turned their love for growing things into a unique business. ARTfarm is a small organic fruit and vegetable farm, growing heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs and vegetables, and tropical fruits like dragonfruit and mangos. 

The farmstand offers “pop-ups” during limited hours for public sales. Or you could volunteer to help if you’d like to get your hands dirty. Check their website for scheduling! 

Mid-Island Spirits and More

With space to spread out, the mid-island is home to both high-volume distilleries and small-batch makers.

The Famous Rums of St. Croix

Rum is inextricably linked with the Caribbean. That may be partially thanks to Cruzan Rum Distillery, the oldest and most famous distillery in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Although the Cruzan brand wasn’t established until 1934, the site has been creating rum since its first sugar mill was built in 1760.

The distillery’s 30-minute outdoor tour walks guests through the process from fermentation to aging and allows you to peek inside the vats of rum-in-the-making. (The Visitor Center is closed for renovations, but tours are expected to resume in 2023.)

If you can’t get enough rum, you’re in luck! The Captain Morgan Distillery and Visitor Center is just a short drive from Cruzan. 

While this rum didn’t originate in St. Croix, its namesake does have local ties. The real Captain Morgan was a Welsh privateer who patrolled the Caribbean on behalf of the British government during the 17th Century. Guests can schedule a Visitor Center tour, which includes an overview of the distillation process, the history of the brand, and of course, plenty of rum tastings. 

Island-Friendly Vodka and Beer

Vodka may not seem like an island spirit, but it is—when it’s made from tropical breadfruit. At Mutiny Island Vodka Distillery on Estate Sion Farm, this starchy local fruit is the primary ingredient in unflavored and flavored vodkas. 

During a complimentary distillery tour, visitors can learn about the inspiration behind the brand name and find out why breadfruit makes such great vodka. A glass wall separates the sleek tasting room from the distillery, so you can see the copper still while sipping a Lime in the Coconut.

A short drive further west will lead you to Leatherback Brewing Co., a local microbrewery that puts an island spin on its beer. The refreshing Island Life lager is perfect for a hot day, while the Bush Life farmhouse ale gets its unique flavor from local basil, lemongrass, ginger, and sorrel. All beers are made with purified rainwater! 

In the mural-painted tasting room, sip away while you snack on hearty pizzas, sandwiches, and wraps. Before you go, climb to the elevated tour deck to look down on the brewing process below.

Working the Land Out West

The farms on St. Croix are small but mighty, each taking its own unique approach to local agriculture.

Farming With a Cause

Working on an island, resources can be scarce and infrastructure antiquated. That’s why Crescent Farms V.I. is entirely solar-powered, to create a more sustainable operation and save on costly energy.

The farm also seeks to help remedy the damage done to the local ecosystem after centuries of deforestation for sugar cane planting. In addition to selling fresh herbs and vegetables, Crescent Farms sells potted trees like coconuts, bananas, soursops, and many more for planting around the island.  

At Sejah Farm of the Virgin Islands, the local food system is both a business and a cause. With  97% of the food consumed on the island imported, the food supply is fragile in times of bad weather or market fluctuations. So Sejah Farms offers education and training to other farms to help reduce the local dependence on imports. 

Their 15 acres of land are devoted to grazing for sheep and Boer goats, growing organic vegetables, and raising poultry. The market is open to the public from Monday through Saturday, so stop by to shop and talk about local food!

At the edge of the heavily forested northwestern region of St. Croix, Annaly Farms is a favorite local market and a fifth-generation family business. They offer fresh produce, farm-fresh eggs, hormone-free chicken, and imported beef and other meat from the U.S. 

Their specialty is free-range beef from St. Croix’s Senepol cattle. This hearty breed was developed specifically to withstand the hot tropical climate and thrive on the local vegetation. All steaks are cut to order, so you can get them just how you like them. 

Agritourism on St. Croix

The rugged, wild landscape of Ridge to Reef Farm would be worth a visit even if it weren’t a wonderful farm! This beautiful site up in the hills of northwestern St. Croix produces organic fruits, vegetables, and livestock for its farm share members and farm stand customers. 

For those who wish to stay longer in this mini rainforest, Ridge to Reef offers solar-powered cabanas for a camp-style experience. Some visitors choose to volunteer on the farm or learn about sustainability, while others simply soak up a slower way of life. 

Near Ridge to Reef Farm (and under the same management), Little La Grange Farm is both a working farm and a historical site. The certified organic farm produces fresh fruit, greens, and vegetables, plus pasture-raised hogs. 

The site is also home to the Lawaetz Museum, located inside the beautifully preserved 18th-century Great House owned by the Lawaetz family. Guided tours share the Danish colonial history of the estate and the family, dating back to 1896. While the house is beautifully preserved, ruins on the property tell the story of the plantation’s sugar-producing past.

Bonus: La Reine Farmers Market

If you don’t have time to visit individual farms (or even if you do), a visit to La Reine Farmers Market gathers many of the island’s farmers in one place. Located behind La Reine Chicken Shack at the intersection of Centerline Road and Queen Street, this Saturday morning market is a St. Croix institution. 

Browse the stalls of fresh herbs, organic vegetables, tropical fruits, and local honey. Get a fresh passionfruit juice to sip while you wander, and take your time. The conversation here is as good as the produce.

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