WHERE WE FARM
ST.CROIX, U.S.VIRGIN ISLANDS
Prosperity is the Raising Cane demonstration farm, where we test new plant varieties and automated processes and equipment, and share our knowledge with others.
Through a long succession of owners, the farm grew sugar cane, harvesting about 2,600 pounds per acre. Dating to the 1740s, it appears on one of the earliest maps of St. Croix gently sloping from the hills to the Caribbean sea.
But Prosperity’s lands lay fallow for three decades until Raising Cane purchased a 176-acre portion in 2018. With clearing, intensive mulching and planting, the fields now produce around 8,000 pounds of sugar cane per acre with computer-assisted technology – four times more than the harvest yields of years past.
One of our goals for Prosperity is to produce raw cane in the form of juice or high-test molasses for use by our local rum distillers, Captain Morgan and Cruzan. It’s been more than half a century since St. Croix farms have produced and sold sugar cane on this scale.
But we can do more. We hope to inspire and help others to cultivate their idle lands, too. If collectively we farm 5,000 more acres of sugar cane, we can satisfy almost half of our local distillers’ needs.
At the same time, we are building a micro-distillery to introduce an artisanal rum made with fresh cane juice, the way our French West Indies neighbors have done it for centuries. Then St. Croix can truly say it has a native rum grown from its own soil.
Prosperity welcomes the community and tourists to tour its operations and share their observations and ideas. To set up a visit, contact Rokean Christopher at 315-344-9300 or Visit@RaisingCane.VI.
PROSPERITY'S COLORFUL PAST
If the farmer is poor then so is the whole country.
- Polish proverb
“My father used to say that agriculture is the heart of every country."
- Natalia Quiles Deyá,
Farmer, Puerto Rico
WHERE WE FARM
AGUADA, PUERTO RICO
The rise and fall of sugar cane on Puerto Rico followed a similar fate as St. Croix's. At its height in the 1950s, more than 400,000 acres were under cultivation, and seven Puerto Rican mills processed over a million tons of raw cane.
Located in Aguada on the island’s west coast, Coloso was the mother of all farms and cane factories, at one point milling 5,000 tons of sugar a day.
The Puerto Rican government nationalized the sugar industry in the 1930s, but the enterprise faltered and then failed. When the last farm shut down in 1999, the Puerto Rico Land Authority created an inventory of unused former cane lands, hoping to lure farmers back. Thanks to a land lease, Raising Cane is the proud steward of 1,000 Coloso acres, using precision agriculture to install drainage and irrigation systems and prepare and plant the soil.
Raising Cane’s Coloso team is part of a new generation of Puerto Ricans bent on reviving local farming against the odds. When we signed our lease in 2019, tens of thousands of acres of arable island lands sat idle, and 85% of the island's food was imported. The ingredients of Puerto Rico's major rum brands were imported, too.
Raising Cane aims to change that. Our sugar cane will be supplied in the form of juice and syrup to Puerto Rico’s renowned rum distillers, including Bacardi and Don Q.