Christopher and Lisa Binns
aka Stush in the Bush

“J O Y” was published in Active Cultures’ Digest, Issue 14, Novemeber 2022 (edited by Nneka Jackson).

Images: All images courtesy of the artists.


What is Stush in the Bush??? It is a love story. It is the combination of Rastafari and Chic. It is the blending of Ital farming and exotic vegetables. It is the love of mother nature and the love of fine dining. It is rustic and it is gourmet. It is "Sexy Vegetarianism." It is the first and the last ingredient on every bottle, in every meal, in all we do... love and affection.  It is Lisa and Chris. Our love story.

The Bajan, New York foodie, and the Jamaican, Canadian Rasta, Christopher and Lisa Binns own and operate the inspirational, and aptly named Stush in the Bush, a farm-to-table dining experience in the cool hills of St. Ann, Jamaica, 2000 feet above sea level. “Stush,” a Jamaican word that implies sophistication, a little arrogance, and having an appreciation for the finer things in life is what you find when you traverse to the verdant, lush, spiritually uplifting “Bush” Chris and Lisa call home. What started in 2009 as selling produce and making breads, pepper sauce, and jams, is now an eight-course gourmet vegetarian (often times vegan) dining experience that draws foodies from all over the globe to their 17-acre holistic farm. The Binns’ co-curate an experience that is in itself their own philosophy of living. Guests are treated to both a lovingly prepared, rustic, gourmet meal that stretches the boundaries of what vegetables can be, and an earth walk that attends to your sense of taste, smell, and touch. It is an experience that draws both locals and tourists alike; stepping off the beaten track to refresh the spirit; eating good, clean, local food; and breathing in the air while learning about tradition, medicine and culture. Since 2014 they have been leading the way in the farm-to-table, vegetarian/vegan movement in Jamaica through farming, cooking, and product making. Repeated winners of the Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards (2014, 2016, 2018, 2019), and a recipient of the Jamaica Environmental Trust for Sustainable Agriculture (2014), Stush in the Bush has been featured in MACO Magazine, The Huffington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Nat Geo Traveler UK, Modern Farmer Magazine, The Business Year, and a number of other publications, blogs, television shows and websites including 2 Sisters and a Meal, Royal Caribbean, Mic.com, The Ainsley Harriot Show, and Bong Appétit.

I bought a beautiful, deep-seated wrought iron chaise lounge in January 2021.  I fell in love with the simple artistic elegance of the chaise with its rolled arms and sexy legs and decided to complete the set by adding two armchairs in April 2021.  Picturing in my mind the beauty of relaxation on the deck of our private space, affectionately called The Black Barn, I began looking for suitable cushions.  Of course, not just any cushions, but those that you can sink into, those that you can find sweet respite in, and those that put a small smile on your face each time you glimpse them out of the corner of your eye.  Being the vintage, woodsy, classic sort, my initial color choice was cream. Timeless against the black wrought iron, clean against the farm's green and the deck's wood. Simple. That understated elegance that you can use as a backdrop against anything.

Unexpectedly, this cushion search became an arduous journey… finding the right fabric and the right artisan, hoping for meticulousness, integrity, beauty, and smart craftsmanship. The first creative made a mockery of my vision. Delivered were these firm, unforgiving cushions that made you want to find somewhere else to sit. Somewhere between my words and the execution, the dream got lost. I lived with that result for many months before I decided to try again.  On the hunt, I took random pictures of chairs that spoke comfort. I measured the chaise and the armchairs and carefully considered thickness and softness. I crafted a new vision and sought another creative, who taught me a different language to communicate my desires. Yes, please, surge the ends, create enough space to take them off easily, and yes, I want the softest foam, and yes, I do want them five inches deep and no I do not want that half-moon shape or the rolled round cushions like before. I want a whole new vibe. I shifted my colour choice, chose new fabric, added throw pillows, provided a timeline, and crossed my fingers.  On October 6, 2022, I installed them in our space. Thoughtfully, I gazed at the new cushions admiring the artistry I intentionally sought out. I gingerly sat down on the chaise, lifted up my legs, curled into a fetal position, and smiled a soft little smile. Closing my eyes, I blissfully nodded off, deep in the softness of the chaise with the throw pillow nestled under my head. J O Y. 

Food and dining, for me, draws on much of the same sensibilities as the chaise lounge and procuring the right cushions. This appreciation for craftsmanship is not merely towards things, but it is how I approach food, with a deep respect for the integrity of my ingredients, the vision at the end of the road, and the beauty and JO Y experienced in the creation and by the eater.  It is what makes STUSH in the BUSH, STUSH in the BUSH.  If your heart and your stomach are not filled to the brim with J O Yand a curiosity towards plant magic at the end of your dining experience, then we have not done our job.  The bounty with which we curate food is J O Y; it is joy from Mother Earth in all her glory.  It is timeless, most often perfect in its creation, and that which gives from love deserves love in its handling and presentation. From tender nutrient-dense baby greens to the deep purple hue of aubergine; the soft yellow skin of guava and its baby pink flesh studded with seeds for future generations; to the crisp snap of okra; the aroma of Genovese basil complete with flowers at the tip; to the firmness of chayote, cho cho, christophene ready to become anything your heart desires; and the generosity of banana, its hands and fingers are plenty, its uses, both green and ripe are enjoyed by many and still subject to reinterpretation… nature supplies it all amply–It is just tto play in that with reverence; it is to spark
J O Y.

