Category: Amuseum Naturalis

We’re Relaunching Amuseum Naturalis

Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House is being prepared for a 2018 launch.

After delighting over 10,000 visitors in its first two years, Amuseum Naturalis is coming back in a new location in 2018. St. Martin’s first natural history museum will be expanding to highlight island heritage and culture as well as nature. At the new location, formerly The Old House museum, there will also be community projects including gardens, a composting center and a native plants nursery.

“We are thrilled to create a space to tell all the stories of St. Martin!” announced Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “We’re working with the local community to find and tell stories. We especially want to shine a light on heritage that’s been ignored or suppressed, and show how the island’s history and culture is fascinating and meaningful.”

Amuseum Naturalis is developed and operated by the Les Fruits de Mer association. The group believes this project is important for many reasons. Local school systems are already under stress after Hurricane Irma. School materials on the island come from Europe or North America, and don’t teach enough about local nature or heritage. The Amuseum has been, and will be, free for all. It is a place where young people can discover science and history, and develop valuable skills.

Amuseum Naturalis had over 10,000 visitors in the last two years.

“We’re really happy to see the amount of support the Amuseum is getting,” commented Amuseum curator Mark Yokoyama. “Volunteers have been coming to help clear the property and prepare the site. Everyone who comes falls in love with this place. People from around the world have been supporting with donations. It’s a big project, but together we can make it happen for the island!”

Amuseum volunteers pause for a photo after a recent clean-up session.

Les Fruits de Mer are currently working with volunteers to prepare the new location every weekend, and more volunteers are always welcome. The next volunteer day is Saturday, March 17th, and more information is available at lesfruitsdemer.com and on the Les Fruits de Mer Facebook page. There is also a crowdfunding campaign raising funds until March 30th. St. Martiners interested in sharing stories or ideas about topics to feature in the museum should contact [email protected].

Les Fruits de Mer Association Welcomes St. Martin to The Old House on Saturday

Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House is a free museum of St. Martin nature, heritage and culture.

The all-volunteer Les Fruits de Mer association is looking forward to welcoming the people of St. Martin to The Old House on this Saturday, April 20th. The Old House is the ending point of the peaceful march organized by the Collectivité of Saint-Martin to defend local land and heritage. The Collectivité is organizing a Family Day at The Old House following the march. For the last six years, The Old House has been home to Amuseum Naturalis, a free museum of local nature, heritage and culture, created by Les Fruits de Mer. 

“We believe it is vital to preserve The Old House,” said Les Fruits de Mer president Jenn Yerkes. “Dating back to 1766, this is one of the island’s most important heritage sites. We are grateful to the Collectivité for their dedication to preserving this site and to acquiring the Beauperthuy lands to use for the benefit of the people of St. Martin. We look forward to the historic march on the 20th of April and spending time at The Old House with everyone who comes out!.”

The Old House is an important St. Martin heritage site.

Les Fruits de Mer volunteers have been getting Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House ready for a record crowd on April 20th. They have also been preparing books about St. Martin for kids and people of all ages to give away for free at the Family Day event. There will be a coloring station for kids to enjoy. There will also be an oral history station. Volunteers from the association will be present to answer questions about the museum and its exhibits.

“Our volunteer team is working hard to prepare for this historic event,” said museum manager Mark Yokoyama. “We are pulling together about 1,500 books to give away at the event. We have coloring and activity books about St. Martin nature, collections of oral histories of St. Martiners and more. The Old House is my favorite place on earth. It will be a joy to share it with people as we stand together for the future of the island.”

An all-volunteer team has been developing and maintaining Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House for the past six years.

Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House is a free community museum of St. Martin nature, heritage and culture. It is open daily from sunrise to sunset. It hosts free visits for schools on both sides of the island. It is created and maintained by an all-volunteer team. 

March to Save The Old House, Saturday April 20th

Dear Les Fruits de Mer members, volunteers and friends,

We’ve been working together for more than six years to preserve and share a very special part of St. Martin heritage: The Old House. Today, our dreams for this site and the thousands of hours we have worked there are at risk. After over 50 years in dispute in the courts, the property where The Old House is located has been scheduled for auction on May 13th. The local government (Collectivité of St. Martin) is working to buy this and other disputed lands so it can use them to the benefit of the St. Martin people.

Will this amazing place be saved for the benefit of this island and its people, or will it be destroyed? It seems we will find out soon.

But before then, we hope you can join us in celebrating this magical space where we have shared so much with each other, and with the entire community. On Saturday, April 20th, the Collectivité of St. Martin has organized a history-making peaceful march to The Old House. This is a chance for all of us to proclaim that St. Martin heritage and The Old House must be saved.

We hope you can attend. We would love to spend this time with you. Everyone who has been a part of this incredible project deserves to be there on this day. If it is one of the last great moments we spend there together, then we hope you can be there. We hope it is the beginning of something even more magical we do there together, and for that we also want you to be there with us.

If you can attend, let us know. If you want to volunteer at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House on this historic day, let us know. If you can’t be there, spread the word!

Thank you! No matter where you are in the world, let’s celebrate this moment in solidarity.

Fruits forever!

More details about the peaceful march:
Saturday April 20th
09:45am: meet at Cadisco in Chevrise
10:00am: peaceful march to The Old House, followed by Family Day at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House

Launch and Free Giveaway For New Coloring Book This Saturday!

For each creature, there is a coloring page, and space to practice writing its name in four of the languages spoken on this island.

The Les Fruits de Mer association invites the public to celebrate the launch of a new coloring book, Soualiga Creatures. The free launch event will take place from 9am to noon this Saturday, March 16th at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. The new book spotlights the incredible insects and other little creatures of St. Martin. It will be given away for free at the launch. The event will also feature a coloring station, and a craft station where kids and adults can decorate creature-themed fabric bags. The author will be present for book signing.

Soualiga Creatures is the latest in the association’s popular Soualiga series of multi-lingual “color and learn” books for young children. Earlier books in the series include Soualiga Island, Soualiga Sea, and Soualiga Birds. Future topics planned for the series include St. Martin plants and heritage.

“Soualiga is one of the Amerindian names for St. Martin,” said author Jenn Yerkes. “English is the most common language spoken on this island. But it’s been a richly multi-lingual place for a very long time! That’s why our association makes multi-lingual books for the kids here. In the Soualiga series, everything is in English, French, Spanish and Dutch.”

Soualiga Creatures stars some of the tiniest of St. Martin’s amazing animals, especially insects. It’s a great look at the fascinating little critters that fly, crawl, glide and jump around on this island. There is a visual guide on the back cover with vivid color photos of all the featured creatures. This encourages kids to learn what they look like, and spot them in the wild. Inside, kids will find a coloring page for each creature with its name in all four languages. Each one also has a page where they can practice writing the names of the creature.

Soualiga Creatures is the newest “color and learn” book, starring the little creatures of St. Martin.

“Reading and writing are key skills for everyone. This series makes it fun to learn them by showcasing wildlife from this island that kids can see around them, or discover through the books. We hear from St. Martin educators and parents that the local topics help kids connect more with reading and writing,” said Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “This series is especially designed to inspire kids to practice handwriting. And to give teachers a great tool to encourage their students to practice it, too!”

“With multi-lingual books, parents and family members who might speak a different language at home can participate in kids’ education,” added Jenn Yerkes. “Plus, it’s fun for everyone to learn creature names in different languages!”

The free launch event and book giveaway of Soualiga Creatures will be held at Amuseum Naturalis on Saturday, March 16th from 9am to noon, thanks to Delta Petroleum. Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of nature and heritage located in French Quarter, St. Martin. It is open every day from sunrise to sunset.

The book is also available as a free download from https://lesfruitsdemer.com, and for purchase on amazon.com worldwide. Teachers and youth group leaders interested in copies are encouraged to contact Les Fruits de Mer at [email protected]. Companies, organizations or individuals interested in sponsoring copies for schools are also encouraged to contact the association.

Free printed copies of Soualiga Creatures are being given to local schools and students as part of Les Fruits de Mer’s 2024 book giveaway program.This project is supported by the Politique de la ville de Saint-Martin, implemented by the State and the Collectivité de Saint-Martin. Distribution of this book to students in Sandy Ground is supported by the Cité Éducative de Saint-Martin. Soualiga Creatures was produced with support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

Distribution of Soualiga Creatures to students in Sandy Ground is supported by the Cité Éducative de Saint-Martin.
This project is supported by the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.
Delta Petroleum is a proud sponsor of Les Fruits de Mer’s book giveaway program.

