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ST THOMAS — Multi-generational farmer Shelli Brin cannot remember a time when farming wasn’t a part of her life. This St. Thomas native is the owner and founder of Que Sera Farms, located on the island’s northside in Mandahl. Brin’s childhood was rooted in the land and sea, thanks to a family of farmers, fisher folks, and entrepreneurs. Que Sera Farms aids and spearheads agroforestry projects around the islands, like Hideaway Farm, a food forest installation in Hull Bay. Additionally, the farm offers invaluable guidance and assistance to chefs new to the island on ways to include local ingredients in their menu designs.

A graduate of Joseph Sibilly Elementary School and All Saints Cathedral School, Brin earned a Bachelors in Tourism Destination Marketing from Niagara University in New York. After years of working in the hospitality industry around the world, she returned home and jumped into what became a 10-year relationship with professional farming on the sister island of St. Croix. There she explored, supported, and helped develop within the field of agriculture local economic and social movements of heritage tourism, nature tourism, agritourism, and the Farm-to-School movement.

Throughout her experience within agriculture, Brin took up a hat and veil, entering the wonderful world of beekeeping. She revealed that the bee population loss in the territory has been prevalent, similar to what is happening in other parts of the world. “This year, 90% of my hives were wiped out and I was able to replenish one-third of what was lost,” shared Brin. “It’s why planting pollen-rich trees and flowers and saving hives is more essential than ever in the islands.” This is how the farm began consultations with private and commercial property owners in a variety of food forest projects. Since the community gets much of its fruit from local trees, it’s important to local food security to be proactive when planning your landscape and choosing your pesticide routines around villas, homes, and businesses. “In order for any flower in the islands to turn into a fruit, it has to first be touched by a bee.”

Many residents and visitors wonder if they can visit the farm to see the magic of agriculture firsthand. Unfortunately, the farm is not open to visits, thanks to an inaccessible dirt road in need of major repairs. “We’re still busy at work with beekeeping, hive removals, microgreens, and the nursery,” Brin said. Que Sera Farms does get out into the community with occasional pop-up farm boxes, small educational workshops, farm volunteer days, and being a vendor at food festivals throughout the year.

Connect with Que Sera Farms on social media via Facebook at @queserafarmer, and on Instagram at @queserafarms.

Written by Anquanette Gaspard