Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Level

...which, obviously, it is not.


The two main settlements on Saba (The Bottom and Windwardside) have outlying neighborhoods of their own.  El Momo sits above and to the right of Windwardside in the area called Booby Hill (no, silly, the bird.)  But if you continue straight up from The City you will come to an area called The Level.  The topography feels more like a bowl, in fact, and that lends a very cozy, secure feeling to the place.


On a sunny half-acre or so lies The Garden (if it has a more formal name I’m unaware of it) which was started several years ago as a community agricultural project for the local teenagers.  But it has evolved into something very special:  a completely organic garden that produces vegetables and herbs that are available for purchase by the island restaurants and locals.  Patrick usually supplements his El Momo menu with something from The Garden.  I went along today when he went to pick up a few items.


I wasn’t prepared for the beauty of the place.  It’s under the care and direction of a man named Manuel, a Cuban national who is a specialist in Organopónicos, a system of urban gardens begun in Cuba after the Soviet Union dried up and blew away.


A primary feature of Organopónicos is raised beds, but specifically, raised beds with low cement walls.  Here on Saba where lava rocks are plentiful, the walls incorporate that material which lends an even more elegant look to the garden.


I wandered among the rows of eggplants and peppers and new lettuce and young beets.  The herbs grew in huge bunches and were particularly odoriferous and, in many cases, alive with the sound of buzzing bees.  Some rows are planted at the ends with marigolds, although I can’t imagine it’s to keep the deer away, which is what my father does back home.


Patrick chose some peppers, coriander and lemon grass.  Manuel brought out a small machete to cut the lemongrass, releasing its fresh scent into the air.  The beets aren’t ready yet, but Patrick said he doesn’t care for them anyway.  Clearly he’s never had my beet/gorgonzola/toasted walnut salad with orange vinaigrette.  

But he will soon.  And he will love it. 


  1. Damn, those plants look good.

    And now I totally want some of that beet salad.

  2. Patrick sounds a lot like Horace Vandergelder.

  3. Those veggies look great! YUM! I'll bet that soil combined with all the sun they get down there it must make for some terrific growing. I'll bet that salad of yours tastes great too!

  4. Ok, I want you and your "beet/gorgonzola/toasted walnut salad with orange vinaigrette." LOL

    Enquiring minds want the recipe if it's not an old family secret.

    Just found you thanks to Stan. You are one interesting guy ... and I certainly plan to check you out again.

  5. Yes, Patrick is kind of like Horace! LOL! And welcome, Pick! Nice of Stan to corral you in.

  6. Amazing garden! I'll bet those green peppers are to die for! And your salad? I'm not a fan of beets, either, but the orange vinargrette sells me.

  7. Y'know, after I posted I couldn't remember if Horace actually hated beets or just didn't enjoy them salted (I wanted to avoid another Margaret Dumont fiasco) but I checked and yup, he was a fully-paid-up-card-carrying beet hater.