A visit to Spring Valley Farm is always a joy and filled with inspiration for my designs. Just a 6 minute flight from our little Mustique airport to mainland St. Vincent, and a 15 minute drive up into the mountains, and there we enter another world. One of tranquility, a oneness with nature and a great escape and adventure. Spring Valley Farm is not so much a farm as a rain forest. the vast majority of the land is left alone, interspersed with little plantations of mango, avocado, cocoa and papaya to name but a few, and of course Bananas! And it was the aim of this particular visit, to get to know the banana tree so I could make it my next design.
In the picture below my nephews forage for fruit to fill their baskets. I think they've met their match here!
As I have mentioned before, I like to understand how a plant works, How the branches grow from the trunk, and the fruit from the branches etc before I feel I can simplify it down to make a repeat design that is easy on the eye and not too fussy.
Here I am sitting above a small valley filled with banana trees. Each tree provides just one bunch of bananas and then dies, but it sends up a baby plant at its roots beforehand so the cycle goes on.
You can see the trunks of coconut trees dotted throughout the banana field. These are the remains of the coconut plantation that the whole estate used to be back in the 1950s. But by the 1980s Bananas had taken over and the production of bananas contributed 60% of the export earnings of St. Vincent. They were the single largest economic activity on the island until 1995 when the United States complained to the WTO that the EU banana regime discriminated against Latin American producers. A series of legal rulings followed and an uncertainty grew amongst the banana producers. Also ravaged by disease, pests and hurricanes, banana production fell from almost 80,000 tonnes to 37,000 in 1999. At the same time as banana production in St. Vincent declined, South American exports were rapidly growing, gaining economies of scale and thus out-competing the smaller Vincentian farms.
We now aim to plant fruit trees of all types in mixed orchards. The larger trees provide shelter for the smaller ones and the intercropping prevents pests from devastating a whole orchard in one go.
Below is the repeat print we ended up with for linen and for swim.
Below is the Short "cosima" Kaftan in chiffon Silk, worn by Gabija at our photoshoot on the point between Gelliceaux and Lagoon Bay. Gabi had just returned from Carnival with a magnificent hair-style. I'm not sure who's was more impressive, hers or Ryan's?
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This is a topic often talked about in our UK HQ. Regardless of age, it seems that we have all practiced one or both in the last two years, with some of our number making a class or two a week a staple in their diary.
We have been collaborating with the Tresco estate for some years now as our island style is perfect for their aesthetic. Lotty has recently designed a print with Tresco which will be available later this year.