. . . Spirit . . .
Loterie Farm is probably the only example on St. Martin of a private nature reserve. At Loterie Farm, we’ve made it our business to protect all 54 hectares of this beautiful countryside set deep in the interior of the island.
Housed at Loterie Farm are the old residence of one of the former mayor’s of St. Martin and the former home of L.A. Fleming. Today our purpose and goal are to safeguard the history and environment amidst abundant trees and thousands of different species. To do that, we have opened the property to the public and we invite people to enjoy the natural surroundings and participate in all the different activities we offer which covers everything from hiking our beautiful trails to riding one of our three Zip Line Adventures.
Interview with steward BJ Welch
Nelly Fleming Engel who passed away right after I acquired the property in the form of a lease is buried here in the family plot along with her mother, father, grandmother and grandfather. Now these are descendants of the Fleming family of course but the history of the property goes way way back before even their existence here. In fact , the entrance sign to Loterie Farm reads “established in 1721”, as we have significant records that suggest that the first owner of Loterie Farm was an Englishman, by the name of Richard Bailey, who actually won the rights to establish a sugar plantation here in a loterie and that’s why it’s called Loterie Farm. Of course it wasn’t always called Loterie Farm. It was called Loterie Plantation and operated as a diary plantation but the word plantation is indicative of forced labor so we don’t like to use that word anymore.
Plantation slavery was abolished in 1865 more or less in most parts but here on the French side it was abolished earlier — in 1857. The freed slaves vacated. Now sugar cane if you don’t take care of it falls over and dies. Other kinds of vegetation took back the property very quickly, that’s how mother nature works around here.
As a result, this forest is made up of thousands and thousands of years of natural evolution and trees arriving here through different forms like high winds from hurricanes and actual human seed distribution. One way or another the Australian pines that frame the Fleming cemetery plot, also known as Whispering Pines, made their way here. If there were any kind of breeze going on right now they would be speaking to us – making this mystical mysterious sound. It’s not infrequent that it happens to me when I come here to visit my surrogate family and I visit them often because it’s important that they understand that I’m trying preserve the same spirit that they had when they were alive.