Launch and Free Giveaway of Two New Bird Books this Saturday!

Soualikids Birds is a multilingual word book with bright photos of St. Martin birds.

The public is invited to celebrate the launch of two new books in the Soualikids children’s series produced by the Les Fruits de Mer association! The free launch event will take place from 9am to noon this Saturday, February 10th at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. The two new books in the series, Soualikids Birds and Soualkids Birds Coloring Book, star St. Martin’s birds. These two books will be given away for free at the event, which will feature a coloring station. The author and photographer will be present for book signing.

The Les Fruits de Mer association developed the Soualikids series based on requests from St. Martin educators and parents for materials about this island for toddlers and pre-school age kids. Each book in the series is a quadrilingual word book, in four of the many languages spoken here: English, French, Spanish and Dutch. The goal of the series is to highlight St. Martin nature, culture, and heritage, to help little kids build early word skills about the special place where they live.

“The series is called ‘Soualikids’ because it was created for the kids of St. Martin, and Soualiga is one of the Amerindian names for this island,” explained author Jenn Yerkes. “The nature books in this series are designed in pairs: a first book with wildlife photos, and a second companion book with fun coloring pages of the same wildlife. We’re so excited to launch the second pair of books, which showcase amazing birds that kids can see here on St. Martin!”

Soualikids Birds is a full-color “look and learn” picture book, full of colorful photos of fabulous local birds. The companion Soualikids Birds Coloring Book is a “color and learn” book with two fun coloring pages for each of the birds. It also has a visual guide on the back cover with bright photos of all the birds presented. Both books include bird names in all four languages.

Soualikids Birds Coloring Book has two fun coloring pages for each animal, and bird names in four languages.

“Adults can share these books with little kids, to help them build their vocabulary and discover the incredible birds on their own island!” said Mark Yokoyama, co-founder of the Les Fruits de Mer association. “We’ll be giving free printed copies of both of these books to local preschools as part of Les Fruits de Mer’s 2024 book giveaway program. And more Soualikids books are on the way that spotlight island creatures, and St. Martin art and culture!”

The free launch event and book giveaway will be held at Amuseum Naturalis on Saturday, Saturday, February 10th from 9am to noon. Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of nature and heritage located in French Quarter, St. Martin. It is open every day from sunrise to sunset.

Both new books are also available as free downloads from https://lesfruitsdemer.com, and for purchase on amazon.com worldwide. Teachers and youth group leaders interested in copies are encouraged to contact Les Fruits de Mer at [email protected]. Companies, organizations or individuals interested in sponsoring copies for schools are also encouraged to contact the association.

Les Fruits de Mer’s 2024 book giveaway program is supported by the Politique de la ville de Saint-Martin, implemented by the State and the Collectivité de Saint-Martin. Soualikids Birds and Soualikids Birds Coloring Book were produced with support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

This project is supported by the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

New Activity Book Launches With Free Giveaway This Saturday!

Incredibilia! Activity Book is a new book of fun facts and activities about local nature.

The Les Fruits de Mer association invites the public to the launch of the first Incredibilia! Activity Book, a new book of fun facts and activities about local nature. The free, festive launch event will be held this Saturday, December 23 from 9am to noon at Amuseum Naturalis. It will feature cookie decorating and an art activity station. Kids and adults will enjoy personalizing wood ornaments in the shapes of St. Martin wildlife. Free copies of both the new Incredibilia! Activity Book and the original Incredibilia! book will be given away at the event.

The new Incredibilia! Activity Book is bilingual in French and English, with 80 pages of amazing St. Martin nature stories, mazes, word games, coloring pages, and creative writing activities. The association created the new book in response to the requests of St. Martin educators to expand the original Incredibilia! book into a coloring and activity book.

“On this island, we’re surrounded by nature,” said author Jenn Yerkes. “And there are really cool things to discover about it, like why a caterpillar would eat poison. And which bird has a built-in comb in its foot!” These incredible true nature stories are the perfect inspiration for the activities in the book, she adds. “One writing activity invites you to imagine what would happen if you would walk up walls like a gecko, and write a story about it!”

The book is bilingual in English and French.

The Incredibilia! Activity Book draws on selections from Yerkes’ popular weekly St. Martin nature series “Le saviez-vous ?” published in Le Pélican. The French parts of the book were edited thanks to the editing team of Le Pélican.

“It’s packed with fascinating natural and cultural heritage as well as fun activities,” said Mark Yokoyama, co-founder of Les Fruits de Mer. “And it makes a great holiday gift,” added Yerkes. “So pass by and get a free copy at the Amuseum this Saturday morning!”

Free copies of the new Incredibilia! Activity Book and the original Incredibilia! will be given away, thanks to Vie Associative and the Politique de la ville de Saint-Martin. The giveaways will be offered at the launch, along with coloring, art activities and cookie decorating. The free event will be held on Saturday, December 23rd at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter from 9am to noon.

The launch’s free art activities include decorating ornaments in the shapes of St. Martin wildlife.

The book is also available as a free download from https://lesfruitsdemer.com, and for purchase on amazon.com worldwide. Teachers and youth group leaders interested in copies are encouraged to contact Les Fruits de Mer at [email protected]. Companies, organizations or individuals interested in sponsoring copies for schools are also encouraged to contact the association.

Free printed copies of the Incredibilia! Activity Book will also be given to local schools as part of Les Fruits de Mer’s 2023 book giveaway program. This project is supported by Vie Associative and the Politique de la ville de Saint-Martin, implemented by the State and the Collectivité de Saint-Martin. The Incredibilia! Activity Book was produced with support from Vie Associative, the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

This project is supported by the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires, through Vie Associative and Politique de la Ville.

St. Martin Sea Life Book Launch

Thanks to everyone who came to the St. Martin Sea Life book launch! We are happy to share this book with sea and nature loving people! If you missed it, the book is available online for free in English and French. You can also follow those links to buy a copy online.

This book is also headed into St. Martin schools in a special bilingual edition as part of our school book program. Find out more about this amazing program and make a donation here.

This book was made possible with the financial support of the Office of Biodiversity of France, thanks to a micro-grant from Te Me Um, a program from the Office of Biodiversity of France to support biodiversity in French overseas territories (TErres et MErs UltraMarines).

New Book Highlights The Old House as a Place of Heritage and History

The Old House is a new bilingual book by the Les Fruits de Mer association about The Old House, an 18th century home in French Quarter.

Overlooking Coconut Grove in French Quarter, The Old House has been a part of St. Martin’s history for over 250 years. Very few buildings from its era survive today. A new bilingual book by the Les Fruits de Mer association, The Old House, highlights this landmark and the stories that surround it.

“In many ways, The Old House itself represents the story of St. Martin,” explained Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “The building showcases the craftsmanship of many generations of St. Martiners, from those who laid the foundations in the 1700s to those who did carpentry, tile and cement work in the last century.”

The book includes a historical look at The Old House, which reflects the history of the island. During the colonial period, a variety of crops were raised by enslaved people for the benefit of slaveholding families and colonial governments. Around the time of Emancipation, the industry shifted to salt production on the Orient Bay salt pond, which continued until the late 1950s. In 2000, the house itself became a museum developed and run by Pierre Beauperthuy.

The book explores various aspects of The Old House, from its architecture and craftsmanship to its role in salt production and its representation in art. The book includes interviews with Elise Hyman, who worked at the Orient Bay salt pond in her youth, and Sir Roland Richardson, who created an etching of the house and showcased it in an early issue of Discover magazine.

“Sadly, The Old House is one of very few old buildings left on St. Martin,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “This makes the house itself, and its story, even more important. The destruction of two historical sites on the island already this year shows how vulnerable local heritage is. When these old buildings are destroyed, history is erased. The history of enslavement and enslaved people is especially vulnerable. With fewer written records of their lives, the things they built are a key part of their legacy. The history of the culturally-rich traditional period between Emancipation and the rise of tourism is also being lost along with these buildings.”

