All I can say is “wow” just look at all those colors; kind of leaves me speechless and more than a little busy in the galley storing, chopping and preparing some really fresh, organic, and flavorful dishes over the past few days!!! Before I get into where I got all this great stuff, let me first send out a big thank you to our new friends the MacKinnon family for having us over for lunch the other day at their beautiful club, South Bar located on the southern tip of Harbour Island (more photos in the March photo album section of this website).
South Bar is a private enclave of cottage-style, beach homes organized in what could best be described as a co-op. Everyone knows each other and shares in the organization and upkeep of the property. The original home built on the property back in the ’70’s serves as the members “clubhouse” where scheduled, communal meals are served with produce brought in from their community garden. The garden is absolutely amazing, in a wild, windswept kind of way. Hand-painted, wooden signs displaying each plot’s produce along with randomly placed, raised wooden boxes literally bursting with greens, await those that venture down the thickly foliaged entrance. Tomatoes, snap peas, many varieties of lettuce, carrots, beets, radish, kohlrabi, spring onions, herbs, spinach, peppers, banana and papayas, to name just a few, along with the sharpest, most delicious tasting arugula I have ever sampled can be found in this garden.
The garden exists today in its ever expanding form because of Mrs. MacKinnon, who way back when, craved fresh produce when visiting the island. Not much is grown in the Bahamas; a harsh climate and poor soils dictate what can survive (mainly papaya, pineapples, and a limited supply of tomatoes and lettuce), so most of the produce is shipped in weekly from the the U.S. Freshness is compromised by durability and distance traveled for most of the fruits and vegetables found in the market with limited selection and high prices.
More than a little bush-whacking and back-breaking labor went into clearing an area suitable for growing fresh produce. Strong winds, sea salt spray, and hot sun all contribute to the difficulties in starting a garden, but those elements did not deter her from creating her little slice of paradise at South Bar. The garden grew into a more communal one as other residents discovered the joys of freshly grown produce and started bringing their favorite seeds for planting. Currently the garden is enjoyed by all residents and employees at South Bar. Nothing is wasted; residents are frequently in the garden snipping off produce for a fresh lunch or dinnertime meal and any excess or unpicked items are composted to provide organic fertilizer.
South Bar and its wonderful garden is a special place and a true legacy to continue for the MacKinnon family and residents well into the future. Thanks again to the MacKinnons for having us over to visit, and look out for some tasty recipes over the next week.