It has become old news about the hospitality sector and other business sectors that got hit hard all over the world due to Covid-19.
We have accepted the fact that infection by this virus is possible and that this virus is here to stay. So we will have to find a way how to live with this virus and deal with it. Life as how we knew it changed! It became a must to adjust our views on doing business and become more creative in spending leisure time. But the world hasn’t stopped spinning… right? All the more reason for us to reflect on how life was in 2019 and how to move forward in 2020 and onwards.
This brings us to the next subject concerning Vicky’s Keys which has been developed and managed by the Marlin Yard Foundation. Cause as of 18 September 2020 Marlin Yard Foundation has set a new course for Vicky’s Keys.
About Marlin Yard Foundation
With the intention to empower locals to become more self-sufficient Marlin Yard Foundation is responsible of creating several initiatives in Sint Maarten Dutch West Indies. Marlin Yard’s mission is to stimulate and contribute to self-reliance and to strengthen human resilience in affected areas. Their focus is on the Hurricane Belt in the Caribbean region, with special focus on people who are most vulnerable, people who have little or no access to healthy food, who would not survive or survive poorly without help, or whose living situation would be miserable and without health assistance would be endangered due to natural disasters. Marlin Yard’s mission has only been accomplished by helping to build and teach people to build ecologically responsible homes that are hurricane, earthquake and fire resistant, to set up efficient and effective agricultural activities, to promote sustainable entrepreneurship so that profit-sharing opportunities (crowd profits sharing) are created among communities. More info can be found at www.marlinyard.org.
The few initiatives that are in operation and or are being developed on Sint Maarten are:
- Vicky’s Keys created in 2006, reopened 2013
- The Keys Market – Events since 2018
- Agricultural Project (pending)
- Eco Housing project (pending)
- Health & Wellness project (pending)
The Year 2020
Since 2006 Marlin Yard has recruited volunteers to manage Vicky’s Keys and to organise several events at The Keys Market. Since 22 March 2020 both initiatives came to a screeching halt. Management was forced to come up with a different strategy. Although Covid-19 happened plans to continue developing Vicky’s Keys together with The Keys Market remains.
After accessing the situation of several “Lock-Down” methods applied internationally it has become prominent that communities were thrown back into a status where the need for Basic Necessities and Prime Commodities prominently increased. Unfortunately both subjects increased in value as well. In other words purchasing food and items became more and more annoyingly expensive.
To be clear ‘Basic necessities’ are goods vital to the needs of consumers for their sustenance and existence at all times. Examples are oxygen, water, food, protection against diseases, cold and heat (such as clothing and shelter), and mutual contact such as communication and intimacy. Due to Covid-19 we can not hug a loved one so easily for we have to consider the fact we can infect that person.
‘Prime Commodities‘ are goods not considered as basic necessities but are essential to consumers in times of any of the cases such as a pandemic and hurricane season. Examples are education, recreation, long-distance travel, transportation, or obtaining certain processed foods like being able to order in your favourite Pizza, or even having access to WiFi.
It is a fact Covid-19 forced us to change perspective on our lifestyles and the way how we were conducting business. Covid-19 caused a negative chain reaction where lots of people have either gone bankrupt and or have closed their businesses. People have lost their jobs and are most likely spiralling towards poverty. This is not a pretty picture…
Continue Development Course but different
To anticipate more global economic damage Management has decided to continue developments by applying a different strategy for Vicky’s Keys.
Vicky’s Keys prime business concept as the only Eco Hostel on Sint Maarten will become a Volunteers Centre where local and international based volunteers can participate the Marlin Yard Foundation initiatives that are planned in Sint Maarten. Local volunteers can choose to help work at several initiatives in return they get free meals and can make use of several initiatives facilities. International based volunteers that are willing to participate the initiatives will stay at Vicky’s Keys and get free accommodation, get free meals and can make use of several initiatives facilities.