The Old House book is bilingual in French and English. It is available for free online at lesfruitsdemer.com. A printed edition will be available in the coming weeks. The public is welcome to visit Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House every day of the week from sunrise to sunset. The free museum features exhibits about The Old House itself, and many other parts of St. Martin’s nature, heritage and culture.

Trilingual Poetry Book by Lasana M. Sekou Launches Saturday with Signing and Free Give-away Event

6 Poems by Lasana M. Sekou is an introduction to the author’s work presented in English, French, and Spanish.

The public is invited to celebrate the launch of 6 Poems / 6 Poèmes / 6 Poemas by Lasana M. Sekou on Saturday, February 4. The launch and free give-away of the new book will be held at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter from 9 am to 12 noon.

The author, St. Martin poet and writer Lasana M. Sekou, will be present to sign copies of 6 Poems, and light refreshments will be served for all to enjoy, said the Les Fruits de Mer association, publisher of the book. The launch event is part of the 32nd annual Black History Celebration organized island-wide by Conscious Lyrics Foundation.

The book presents six poems by Sekou in three languages: English, French and Spanish. It was created by Sekou and Les Fruits de Mer for distribution to students, schools, and the public. The internationally renowned author has published over 20 books, said Les Fruits de Mer. St. Martin and its people are often the focus of his writing.

“For the last 40 years, Sekou’s poetry has been a vital expression of St. Martin culture and identity. It was a privilege to develop 6 Poems together to help make his work accessible to more people, especially youth,” said Mark Yokoyama, editor at Les Fruits de Mer.

“We selected poems with themes of the island’s past and present, its traditions, elders, art, and spirit. We chose to present them in French and Spanish, as well as the original English, to make them more available to more people here. And we will be giving hundreds of copies to schools and students,” said Yokoyama, who is also an author.

St. Martin poet and writer Lasana M. Sekou will be present to sign copies of his new book at the launch event on Saturday, February 4, between 9 am and noon. (Photo by Ryan Tackling)

The slim volume includes new translations by Alex Richards, Fabian Adekunle Badejo, and Jocelyne Illidge. A new exhibit in the Amuseum’s poetry garden will be unveiled at the launch event, featuring the poems from the book in three languages.

6 Poems is an outcome of the St. Martin literature panels and poetry in the park exhibits that Mark Yokoyama, Jenn Yerkes, and Les Fruits de Mer have initiated at Amuseum Naturalis. The association is known for its fascinating books for children and adults about St. Martin’s wildlife from the land, air, and sea,” said Sekou.

“It’s an honor to be one of the writers with work being made visible to young people, parents, teachers, visitors, all who visit the museum. With 6 Poems some of that writing can be taken home and into classrooms and media centers of schools throughout our island,” said Sekou.

The 6 Poems collection is also available as a free download from lesfruitsdemer.com, and for purchase on amazon.com worldwide. Teachers and youth group leaders interested in copies are encouraged to contact Les Fruits de Mer at [email protected]. Companies, organizations, or individuals interested in sponsoring copies for schools are encouraged to contact the association, said Yokoyama.

Free printed copies of 6 Poems by Lasana M. Sekou will be given to St. Martin schools as part of Les Fruits de Mer’s book give-away program, said Yokoyama. This project was funded by the Collectivité de Saint-Martin through Vie Associative. Permission to publish the poems in this volume was granted by House of Nehesi Publishers and Sekou.

New Nature Book Launches With Free Giveaway This Saturday!

Incredibilia! is a new book of fun facts about local nature.

The Les Fruits de Mer association invites the public to the launch of Incredibilia!, a new book of fun facts about local nature. The bilingual book reveals the amazing secrets and superpowers of 20 plants and animals found on this island. Bursting with vivid color photos and captivating natural and cultural heritage, Incredibilia! is sure to mesmerize readers young and old.

“On St. Martin, nature is all around us. And it’s full of really wild surprises!” said author Jenn Yerkes. “There are absolutely incredible things to discover, even about the plants and animals we see every day. Like what helps a gecko walk up walls. Or how a bird builds a stretchy nest that expands as its chicks get bigger. Or why a fish would make a sleeping bag out of its own snot!”

The association created the book in response to requests and questions from young people on St. Martin. Les Fruits de Mer cofounder Mark Yokoyama said, “Kids and youth are curious. They have a ton of questions when they visit the museum or read our other books. Once they start, they want to find out more and more.” “When some young folks asked us make a book about what animals do and why, we thought it was a great idea!” said Yerkes. To develop the book, she drew on selections from her popular weekly St. Martin nature series “Le saviez-vous ?” published in Le Pélican. The French parts of the book were edited thanks to the editing team of Le Pélican.

“This book is a fascinating look at how local nature works behind the scenes,” said Yokoyama. “And it would make a great holiday gift for people of all ages,” added Yerkes. “So we’re inviting people to pass by and get a free copy at the Amuseum this Saturday morning!”

To launch the book, a free giveaway event will be held on Saturday, December 17th at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter. Free copies of Incredibilia! will be given away from 9am to noon, thanks to Vie Associative and the Politique de la ville de Saint-Martin.

The book is bilingual in English and French.

The book is also available as a free download from https://lesfruitsdemer.com, and for purchase on amazon.com worldwide. Teachers and youth group leaders interested in copies are encouraged to contact Les Fruits de Mer at [email protected]. Companies, organizations or individuals interested in sponsoring copies for schools are also encouraged to contact the association.

Free printed copies of Incredibilia! will also be given to local schools as part of Les Fruits de Mer’s 2022 book giveaway program. This project is supported by Vie Associative and the Politique de la ville de Saint-Martin, implemented by the State and the Collectivité de Saint-Martin. Incredibilia! was produced with support from Vie Associative, the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

This project is supported by the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires, through Vie Associative and Politique de la Ville.

New Sargassum Book Launches With Free Giveaway This Saturday!

Suddenly, Sargassum! is a new book about sargassum on St. Martin.

If you have wondered why tons of sargassum have been washing up on St. Martin shores for the last decade, now you can find out. The story is told in the new book, Suddenly, Sargassum! The book was produced by the Les Fruits de Mer association and explores many aspects of this mysterious seaweed.

“The sudden arrival of sargassum in St. Martin is a big story,” said author Mark Yokoyama. “In recent years, we’ve learned about the unseen forces that bring sargassum here each year. We’ve also seen how it impacts people and nature.”

Suddenly, Sargassum! reveals many facets of this unusual seaweed. It includes guides to the creatures that depend on it, both in the sea and on the land. It outlines the process that brings sargassum blooms to St. Martin. It investigates the impacts of sargassum and even how it inspires art.

To launch the book, a free book giveaway event will be held on Saturday, October 1st at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter from 9am to noon. Free copies of the book will be available in both English and French. A new exhibit about sargassum will also be launched.

The book was researched and written over the past year. Vivid photos reveal an entire world of life that is hidden in the sargassum, from microscopic sea creatures to birds that have learned to hunt and forage in it.

This book and the exhibit were produced with the financial support of the Office francais de la biodiversité, through a micro-project grant from Te Me Um. As part of the project, free copies of the book will be distributed to local schools, libraries and other institutions.

Suddenly, Sargassum! was produced with the financial support of the Office francais de la biodiversité, through a microproject grant from Te Me Um.

New Coloring Book Highlights the Insects of St. Martin

Insects Around Me is a new coloring book and nature journal featuring St. Martin insects.

The Les Fruits de Mer association has published a new coloring book, Insects Around Me. The book showcases 40 insects that live on St. Martin. The book is also a nature journal, where kids can record their own observations and make their own drawings of animals. 

“Insects are all around us, and they are easy to observe,” said author Mark Yokoyama. “Kids are fascinated by insects. They make a perfect gateway to discovery and learning, and we think this book can help.”

The book spotlights the wide variety of colorful insects found on St. Martin. For each species, there is an illustrated coloring page with a short description of the insect. There’s also a space to take notes on any sightings of the insect, and a place to do a drawing of it. There is also a visual guide on the back cover with color photos of each insect. These features encourage kids to observe these creatures in the wild.

For each insect, there is a coloring page, and space to record observations and make drawings.

