. . . History . . .
Here’s how American visionary B.J. Welch came to Loterie Farm and how he took care and transformed, 135 acres or 54 hectares of eco magic located at Pic Paradis, Saint Martin’s highest peak.
Interview with B.J. Welch, guardian and steward of Loterie Farm:
In 1995 we had this really really bad hurricane, hurricane Luis, which pretty much devastated the island and the Loterie Farm property wasn’t excluded from that.
At the time, I was building a house in a little housing community called Pic Paradis there where a lot of like reclusive, I want to say reclusive rich people, live. I was neither reclusive nor rich but I was still building a house up there because I loved the idea of the environment- it’s about 10 degrees cooler up there, full of trees and it was really really pretty – it still is pretty as it regrew and flourished after the hurricane.
Anyway, after that hurricane, all of the vegetation we see today was more or less swept away by the high winds and prior to that when you were driving your car up this hill, there was no way you could drive up that road and see what was down inside this deep valley let alone the abandoned house on the property.
So I was coming down from observing the destruction of my home site at the top of Pic Paradis and I was looking at a real disaster when I saw this house sitting there, sad and baron, in the middle of this tumbled down hurricane destroyed property. All the rock walls that lined the property had fallen down as had all the electrical poles- there wasn’t one leaf on one tree – it looked like a bomb had gone off in here – but having never seen the house before I was really curious and I climbed over a rickety rusty old fence and marched down to the bottom where I was greeted by this guy.
Turns out he was the caretaker and he was like “Yo, what are you doing here man” and all this kind of stuff
And I said “I don’t know, lived here such a long time and I never even realized that this property was here. What is this property? ”
He said that it was Loterie Farm, the former home of Elie Fleming who was a very important man here and now belonged to his sister Nelly Fleming Engle
And I said “Hold on a minute you mean Nelly Engle ?”
He said “Yeah Nelly Engle”.
Well she was living in the United States for about 20 some odd years and she was already in her late 70’s or early 80’s but she was the lady that sold me my land at the top of Pic Paradis when I was younger and we had a great relationship, she was like my surrogate grandmother .
Here at Loterie Farm, expect nothing less than the magic of Mother Nature .
I ran as fast as I could to the first available telephone which was quite far away because all the telephone lines were down, called her, and I said ”
I didn’t know you owned Loterie Farm, what’s the story with that, why are letting that place fall apart like that?”
She said “Oh Loterie Farm it’s a huge property I’m not sure what to do with it, you know I’m no spring chicken and I’m just waiting to get an idea”
and I said “I have an idea!!!!”
Now almost 20 years later, Loterie Farm is the idea come to fruition. So what we have now is an old traditional family property and I’m the American, what you would call the guardian of the property, who took over from Nelly Fleming Engle. Unfortunately she passed away. Her children, John and Anne-Marie, inherited it from her and today her heirs and I try as much as we can to protect the legacy of the family and at the same time open the property to the public so they can actually discover the natural side of St. Martin.