What is a Volunteers Centre? It’s a place where volunteers work and or live together as a community. The Volunteers Centre – a.k.a. VC – operates under the premise that all income generated via several initiatives and its members goes into a common pool. This income is used to run all initiatives, make investments, and guarantee mutual and reciprocal aid and responsibility between members. VC members receive the same budget regardless of their job or position. In terms of education, all volunteers start equally and are given equal opportunity. The VC is governed by a system of direct participatory democracy, where the individual can directly influence issues and events in the community. In this mostly self sufficient community, the collective as well as the work ethic plays a major role.
Hostel a sub-department
We will continue our hostel concept. What is a hostel?
A hostel is a budget-oriented dormitory accommodation that accepts individual travellers (typically backpackers) for short-term stays, and that provides common areas and communal facilities. This means the majority of our guests shares the sleeping area, bathroom and kitchen. Except guests who sleep in the private dorm rooms and or studios, they wouldn’t have to share everything with other guests.
Vicky’s Keys premises is approximately 1.400m2 / 15.000 square feet. The concept is “Stay among the locals” which is popular among the backpackers market. Yet we are the only one on St. Maarten to anticipate those who would like to experience staying among the locals but with an Eco twist to it. There are 4 buildings on the property. Guests can arrange lodging for a single bed, a room, an apartment or our family apartment. The premises has several gardens cultivated with herbs, vegetables, fruit and fish (Aquaponics-system). Besides the usual luxury amenities you have the choice to experience pure Caribbean self-sufficient living. On the premises you will find a Café, Terrace (ground and roof) with barbecue area, Gardens, 3 Mixed Dormitories and 2 Private Dorm Rooms and two Luxury Studios.
As mentioned earlier there are several initiatives for which volunteers are needed. Currently our focus is on development of: The Keys Market and the Agricultural Project in The Keys village.
This location turns into an outdoor bazaar built out of recycled materials, which will sustain itself by reusing, repurposing and recycling waste while becoming self-sufficient. It’s a location where the occasional and or frequent vendor can set up their mobile shop. There is room for 40+ flexible market stalls and up to 14+ Food stalls for the Food Court section at this outdoor bazaar. A Food Court will be built out of modified shipping containers where locals can sell their culture signature dishes.
Furthermore workshop activities in eco awareness will be made available to the public. Jobs and business opportunities in waste processing and upcycling will be created. TKM will have its own food source (aquaponics system and permaculture gardens) and own renewable energy sources providing own electricity, cooking gas, harvested rainwater. The market will also be supplied with island grown fruit, veggies, fish, meat cultivated from different districts and zones e.g. Sucker Garden, St. Peters, Betty’s Estate and more.
- the continuation of the build up of the Market location
- setting up the markets aquaponic system and market selling booth
- aquaponic system maintenance
- landscaping and gardening
- setting up the Food Court section
- marketing activities for market theme events and for the Food Court
Marlin Yard Foundation has started the following Agricultural Projects in our little village called The Keys:
It is our belief to preserve historical relics. Relics in The Keys are ruins of slave walls and the old black berry vine which the village inhabitants in the late 1800’s early 1900’s planted. This black berry was used to make jam and wine. It will be our honour to reinstate this black berry vine and assist with the production of various national products made from this vine.
Community gardens are common spaces where people of different demographics come together to create, develop and sustain a gardening space in their locality. Through community gardening, the gardening culture and a greater sense of civic ownership is manifested among the public. Not only does it beautify the village with blooming flowers, vegetables, spices and fruits, it is an opportunistic platform for neighbours, peers and colleagues to come together for bonding and sharing of knowledge and experiences. Especially in the St. Maarten multi-ethnic society, community gardens nurture the values of cooperation, volunteering, respecting diversity and creating ecological awareness.
- maintenance of the current aquaponic system and gardens at Vicky’s Keys
- selection of seeds and plants for nursery department at Vicky’s Keys
- allotment preparations and landscaping for the black berry vine and garden plots
- planting of selected future crops
- marketing activities to sell Workshops in aquaponics
- constructing aquaponic garden kits for potential buyers
- networking with locals to start the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) initiative.
Join the Volunteers Program
If you are interested in joining us on this new adventure then click HERE to read more about the Volunteers Program.
If you would like to make a donation, donations are accepted via this button.
We are looking forward to meeting you and to welcome you at Vicky’s Keys – Volunteer Centre. Cause small efforts makes a BIG change!