“In this book, everything is in English and French,” added Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “We wanted the book to be more versatile on this multi-lingual island. This also means the book can be a language-learning tool, too.”

Free copies of Insects Around Me will be given away at Amuseum Naturalis on Saturday, September 17th from 9am to noon. Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of nature and heritage located in French Quarter, St. Martin. It is open every day from sunrise to sunset.

The book is also available as a free download from lesfruitsdemer.com. Teachers and youth group leaders interested in copies are encouraged to contact Les Fruits de Mer at [email protected]. Companies or individuals interested in sponsoring copies for schools are also encouraged to contact the association. The book is also available on amazon.com worldwide.

Insects Around Me was produced with support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires. This project is supported by the politique de la ville de Saint-Martin, implemented by the State and the Collectivité de Saint-Martin.

This project is supported by the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

New Exhibit at Amuseum Naturalis Showcases Plants Unique to St. Martin

The new exhibit tells the story of unique local plants.

Over 100 years ago, a pair of unique plants were discovered on St. Martin. The St. Martin Rodwood and St. Martin Milk Pea are part of this island’s unique natural heritage. New exhibit panels featuring these plants are now on display at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter.

The Caribbean is home to a variety of unique plants. Many are found on only a few islands. Others, like the St. Martin Rodwood, are only found on one island. Often, these special plants have adapted to life in the most difficult spots on the island.

“The St. Martin Rodwood is only seen in dry areas of the Lowlands with limestone soil,” said exhibit co-creator Mark Yokoyama. “It is hard for plants to grow there, but the Rodwood is adapted to that habitat, so it thrives there.”

The tiny St. Martin Milk Pea is found mostly on rocky cliffs.

Plants that are found only in a specific habitat, like seaside cliffs, can be hard to notice. In fact, between 1954 and 2021 no one had seen or collected the St. Martin Rodwood or the St. Martin Milk Pea. Some thought these plants could even be extinct. Luckily, they were rediscovered by researchers. The Bivouac Naturaliste association rediscovered the St. Martin Milk Pea during their 2021 survey, and collaborated with the Les Fruits de Mer association on the new exhibit.

“These special plants are part of the natural heritage that everyone on St. Martin shares,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “We’re really excited to put them in the spotlight! It’s also a reminder that if we want these unique plants to survive, we need to protect the unique wild spaces where they live.”

Amuseum Naturalis is located at The Old House in French Quarter. It is always free to visit, and all displays are now outdoors. Guests are welcome to make a self-guided visit any time during daylight hours, any day of the week. For more information, visit amuseumnaturalis.com.

This exhibit and other projects were made possible by support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

The St. Martin Rodwood lives only on St. Martin and nowhere else in the world.

New Exhibits Feature French Translations of Local Poetry

The new exhibits are on permanent display in the poetry area in front of the Amuseum.

Three new poetry exhibits at Amuseum Naturalis feature French translations of poetry by St. Martin authors. The exhibits include poems from ten different poets. The translations were done by St. Martin translator Alex Richards.

“Poetry on St. Martin is a powerful expression of culture and identity,” said Jenn Yerkes, co-curator of Amuseum Naturalis. “And poetry translation is an art. We knew it would take a specialized translator from this island to capture the nuance and spirit of these poems, so we were delighted to partner with Alex Richards on this!”

Reflections/Réflexions exhibits poetry and paintings by Lady Ruby Bute.

Two of the exhibits feature selections from recently published books: Reflections by Ruby Bute and SOS: Season of Storms by Fabian Badejo. The third exhibit features poems from ten different St. Martin poets.

All of these exhibits are also displayed at the Amuseum in the original English. Since English has historically been the primary language on the island, almost all St. Martin poetry has been written in English. Often, authors use St. Martin English, which has its own unique words, phrases and grammar.

“St. Martin has a rich culture that is hundreds of years old,” explained co-curator Mark Yokoyama. “In recent decades, many people have immigrated here, including many French-speakers who struggle with the island’s main language, English. French translations of local poetry create a chance for them to experience part of St. Martin’s culture. This is one step on the path to integrating new residents into St. Martin society.”

Season of Storms/Saison des Tempêtes showcases poetry by Fabian A. Badejo.

The new exhibits are on permanent display in the poetry area in front of the Amuseum. Amuseum Naturalis is located at The Old House in French Quarter. It is always free to visit, and all displays are now outdoors. Guests are welcome to make a self-guided visit any time during daylight hours, any day of the week. For more information, visit amuseumnaturalis.com.

These exhibits and other projects were made possible by support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires. The exhibits were also made possible by the poets who generously gave permission for their work to be translated and exhibited.

New Poetry Exhibits at Amuseum Naturalis Showcase Local Authors

Reflections exhibits the poetry and paintings of Lady Ruby Bute.

There are two new outdoor poetry exhibits at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. They both showcase poetry from recently released books by local authors. The Season of Storms exhibit presents poetry from S.O.S. Season of Storms by Fabian A. Badejo. An exhibit featuring the work of Lady Ruby Bute spotlights poems and paintings from her new book, Reflections.

“We are delighted to share these wonderful exhibits,” said Amuseum co-founder Jenn Yerkes. “Lady Ruby Bute and Fabian Badejo have been important contributors to St. Martin’s literature and arts for decades, and we are very proud to feature their work at the Amuseum.”

Season of Storms is a new exhibit of poetry by Fabian A. Badejo.

The Season of Storms exhibit focuses on Badejo’s poetry about Hurricane Irma, recent protests and the coronavirus pandemic. It also includes details from the book’s powerful cover art, painted by Ras Mosera.

The Reflections exhibit presents vivid poetry and paintings by Ruby Bute. Many of them highlight St. Martin heritage and traditions, from the outdoor market to J’ouvert morning festivities.

Amuseum Naturalis is located at The Old House in French Quarter. It is always free to visit, and all displays are now outdoors. Guests are welcome to make a self-guided visit any time during daylight hours, any day of the week. The new exhibits are on permanent display in the poetry area in front of the house. For more information, visit amuseumnaturalis.com.

These exhibits and other projects were made possible by support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

New Activity Book Highlights St. Martin Nature and Heritage

Super St. Martin! is a new bilingual activity book featuring St. Martin nature and heritage.

The Les Fruits de Mer association has published a new activity book, Super St. Martin! This unique bilingual activity book invites young people to explore and celebrate the amazing nature and heritage of the island of St. Martin. It has over a hundred pages of discovery and fun, with mazes, word games, coloring pages, creative writing activities, and much more. The book features over 150 plants and animals that can be seen on St. Martin, including some that are only found here, and nowhere else in the world!

The book is bursting with fun activities like mazes, word games, coloring, and creative writing and drawing.

“We hope St. Martin kids and families will really enjoy this book, during the holiday season and beyond,” said author Jenn Yerkes. “It’s important for kids to have books about where they live. Imagine doing a word search with local names for birds, inventing short stories about this island’s night creatures, dreaming up a new kind of insect, or creating a beautiful floral pattern for a traditional dress!”

“Every activity is in both English and French, so it can also be a great tool for language learners,” added Mark Yokoyama, co-founder of Les Fruits de Mer.

Sponsor Delta Petroleum has provided 100 free copies for individuals to pick up at Amuseum Naturalis.

One hundred free copies of Super St. Martin! are being given away at Amuseum Naturalis in December and January thanks to sponsor Delta Petroleum. Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of nature and heritage located in French Quarter, St. Martin. It is open every day from sunrise to sunset.

The book is also available as a free download from https://lesfruitsdemer.com. Teachers and youth group leaders interested in copies are encouraged to contact Les Fruits de Mer at [email protected]. Companies or individuals interested in sponsoring copies for schools are also encouraged to contact the association. The book is also available on amazon.com worldwide.

Super St. Martin! was produced with support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin, the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires, and Delta Petroleum.

Start the Growing Season Right with Free Plants from Amuseum Naturalis

The free plant stand at Amuseum Naturalis will have extra plants this month.

The beginning of the fall rainy season is a traditional time for planting on St. Martin. To take advantage of the growing season, stop by the Les Fruits de Mer association’s free plant stand at Amuseum Naturalis! Thanks to support from Delta Petroleum, they will have special plants available and some free books about plants.