I love the quiet of the kitchen before the bustling energy of the day, before our creatives come in, before the demands of time are upon us. I love the early call to sink my hands into soft dough that culminates in something dreamy, beautiful, and delicious. I love to eat beauty. It is just so joyful. Cooking and sharing is such a wonderful gift of your soul. And for me, the whole process is pure treasure. I love experiencing food, feeling the texture and mouthfeel, seeing the vibrancy of the colors, the melding of all the flavors, the smells, some familiar and others not, drawing you in and ultimately the J O Y that it makes me and others feel. I often watch from the sidelines the delight of our guests in the drawing room as they experience their meal from course to course. The J O Y on their faces as the plate gently lands in front of them, thoughtfully and artfully made; the steaming, velvety bisque as it is poured, pooling gently amidst its garnishes; the tiny bits of love in bowls here and there around the table; it reveals so much about who we are and why you’ve come. 

I’m not above a little walk around to feel the glow. In fact, it is essential to the process. It is validation that your conjuring has worked and that the love and affection from your being have found their place in the work of your hands. Good conversation, laughter deep in your belly, glasses clinking, knives and forks doing their work, empty plates, wine pouring, jazz greats playing gently in the background reminding you of times gone by and of those to come, sharing smiles; it is as simple as community, a nod to the communion of spirit, conviviality. This is our experience; this is J O Y.

-Lisa Binns

STUSH in the BUSH NoLA Beignets

These soft, pillowy, deep-fried, square French-style doughnuts decadently covered in confectionary sugar are your teleportation device to Café du Monde in New Orleans. For me, they are J O Y on a plate. They are, perhaps, our most looked-forward-to dessert. Light just shines from our guests when they land on the table, substantially coated in icing sugar, sometimes dolloped with our passion fruit curd, a fruit coulis, or our rich chocolate coconut sauce. Beignets are fun; that’s it, just plain fun. Since 1862, the French market stand has been offering these gorgeous delights with chicory coffee, another favourite of mine that heightens the coffee’s chocolate notes, and which we often serve here. I have been to New Orleans several times, and having beignets and coffee at Cafè du Monde is just a ritual, but alas, they are not ITAL, plant-based. Purchasing their beignet mix on one of my visits, I hoped to recreate at home what I experienced abroad, and they came out like little square rocks. This recipe that follows is born of plant-based leanings, and a desire to make a classic relevant; I think we have done it well. 


2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal
7 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
½ cup brown sugar (demerara)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 cup lukewarm water (115°F)
1 cup oat milk (or plant-based milk of your choice)
¼ cup vegetable shortening (or room temperature coconut oil that is soft but still solid)
Coconut oil
Confectioner’s sugar

1. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the flaxseed meal with 6 tablespoons of hot water and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to thicken.

2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, yeast, sugar, and salt and process for 1 minute to combine. Add the shortening to the dry ingredients and process for another minute to combine. Add the plant milk to the lukewarm water, then slowly add it to the dry ingredients with the mixer running, until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, forming a ball, about 15 minutes. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and pliable, about 5 minutes. Transfer dough to a bowl lightly coated with coconut oil, then flip dough to coat both sides; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

3. Transfer dough, which will be very soft, onto a lightly floured surface or board. Lightly flour your hands, and gently press and flatten out the dough with your hands, stretching it out into a large, ½-inch-thick 18”-inch square.  Cover with a tea towel to rest and rise a little more about 15 minutes.

4. With a 2-inch-square cutter, pizza cutter, or sharp knife, cut the dough square into 2-inch squares and set aside on a heavily floured baking sheet. Fit a heavy-bottomed pot with a deep-fat thermometer and heat 3 inches of coconut oil to 375°F over medium-high heat. Fry beignets in batches, making sure not to crowd the pot and flipping halfway until squares are deep golden brown and gorgeously fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

5. While beignets are still hot, arrange on a large platter or wood board; dust heavily with confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately.


Is the seed

Planted in

My mother’s

Teenage belly

Rejected for having

A child out of wedlock

For a man

Who had too many


Joy is the pain

She felt bringing forth

This life who the family

Eventually loved and cherished


Joy is the day the letter came

This little boy would find new life

In a new land

Ice cold and snow

This little country boy

Would come to know

Wanted and rejected all at once

Dreaming of the bush

Coconut and banana trees

Replaced by crab apples

And skin freeze

The stares of white eyes

On his dark skin

Lost in

The life in foreign


To be

Home again


Joy is the seed

Planted and transplanted

Then replanted in fresh soil

Sprouting new roots

Locks stretching towards

The sky

Flourishing branches and leaves

Blossoming and bearing sweet fruit

Containing the seed

Of the fruit thereof

The magical mysteries

Of plant life revealing

Secrets eternal


Joy is the sweet Kiss

From a lover’s lips

The knowing touch

in the quiet moments

Of the night

Gentle hands finding

Places only they know

The ecstasy

The feeling of forever

Comfort in the arms

Of love



Joy is the return from whence

We came

Birth to rebirth

Sowing tears

Reaping bitter sweet fruit

-Christopher Binns

Active Cultures is a cultural organization that explores the convergence of food and art in contemporary life.