Citizens of Change Project Celebrates St. Martiners Who Made a Difference

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Citizens of Change is a new project to celebrate St. Martiners who have made a difference on the island. The public is invited to nominate people they would like to recognize. The stories of their work will be featured in an exhibit at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House, and also online. The Les Fruits de Mer association and Be the Change Foundation are partners in this project.

“Amuseum Naturalis is a place to share all the stories of St. Martin,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “Citizens of Change is an opportunity to share the stories of everyday people who made a difference. It’s also a chance for the community to tell us what they want to see in the Amuseum.”

People are encouraged to nominate anyone, living or dead, who made a difference on St. Martin. Nominations for teachers, writers, artists, builders, farmers, craftsmen, cooks, parents and storytellers are encouraged. By “citizen” we refer to ordinary members of the community, rather than political leaders. Nominees may be of any nationality.

Nominations can be made by email to info@lesfruitsdemer.com, on the Les Fruits de Mer Facebook page, or in person at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House. Nominations should include the name of the person nominated and a description of their contribution to the island. 

“The success and survival of St. Martin has always depended on ordinary people making a difference,” said Be the Change Foundation Director Melanie Choisy. “Our organization is dedicated to the kind of giving, sharing and volunteering that is part of St. Martin culture. We’re excited to support a project that celebrates this spirit and the people who embody it.”

The Citizens of Change project is the Be the Change featured project for March. Donations made to the foundation this month will fund the creation of this exhibit. Donations can be made online at https://bethechangesxm.com. 

Get Free Native Plants for Your Backyard at Amuseum Naturalis

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Anyone looking to add some green to their yard or neighborhood can get free plants at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter. The free plant stand is located just in front of the Amuseum, and is stocked with an assortment of native plants and trees. The plants are provided by the Les Fruits de Mer association.

“Native plants are great for native animals, and after the destruction of Hurricane Irma, we still need to replace plants that were lost,” said Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “St. Martin is the most densely-populated island in the Caribbean, so there is not a lot of open space. Adding native plants around our homes can help make up for a lack of wild spaces.”

Les Fruits de Mer’s native plants nursery is one of several plant projects at Amuseum Naturalis. Promoting native plants helps local species and hopefully reduces demand for imported plants, which may arrive with unwanted pests. The project is funded by donations and a grant from BirdsCaribbean’s Hurricane Relief Fund. This fund has provided support for birds and nature on islands impacted by the hurricanes of 2017.

Other plant projects at Amuseum Naturalis include a native plant trail, a bush tea and bush medicine garden, and plantings of traditional food crops. Amuseum visitors are invited to learn all about plants and plant use on St. Martin. They are also welcome to share knowledge about plants and how they are used. The association will also give away seedlings of heritage plants used in bush teas.

“Please come by and pick up some free plants,” invited Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “You can also visit the Amuseum for free while you are there! And please continue to share what you know about local plants and how they are used, so this knowledge can be passed on to future generations.”

Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House is a free museum sharing all that is special about St. Martin. It is open 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday, and is located at The Old House on the hill above Le Galion beach in French Quarter. The free plant stand is in front of the Amuseum and accessible at all times.

Migratory Bird Festival 2018

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Despite the rain, over 150 guests of all ages found fun new ways to learn about birds at the Migratory Bird Festival on Saturday. Created by an all-volunteer team from the Les Fruits de Mer association, this year’s festival took place at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter.

“This was our sixth Migratory Bird Festival, so we created a lot of new activities to keep it fresh,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “You could listen to bird sounds and measure yourself compared to local birds. People loved decorating their own bird tote bags and playing Bird Bingo in the gardens.”

The Migratory Bird Festival celebrates the birds that travel thousands of miles each year to live in St. Martin. They connect this tiny island to the rest of the Americas. The festival also highlights the things these birds need to survive. At the Portable Pond, guests could see aquatic insects and other creatures that many migratory birds eat. The Habitat Scavenger Hunt sent kids looking for food, shelter and other things that birds depend on.

“This was our first Migratory Bird Festival at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House,” commented Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “It was the perfect place, with lots of indoor and outdoor space to explore. Many people from French Quarter came to the festival, and we want to keep building the connection between the town and the Amuseum.”

The 2018 Migratory Bird Festival was made possible by a team of 20 wonderful volunteers. The festival was free thanks to the support of its sponsors: L’Auberge Gourmand, BZSE, Coalys, Delta Petroleum, ECOFIP, Frigodom, IZI LIGHT, Lagoonies, Pelikaan Brewery, St. Martin’s Sweetness and SXM Logistics. To see highlights from the festival, visit http://lesfruitsdemer.com or find Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook.

Migratory Bird Festival

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Amuseum Naturalis is excited to host the 6th annual Migratory Bird Festival!

The annual Migratory Bird Festival is a free, public event where residents and visitors alike can see, celebrate, and learn about the marvelous migratory birds that travel thousands of miles each year to visit or spend the winter in St. Martin. These amazing birds connect the Americas with their incredible journeys, and St. Martin plays an important role in their life cycle. Activities at the 2018 Migratory Bird Festival will include birdwatching, BirdSleuth games, interactive discovery stations, art activities, and more! This year’s event will be held on Saturday, October 13th from 9am to noon at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter. The festival is brought to you by Les Fruits de Mer, and the 2018 sponsors: L’Auberge Gourmand, BZSE, Coalys, Delta Petroleum, ECOFIP, Frigodom, IZI LIGHT, Lagoonies, Pelikaan Brewery, St. Martin’s Sweetness and SXM Logistics.

Date: Saturday, October 13, 2018
Time: 9am – Noon
Location: Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House, French Quarter

BirdSleuth Caribbean Training

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Les Fruits de Mer is excited to offer BirdSleuth Caribbean training to teachers and youth group leaders on St. Martin. This fantastic program helps kids connect to science and nature through birds. It was adapted specifically for the Caribbean, so it uses birds and habitats found right here on St. Martin. Binkie van Es is the instructor for the bilingual class. Our September session is full, but we are planning a second training on October 20th and 21st.

Discover Native Plants!

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We put up a series of panels about the native plants and trees growing at Amuseum Naturalis. They tell about the amazing skills that help these plants survive on St. Martin. It’s harder than you might think! They also feature beautiful vintage botanical illustrations. Enjoy a walk through the garden and learn about the plants and trees around you!

Scouts Visit

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After having many teams of Scouts helping at the Amuseum for the past three weeks, it was great that the whole group could come and see it! The Scouts came from all over France (and even some from Germany and Belgium) to help St. Martin after Hurricane Irma. At the Amuseum, Scouts helped us clean, garden, build and more!

Open House

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We had a fantastic time at today’s open house at Amuseum Naturalis. Over 100 people came by to enjoy our summer preview. Guests also brought plants for the bush tea garden. Huge thanks to volunteers and guests alike! For July and August we will be open from 9am to noon, so please come by to see us! We have 8 fascinating exhibits right now. You can also watch our films in our micro-theater and enjoy seeing the historic house and grounds. As always, admission to the Amuseum is free!