“We have a free plant stand at Amuseum Naturalis that we stock all year, but right now is the best time to get those plants into the ground,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “We give away about 1,000 plants every year. We focus on native tree seedlings, and heritage plants like herbs and fruit tree seedlings. We want to help people create a space for birds and other animals in their backyard or neighborhood. We also want to support local plant traditions.”

Some of the local tree seedlings include calabash, lignum vitae, soursop, coco plum and sugar apple. Heritage plants include paracetamol, stinging thyme, lemongrass and Malabar spinach. The association will be filling the free plant stand with extra stock for the rest of the month. On Saturday, September 25th, they will give away free copies of Plantilles: Plants of St. Martin from 9am to noon while supplies last.

Free copies of Plantilles: Plants of St. Martin will be available on Saturday, September 25th while supplies last.

“We are really happy to support the free plant program,” said Natalia Ayala, Delta Petroleum Island Manager. “At Delta St. Martin, gardening and plant traditions are really important to our employees, families and customers. We love that we can help bring life to the island.”

Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of nature and heritage in French Quarter.

The free plant stand is located directly in front of Amuseum Naturalis, at The Old House in French Quarter. The plant stand and the museum are always free to visit. Guests are welcome to make a self-guided visit any time during daylight hours, any day of the week. For more information, visit amuseumnaturalis.com.

Delta Petroleum is the sponsor of the free plant stand at Amuseum Naturalis.

Exhibit of French Quarter Etchings by Sir Roland Richardson Opens at Amuseum Naturalis

The Last Frontier is a new exhibit of etchings and memories of French Quarter by Sir Roland Richardson.

A new outdoor exhibit is now open at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. The exhibit is titled The Last Frontier: Sir Roland Richardson’s French Quarter. It features etchings of people and places in French Quarter, and Richardson’s memories of the time he lived there. Visitors can come and enjoy the exhibit any time from sunrise to sunset, any day of the week.

“We are so excited to share this with St. Martin,” said Amuseum co-founder Mark Yokoyama, who developed the exhibit with Richardson. “It is an exhibit about art, and about French Quarter, and about St. Martin’s past. Sir Roland’s etchings aren’t as well-known as his paintings, but they are historical treasures. This exhibit presents them much larger than life size, and the detail is amazing. Combined with his memories, this is an exhibit that transports you to a time and place that no longer exists.”

The Last Frontier features eight Richardson etchings. Subjects include an etching of the house where Richardson lived in French Quarter, and The Old House, the historic building where Amuseum Naturalis is located. The text, taken from interviews with Richardson, reveals a French Quarter where traditions still survived on a rapidly changing island. He also shares insights into his artistic process.

Sir Roland Richardson remembers his time in French Quarter fondly, “I felt that was part of my real privilege, that opportunity to sleep with my doors open. I didn’t have any worries and I felt totally at home, but I felt really privileged to have out of every door or window where I looked, the natural landscape. I did a huge, huge body of work during those years.”

The Last Frontier features French Quarter people and places, like The Old House.

Amuseum Naturalis is located at The Old House in French Quarter. It is always free to visit, and all displays are now outdoors. Guests are welcome to make a self-guided visit any time during daylight hours, any day of the week. The Last Frontier is on permanent display just in front of the house. For more information, visit amuseumnaturalis.com.

This exhibit and other projects were made possible by support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires.

New Stories at the Amuseum!

Building a guest house, surviving a hurricane, harvesting salt, teaching painting: St. Martin people have many stories to tell. At Amuseum Naturalis, we have added an exhibit with six stories from six St. Martiners. You can read in their own words about their life experiences and accomplishments. In every story, you can learn about the way St. Martin once was, and how it came to be the way it is today. Visit the Amuseum for free!

Special thanks to the participants who shared their stories and the Les Fruits de Mer interview teams that recorded these oral histories!

The Book of Cures at Amuseum Naturalis

Would you like to explore medicine and life on St. Martin in the 19th century? Amuseum Naturalis recently added a new exhibit featuring a 19th century medical notebook from St. Martin. The exhibit explores the text of the notebook and what it can tell us about St. Martin at that time. The exhibit is in the front yard of Amuseum Naturalis, visit any time during the day. You can also download a book on the same topic here: The Book of Cures.

Amuseum Naturalis Announces July 7th Reopening

Amuseum Naturalis is located at The Old House in French Quarter.

After closing for lockdown, St. Martin’s free nature and heritage museum Amuseum Naturalis will be reopening in “park mode” for the public to enjoy safely! Starting Tuesday, July 7th, guests are invited to make self-guided visits during daylight hours to the outdoor areas, including the open-air Amuseum exhibit hall, and outside exhibit areas, viewpoints and gardens including the agriculture heritage displays, bush tea garden, and the St. Martin poetry exhibits. 

Amuseum Naturalis is located at the historic Old House in French Quarter. It is created and run by the all-volunteer Les Fruits de Mer association, and presents more than 40 fascinating exhibits showcasing the unique wildlife, culture and history of St. Martin. 

“With outdoor exhibits and beautiful views, we hope that the Amuseum can be a fun and safe place to enjoy nature and heritage during a tough time,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “Our top concern is the safety of the community, so we ask that visitors follow safety instructions so we can stay open.”

The Amuseum features outdoor exhibits and scenic views.

To keep the community safe, properly worn masks are required for all visitors, as well as respecting physical distance of 2 meters between non-household members. Hand sanitizer will be available. Visitors will need to bring their own drinking water.

For now, guided group visits and activities are not available, to protect the community. However, teachers and youth group leaders are encouraged to contact [email protected] to find out about the many things that are currently offered to schools and youth groups, including free books and other free, fun educational resources. 

Access to the indoor areas and services of the Amuseum is now available by appointment on a case-by-case basis. These include Soualibra, the free research library about St. Martin, and the free Heritage Preservation services. Those interested are invited to contact [email protected] for more information.

St. Martin poetry exhibits showcase local authors.

The Amuseum can also be visited virtually at any time at http://amuseumnaturalis.com/. The Amuseum@Home program of free ebooks, activities, short films and games based on St. Martin nature and heritage are available at https://www.lesfruitsdemer.com/category/athome/ or by visiting Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook. The free Heritage Backup program and tools are available at https://www.lesfruitsdemer.com/projects/heritage-backup/.

Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House is located on the hill above Le Galion. Entry is free to all. More information and a map are available at http://amuseumnaturalis.com/.

Les Fruits de Mer Donates Exhibit Panels to French Quarter School

Some Les Fruits de Mer volunteers with the panels that were donated to Omer Arrondell Primary School.

Classroom walls at Omer Arrondell Primary School in French Quarter have gotten a lot more exciting. The Les Fruits de Mer association donated copies of 24 panels from Amuseum Naturalis to the school. The educational panels cover a variety of local nature and heritage topics and will rotate through the different classes.

“Our association’s mission is to share all the things that make St. Martin special,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “A lot of that is missing from school lesson plans, so this was a great opportunity to literally get this information into the classroom in a fun and colorful way.”

The panels were made as part of Les Fruits de Mer’s project Quartier+Museé. The project goal is to extend the connection between Amuseum Naturalis and French Quarter by featuring French Quarter topics at the Amuseum and sharing Amuseum content with the town. The project is funded by CGET and the Collectivité of Saint-Martin under the Politique de la Ville program.

The teachers were excited to receive the bilingual English-French panels. Each panel tells a unique story about St. Martin and is illustrated with vivid photos. Topics include the animals that live only on St. Martin, the bear-sized rodent that once lived here, the origins of bush medicine plants and techniques and the native tree with the hardest wood in the world.

Les Fruits de Mer hopes to find the funds to print panels for as many schools as possible. The association is also happy to share the panel designs with any school or organization interested in printing their own copies. Amuseum Naturalis offers free school and youth group visits as well. Contact Les Fruits de Mer at [email protected] to find out more.

Amuseum Naturalis is open from 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday, and admission is free to all. It is located at The Old House, on the hill above Galion Beach in French Quarter. More information and a map are available at http://amuseumnaturalis.com.

Find Stories in Your Family Photos at Free Workshop

Family photos are rich in meaning.

Do you ever wish you knew more about your family history? Are you looking for something special to share this holiday season? Sign up for the free Family Photo Workshop and you can do both these things. The workshop will be held at Amuseum Naturalis from 9am to noon on Saturday, December 7th.

