Hooked On Hydroponics: Farming at Anguilla's CuisinArt Resort

CuisinArt Resort Brings "Farm to Table" to Life with Their Innovative System

Olivia Balsinger

When you close your eyes and dream of escaping to a desert island, chances are your vision is free from the typical tourist areas marked by strips of chain restaurants and duty-free stores. Instead, it is more than likely that when you drift off, you wake up on a limestone hump in the middle of the ocean, whose representation on the globe is no larger than the size of your pinky nail, bathing on a perfect beach of silk-like sand with the mist of the turquoise sea gracing your warm skin with every breeze.

You snap back to reality, inspired to find a place that makes your lofty thoughts into the tangible surrounding. Look no further than a round trip ticket to the small Caribbean island of Anguilla.​

While rabid consumerism continues to devour the many hot spots scattered throughout the Caribbean, Anguilla has managed to maintain both its historical and natural charm, while gracefully interweaving traces of post-modernity in recent vacation properties. Although these recent developments have facilitated more convenient tourism, Anguilla remains wholly genuine as a setting of true island life. And while this is blissful, it poses some problems when it comes to accessibility of food sources. Relying on North America or Europe (via St. Maarten ) for all of its food import, receiving processed and non-perishables is not the issue.

Acquiring fresh fruits and veggies, however, is a little more complex, as the quality can become greatly reduced by long periods of shipment.

Luckily, the island is home to The CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa, which seeks to resolve the lack of fresh produce with its impressive Hydroponic Farm in order to serve its guests the finest food in one of the world's most beautiful locations.

The resort's farming system is based on a tradition as far back as the hanging gardens of Babylon and the floating gardens of the Aztecs. Literally meaning "water working," the main principle behind hydroponic culture is adjusting the appropriate ratios and concentration of water to allow a variety of different plants to grow in equal health side-by-side. Because it involves a substrate for the plant roots to grow in, the technique is commonly referred to as "soilless" culture.

Due to the island's non-arable conditions and lack of fresh water (apart from that generated by osmosis), hydroponics was the ideal answer to begin an agricultural initiative in Anguilla. It all takes place in a greenhouse, specially engineered to withstand the infamous winds (up to 150mph) that pass over the islands occasionally. This way, the crops can grow all season in any weather condition.

Spanning 18,000 square feet in area, the greenhouse offers a tour of vibrant colors and delicious scents, each showcasing a different intricacy to the fascinating farming technique; lettuce ponds grow buttercrunch lettuce by way of water mixed with the 13 different nutrients (which make up the plant's "recipe"); tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, bok choy, and herbs grow in perlite. In order to optimize space, vine plants are trained vertically as staking varieties. Additionally, the resort built plant towers, made up of a series of 10 plants stacked one on top of the other, sustaining off of a trickle down method of nutrient solutions.

Whatever excess is picked up by the drainpipe at the bottom to be reused on the landscape.  

Ever since the “farm to table” concept became a travel trend, there have been plenty of resorts and hotels who claim their gastronomic experiences are the most organic and fresh. But the resort's claim may be more legitimate than most. CuisinArt's onsite Hydroponic Farm permits the resort to be involved in the dining process literally from seed to bloom, delivering plates of fresh, delicious food from the greenhouse to its restaurants. So you can escape to your desert island getaway, revitalized with nutrient rich meals expertly prepared with the best of ingredients.

   

The Hydroponic Farm at CuisinArt also fuels the food production at the resort's sister property, The  Reef, which opened in November 2016. Just like CuisinArt, The Reef has complete access to the farm and all of its ingredients, fresh produce, and a bevy of nutrient-dense fresh juices. A member of Small Luxury Hotels Of The World, The Reef boasts two restaurants that are delivered the farm fresh hydroponics daily. The Yacht Club restaurant, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, is located poolside in the midst of the resort's activity.

Breeze's, The Reef's restaurant and bar, beachfront and with a view of St. Maarten across the aqua sea, is open for lunch and dinner.