Every photo also tells a story. When we learn how to read the story in a photo, that story comes alive and can be a part of history. Cesar Escalona is an expert at finding the meaning in photos, and he will help you find the story in one of your own family photos at the workshop. Cesar is an anthropologist and photographer who specializes in finding culture and history in photos.

“Photos show us many things about the past,” said Escalona. “We can see who our ancestors were, what they were doing, how they dressed and the landscape around them. They hold details about culture, everyday life and historical events. Photography also has a visual language, just like painting and other arts. By learning the basics of this language, we can find out what the photographer’s choices tell us.”

Each person will find the story in their own family photo using what they learn in the workshop. They will also receive a high-resolution scan of their photo so they can share their photo and story with family and friends for the holidays. It’s a great chance to discover and connect with your own family history, and share what you learn with your loved ones.

Even informal photos can tell us a lot about family and culture.

This workshop can also be a first step towards studying your family history in more detail and connecting it to the history of the island. Future workshops will cover topics like digitizing photos and how to protect and preserve family photos. 

To sign up for this workshop, email [email protected] or send a message to Les Fruits de Mer by Facebook. You will need to bring at least one family photo to work with during the workshop. All other materials will be provided. The workshop is free, but space is limited, so make sure to reserve your spot!

Cesar Escalona is an anthropologist specializing in the study of photos. (Photo by Kristin DeFalco)

About the Workshop Leader
Cesar Escalona is an anthropologist from Central University of Venezuela. Since 2007 he has specialized in the study and audiovisual documentation of Venezuelan cultural diversity as expressed in the rituals and festivities of indigenous, Afro-Caribbean and Catholic people. He has also completed specialized studies in gender and sexual diversity (2013) and visual anthropology (2014). He is dedicated to development of visual methodologies and investigation of photographic image as narrative and construction of the past. As a university instructor and community teacher, he taught audiovisual methodologies and forms of research of the past in the rural communities of western Venezuela.

Kids Connect with Nature and Heritage at Migratory Bird Festival

Kids explore nature while playing BirdSleuth Caribbean games. (Photo by Kristin DeFalco)

On Saturday, hundreds of kids roamed garden paths looking for signs of birds. They dipped nets into huge old boiling coppers to find tadpoles and aquatic insects. They decorated their own bird backpacks to take home, and learned how their own family story is part of the island’s history. Learning has never looked so fun!

Historic boiling coppers are a hunting ground for kids looking for tadpoles and aquatic bugs. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)

It was a beautiful sunny day during the island’s rainiest month, and over 250 people came out to enjoy the seventh annual Migratory Bird Festival at Amuseum Naturalis. The festival celebrates the birds that travel thousands of miles each year to come to St. Martin. It also celebrates the the things that make St. Martin special to both birds and people.

“This year’s festival was really special because we were able to provide buses for schools and youth groups,” said festival organizer Jenn Yerkes. “We were able to reach more youth than ever, and it is all thanks to our sponsors. It’s not enough to have a free event if the kids can’t get there, so we want to do this even more in the future.”

At the Portable Pond Station, people learned about all the underwater animals that many birds come to St. Martin to eat. They could even see them up close under the microscope. Kids explored the gardens and paths while playing Bird Bingo and a habitat scavenger hunt from the BirdSleuth Caribbean program. They also learned about pelicans and how plastic can harm birds.

A team of over 30 volunteers worked together to make the festival a success. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)

In the craft area, kids and adults decorated canvas backpacks with bird art. They took the backpacks home, to use instead of plastic bags. The mobile media and learning hub IdeasBox was also at the event, bringing books, games and tablets loaded up with videos and e-books about St. Martin’s birds.

Cotton backpacks are a plastic alternative and look great with bird art. (Photo by Kristin DeFalco)

Heritage preservation work was also done at the event. One team of volunteers recorded oral history interviews with event visitors. Another team showcased the mobile heritage preservation station, scanning photos and giving advice on how to preserve pictures. Visitors saw how many things can be learned from photos, and how family stories and photos are part of the island’s history.

An interview team recorded oral histories at the event. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)

The annual Migratory Bird Festival is organized by the Les Fruits de Mer association. The 2019 event was made possible by the generous support of this year’s sponsors: 97150, Animal Hospital of St. Maarten, Belair Beach Hotel, BirdsCaribbean, BZSE, Caraïbes Numeric Print, Delta Petroleum, Dynaf, Etna Ice Cream, Hotel L’Esplanade, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, Trakx Design, White Sands Beach Club and Yacht Club Port de Plaisance.

At the Portable Pond, kids got an up-close peek into an underwater world. (Photo by Mark Yokoyama)

Les Fruits de Mer Association Launches Mobile Heritage Preservation Studio

Les Fruits de Mer volunteers record oral history interviews.

The Les Fruits de Mer association is thrilled to launch their new mobile heritage preservation studio. The portable studio can go anywhere. It is made to capture and preserve culture and heritage through oral history and other forms of archiving.

“We wanted to create a small mobile system so we could record heritage all over the island,” said Mark Yokoyama, co-founder of Les Fruits de Mer and Amuseum Naturalis. “It’s simple, it’s not pricey and it lets us document heritage on the go.”

The studio includes a scanner for photos, letters, and memorabilia, and a photo kit for heritage objects. A basic audio and video kit makes it easy to record interviews. Island Gems generously donated some of the items needed for the studio.

Heritage items are carefully photographed at Amuseum Naturalis.

“Over time, photos, letters, diaries, and other memorabilia become key records of culture, heritage and history. They are vital clues to how people lived in a previous era,” explained Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “They aren’t just valued for personal or family history. They become part of the history of the island. So when these things are lost, or damaged in a disaster like Irma, it’s a loss to the whole island. Digitizing them creates a backup for people and families. It also preserves the culture and history of the island.”

Scanning can help preserve fragile items like old photos.

The studio will officially launch at Les Fruits de Mer’s 2019 Migratory Bird Festival. At the event, volunteers will be using it to record oral histories. The festival is free to all, and everyone is invited to come share their stories. People can also bring their heritage photos, letters and other items for scanning. 

The festival will feature fun activities for all ages, like birdwatching, bird-themed games, discovery stations, and arts and crafts. It will take place Saturday November 9th from 9am to noon at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House on the hill above Le Galion in French Quarter. The event is made possible by the 2019 sponsors: 97150, Animal Hospital of St. Maarten, Belair Beach Hotel, BirdsCaribbean, BZSE, Caraïbes Numeric Print, Delta Petroleum, Dynaf, Etna Ice Cream, Hotel L’Esplanade, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, Trakx Design, White Sands Beach Club and Yacht Club Port de Plaisance.

Amuseum Naturalis Reopens for the 2019-2020 Season

Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum about St. Martin’s nature and heritage.

Amuseum Naturalis has reopened after its break and is ready for visitors! The free museum of St. Martin’s nature, heritage and culture is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9am to noon. The Amuseum is located at The Old House in French Quarter, on the hill above Galion Beach. Amuseum visitors of all ages enjoy special exhibits, gardens, viewpoints and fun activities.

“We’re very excited to announce our fall reopening!” said Jenn Yerkes, President of Les Fruits de Mer, the association behind the Amuseum. “We invite everyone to come visit the Amuseum. If you’re a teacher or youth group leader, please get in touch to schedule a free visit!”

Amuseum Naturalis has welcomed over 6,000 visitors to The Old House over the last year.

Amuseum Naturalis opened at The Old House on July 22, 2018. Since then, the Amuseum has had over 6,000 visitors. Over 2,000 kids visited with schools, youth groups and summer camps. 

Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of the nature, history and culture of St. Martin and the Caribbean, created by the Les Fruits de Mer association. It is an all-volunteer project, and over 300 people have spent over 5,000 hours to create and operate the Amuseum.

Over 300 people have volunteered to help build Amuseum Naturalis.

Upcoming events at the Amuseum include a volunteer day from 9am to noon on Saturday, October 19th with lunch served after. The seventh annual Migratory Bird Festival will be held at the Amuseum on November 9th.

Amuseum Naturalis is open from 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday, and admission is free to all. It is located at The Old House, on the hill above Galion Beach in French Quarter. More information and a map are available at http://amuseumnaturalis.com.

One Year of Awesome!

Summer camp visits the Amuseum.

In July, Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House celebrated one year of sharing the magic of St. Martin with visitors young and old. This is all thanks to our donors and our fantastic volunteers!

Since July of 2018, the Amuseum has had over 6,000 visitors. That includes about 2,000 kids visiting with school classes or youth groups. We hosted many events, including our Endemic Animal Festival, Migratory Bird Festival and Cultural Campfire evenings.

When we opened a year ago, we featured the exhibits from our pop-up museum in Grand Case. Since then, we’ve added over 60 exhibit panels about nature, history, culture, farming, bush medicine and many other topics. We are well on our way to being the best place in the world to learn about St. Martin!

We are closed for a summer break, but when we reopen this fall, we have big plans. We will continue to build our research library, Soualibra. We will also be adding many new exhibits and signs. These will include St. Martiners who made a difference on the island, the heritage of French Quarter (the town where we are located), and many other topics. We will also be hosting our 7th annual Migratory Bird Festival.

Thanks again for everyone’s support! We literally could not have done this without you. We look forward to a great fall and beyond!

(This summary was taken from a project report from our project on the web site Global Giving, where people from all over the world have contributed to the Amuseum.)

5,000 years of eco exhibit, showcasing a long local history of eco-friendly practices.
Reusable cotton bag craft.
School group from French Quarter.
Amazing volunteers!!!

Amuseum Naturalis Celebrates a Year at The Old House

Amuseum Naturalis is hosting a happy hour on Saturday to celebrate one year of operations at The Old House.

The public is invited to stop by Amuseum Naturalis for an end-of-season happy hour from 4-6pm this Saturday, July 20th. The Amuseum will be celebrating one year at The Old House in French Quarter and the end of the season. After Saturday, the Amuseum will be closed until October.

“It’s hard to believe we launched Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House just a year ago,” said Jenn Yerkes, President of Les Fruits de Mer, the association behind the Amuseum. “So many people helped transform the place into a museum, and we’ve had so many great experiences with visitors, school groups and summer camps. We look forward to finishing this fantastic year with a fun happy hour!”

Amuseum Naturalis opened at The Old House on July 22, 2018. Since then, the Amuseum has had over 6,000 visitors. Over 2,000 kids visited with schools, youth groups and summer camps. 

Amuseum Naturalis has welcomed over 6,000 visitors to The Old House over the last year.

Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of the nature, history and culture of St. Martin and the Caribbean, created by the Les Fruits de Mer association. It is located at the historic Old House in French Quarter on the hill above Le Galion. It is an all-volunteer project, and over 300 people have spent over 5,000 hours to create and operate the Amuseum.

Over 300 people have volunteered to help build Amuseum Naturalis.

Amuseum Naturalis will be open from 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday until July 20th, and admission is free. It is located at The Old House, on the hill above Galion Beach in French Quarter. It will re-open in October. More information is available at http://amuseumnaturalis.com. Join the happy hour on Facebook.

Learn, Help and Share at Amuseum Naturalis on International Museum Day

Amuseum Naturalis is an all-volunteer museum, and you can join in on Saturday from 3-5pm.

International Museum Day is Saturday, May 18th, and all are invited to participate at Amuseum Naturalis. Visit the Amuseum 9am to noon for free to celebrate and learn about the island’s nature and heritage. Join in as a volunteer from 3-5pm to help make the Amuseum better. Come share your knowledge and talent, or just enjoy, at the free Cultural Happy Hour from 5-8pm.

“Have you been to a museum lately?” asks Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. She can think of two good reasons why you should go: “I think everyone can learn something new at Amuseum Naturalis, even people who know the island very well. We’re also a community museum. We record and share information from the community so this culture and heritage isn’t lost.”

Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum of nature and heritage located at The Old House in French Quarter. It features over two dozen exhibits covering many local topics, from animals to architecture and poetry to bush tea. The Amuseum has attracted over 5,000 guests since it opened at its current location in July 2018.

The Amuseum is created entirely by volunteers, and monthly volunteer days typically attract 25-50 people. Many of the volunteers enjoy the chance to make new friends while gardening, building or cleaning. The Amuseum has hosted several Cultural Happy Hours, featuring acoustic music, poetry readings and other performances. These events are a great chance to enjoy the grounds and gardens of The Old House, a place that feels very remote for busy St. Martin, especially on a full moon night.

Guests share songs around a campfire at one of the Amuseum’s previous Cultural Happy Hours. (Photo by Marc Petrelluzzi)

International Museum Day is celebrated by museums all over the world, on or around May 18th. The annual event’s goal is to raise awareness that “Museums are an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding, cooperation and peace among peoples.” In 2018, more than 40,000 museums participated in the event, in some 158 countries.

“It’s really exciting to be part of International Museum Day,” said Amuseum co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “St. Martin has its own wildlife, culture, history and language. There is no big national museum here, but St. Martin needs and deserves museums as much as anywhere else in the world. On the plus side, anyone can help the museums we do have. Anyone can have a voice in how the story of St. Martin is being told.”

People can also take part in Museum Day activities at the St. Maarten Museum on Front Street in Philipsburg. It will be open from 9am to noon, and they will celebrate with the 2019 International Museum Day theme: Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition. There will be games for the children and informative presentations.

Amuseum Naturalis is open from 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday and admission is free. The Museum Day volunteering will be from 3-5pm on Saturday, May 18th and the free Cultural Happy Hour will follow from 5-8pm. The Amuseum is located at The Old House, on the hill above Galion Beach in French Quarter. More information and a map is available at http://amuseumnaturalis.com.

New Signs and New Stories at Amuseum Naturalis

Signs that highlight farming history are mounted on planters.

In the last few months, Amuseum Naturalis has added over 60 educational signs and panels. The new signs tell a wide variety of stories about the island’s nature and heritage. The bilingual signage was created and installed by the Les Fruits de Mer association, with funding from France’s Fonds pour le Développement de la Vie Associative.

“Amuseum Naturalis has been telling St. Martin’s most fascinating nature stories since we started,” explained co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “By tripling the number of displays, we’re able to dig deeper into nature and explore many other areas. You can learn about the animals that live only on St. Martin, but also about the roots of traditional agriculture and how St. Martiners designed their buildings to beat the tropical heat.”

The signage includes panels for an exhibit featuring the poetry of acclaimed St. Martin author Lasana M. Sekou.

Amuseum Naturalis is a free museum located at The Old House in French Quarter. It has been open less than a year, but has already attracted over 5,000 visitors. Over 2,000 students have visited the Amuseum with school classes or youth groups. The Amuseum is created and operated entirely by volunteers.

“We’re thrilled to showcase more facets of local heritage,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “Many kids who come to the Amuseum don’t know about the African roots of Caribbean bush medicine, the history behind St. Martin’s stone walls or why the flamboyant tree is so important on the island. The additional exhibits and our great volunteers help local youth connect with their heritage.”

The new displays are located all around the Amuseum grounds.

With the latest signage in place, the Amuseum is already looking towards the future. The association is currently developing signage to highlight the lives and works of St. Martiners with their Citizens of Change project, funded by the Be the Change Foundation. They also welcome topic suggestions from the community and are eager to work with local experts to develop displays on new topics.

Smaller signs tell the stories of individual plant species.

People interested in volunteering opportunities at the Amuseum can contact [email protected]. Amuseum Naturalis is open from 9am to noon Tuesday to Saturday, and admission is free. It is located at The Old House, on the hill above Galion Beach in French Quarter. More information is available at http://amuseumnaturalis.com.

Amuseum Naturalis to Launch Research Library and Poetry Exhibit

The Hurricane Protocol exhibit will launch at the Endemic Animal Festival.

The Les Fruits de Mer association will be showcasing two new projects at Amuseum Naturalis this month. One is Soualibra, a free research library focused on St. Martin. The other is an exhibit of poems from Hurricane Protocol, the latest book by acclaimed St. Martin author Lasana M. Sekou.

“We’re excited to launch two projects related to the written word and St. Martin,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “The Hurricane Protocol exhibit will be a new way to experience the work of this renowned St. Martin poet.”

The poems in Hurricane Protocol were written during the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. They explore the impact of the destruction on individuals, families and communities. Selections will be presented in a large format outdoor installation, the first museum exhibit for Sekou and the first poetry exhibit at Amuseum Naturalis.

Soualibra is a free research library focused on St. Martin.

Soualibra is a research library collecting books and other materials from and about St. Martin. The library catalog, including links to digital resources, is at http://soualibra.com. The physical library is at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter. It contains over 100 books about nature, history, culture and literature. Soualibra’s wishlist contains many more. Susanne van Mierlo is Soualibra’s head librarian.

“When the libraries on the island closed after Hurricane Irma, it was a wake-up call,” explained Les Fruits de Mer co-founder Mark Yokoyama. “We can’t offer the range of services of a public library, but a resource focused just on St. Martin that is open to the public is something we think will have lasting value. Only a tiny fraction of this information is available online.”

Susanne van Mierlo is Soualibra’s head librarian.

The launch of the Hurricane Protocol exhibit and a special preview of Soualibra will take place at the Endemic Animal Festival at Amuseum Naturalis. The festival is a free public event for all ages that celebrates the unique wildlife and natural heritage of St. Martin. The 2019 event will take place at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House in French Quarter on Sunday, April 28th from 9am to noon. This year’s event is made possible by Gold Sponsor Delta Petroleum and sponsors 97150, BirdsCaribbean, Buzz, IZI Light, L’Auberge Gourmande, Lagoonies Bistro and Bar, L’Esperance Hotel, St. Martin’s Sweetness and Tri-Sport.

Make a Museum and Plant Native Seeds on Saturday

Over 300 plants were given out at the Amuseum’s free plant stand in the past few weeks.

Local association Les Fruits de Mer invites everyone on St. Martin to help make a museum together at the Amuseum Naturalis March volunteer day. Volunteers of all ages can lend a hand this Saturday, March 23rd from 9am-noon and then enjoy lunch together right after.

“All are welcome, and anyone can help,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “We’ll be working on the museum and gardens, and starting new seedlings to give away at our free plant stand. It’s always a lot of fun and a great chance to meet other people who love local heritage, plants and wildlife.”

Amuseum Naturalis is St. Martin’s free museum of nature and heritage.

Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House is a free museum of St. Martin’s nature and heritage, located at the historic Old House in French Quarter. Phase One of the Amuseum has been open since July 2018. It includes an exhibit hall, a botanic walk, several stunning viewpoints and gardens for bush tea and traditional crops. 

In 2018, over 200 volunteers spent over 4,000 hours working on the Amuseum.

“If you love plants, you’ll definitely want to come on Saturday,” said Amuseum curator Mark Yokoyama. “We gave away over 300 plants in the last few weeks, so we’ll be working to rebuild our stock of native trees and plants, and other plants traditionally grown on St. Martin. Be sure to save us the seeds from the next soursop or sugar apple you eat. We can also reuse your plastic yogurt containers as pots for seedlings.”

Amuseum Naturalis is an all-volunteer project. Over the last year, more than 200 volunteers spent over 4,000 hours working on the Amuseum. Since opening, the Amuseum has welcomed over 3,000 visitors, including over 1,500 local students.

Plastic yogurt containers make great pots for seedlings.

The March volunteer event is 9am-noon on Saturday, March 23rd at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House, on the hill above Le Galion beach. The public is also invited to visit the Amuseum during regular opening hours, Tuesday to Saturday 9am to noon. Admission is always free, and free school and youth group visits are also offered. For more information, visit http://amuseumnaturalis.com or find Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook.

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

Citizens of Change is a project celebrating ordinary people who made a difference on St. Martin.

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 [email protected], 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

Get free native plants at Amuseum Naturalis in French Quarter.

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.”

Native plants help local birds and other native animals.

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.”

The free plant stand was built from reclaimed materials by Waste2Work.

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.

Help Create a Museum About St. Martin Nature and Heritage on Sunday

In 2018, over 200 volunteers spent over 4,000 hours working on the Amuseum.

Local association Les Fruits de Mer invites everyone on St. Martin to help make a museum together this Sunday, at the Amuseum Naturalis February volunteer day. Volunteers of all ages can lend a hand on Sunday, February 3rd from 3-5pm and then enjoy refreshments together right after.

“All are welcome, and anyone can help,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “You can help out in the bush tea garden, install new exhibit panels, plant some seedlings, or share your local knowledge. The Amuseum is a place to tell all the stories of St. Martin, so come add your voice!”

Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House is a free museum of local nature and heritage located at the historic Old House in French Quarter. Phase One of the Amuseum has been open since July 2018. It includes an exhibit hall, a botanic walk, several stunning viewpoints and gardens for bush tea and traditional crops.

Amuseum Naturalis is St. Martin’s free museum of nature and heritage.

The Amuseum is an all-volunteer project. Over the last year, over 200 volunteers spent over 4,000 hours working on the Amuseum. Since opening, the Amuseum has welcomed over 3,000 visitors, including over 1,500 local students.

“After watching museums, libraries and other cultural resources close in recent years, or get destroyed by Irma, it’s clear that the need for a museum is stronger than ever,” said Amuseum curator Mark Yokoyama. “It’s also a chance to build something for the island together. We can look beyond the old style approach to history. We can create something more alive and more diverse that reflects the spirit of the people.”

The February volunteer event is 3-5pm on Sunday, February 3rd at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House, on the hill above Le Galion beach. The public is also invited to visit the Amuseum during regular opening hours, Tuesday to Saturday 9am to noon. Admission is always free, and free school and youth group visits are also offered. For more information, visit http://amuseumnaturalis.com or find Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook.

Free BirdSleuth Caribbean Training for Educators This Weekend

BirdSleuth Caribbean is a bird-based education program made for the Caribbean.

On October 20th and 21st, the Les Fruits de Mer association is offering a free training for teachers and others who work with children. The training is for the BirdSleuth Caribbean program. The training and materials are bilingual in English and French. The September BirdSleuth training was fully booked, and many educators from that session are already using the activities.

“Imagine a school class having fun and learning about biology by playing a game of Bird Bingo or Habitat Scavenger Hunt,” said Les Fruits de Mer President Jenn Yerkes. “We’re excited to make that possible by offering a free training program for teachers and educators. It can be used in the classroom and outdoors and it was made for the Caribbean.”

BirdSleuth Caribbean is a set of fun lessons and activities that uses birds to teach youth about nature and science. BirdSleuth Caribbean has been specially adapted for the region, so kids learn about the birds and habitats that they can see around them. It’s designed for students 9-13 years old. The program contains lessons, activities and learning games that can be done in the classroom and outdoors.

Binkie van Es teaches a BirdSleuth Caribbean training session.

Les Fruits de Mer will be hosting free training in the BirdSleuth program with instructor Binkie van Es. Participants will enjoy hands-on training and receive materials to bring back to their class or youth group. On each training day, 4-5 different games and activities will be taught.

“It’s an amazing feeling to see kids fall in love with birds and science through the BirdSleuth program,” explained BirdSleuth instructor Binkie van Es. “Birds are the perfect gateway to a love of nature and a passion for learning. The activities are a lot of fun for teachers, too!”

Educators learning BirdSleuth Caribbean explore nature at Amuseum Naturalis.

The bilingual training will be at Amuseum Naturalis at The Old House: October 20th and 21st, from 9am-1pm. It is free, and lunch will be served after each training session. If you are interested, please contact [email protected] to reserve your spot in the free training.

Awesome New Activities for All Ages at Migratory Bird Festival

Everyone got an up-close look at aquatic creatures at the Portable Pond.

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.

Kids find aquatic creatures in historic boiling coppers. (Photo by Tim CAM)

“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.”

Kids and adults had fun decorating bird tote bags to use instead of plastic bags.

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.

Kids learned about nature by playing BirdSleuth games.

“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.”

Guests learned about migratory birds from bird expert Binkie van Es and teacher Jessica Sabas.

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 https://lesfruitsdemer.com or find Les Fruits de Mer on Facebook.

MBF 2018: Photos Part 1

The 2018 Migratory Bird Festival was a real blast! There were so many fun things to do, and we were very lucky that the real rain didn’t start until right after the festival. Check out a few photos of the event.