draws from his roots
I grew up in a farming community, rural Jamaica. My mother and
my father were farmers, so I would help out on the farm. Iíd
have my plot and it all grew from there. I was always involved
in some form of farming activities for most of my life.
This is actually my first season here. For this year I did
somewhere between a half acre and a quarter acre at Auer farm,
thatís a 4-H farm. There were another three acres that I took up
over in South Windsor. There was option for more land, but I
stuck with what I could manage. Itís not quite fulltime in the
season, but Iím heading there.
One of my things is to get my produce to my customers in the
freshest state possible, a few hours to twenty-four hours, so
itís vital. We get that vitality and that gives me some edge in
my local area over the supermarkets. Iím also looking to finding
niche products that will appeal to different tastes, wherever
My most popular crop is calalu, which is an amoranth used by
Caribbean people, African peoples and a few other ethnic groups.
Thatís my main thing. Then scotch bonnet peppers, which are also
a great thing. Those are my two main crops right now. There are
also tomatillos, beans, thyme, and so on.
Much of my produce can now be found in supermarkets and small
stores around. There are a few restaurants. Most of my crops are
sold in the greater Hartford area where thereís a large
Caribbean-Jamaican population. There are populations out there
that are looking out for products of their own ethnic origins,
as well as others who like the exotics.
I do attend,
or attended, a farmerís market run by the Hartford Food System
on Laurel Street. My markets were mainly to Jamaicans, but then
there were all the ethnicities that were quite interested in my
produce. The farmerís market, apart from being a good
opportunity for sales and marketing, is a good social spot. You
meet such nice people. Youíre able to exchange all kinds of
Accepting the challenges is the key to good farming
There are ready markets, and it mainly depends on how can you
step up to meet a market type. What are your resources, is your
Small farmers in Jamaica, they rely on each other. There is
shared labor, so one farmer would be doing a particular job
today, and heíd have six, seven, eight, nine, two dozen farmers
come over depending on the size of the job and help. Then
another day, when their crop challenge comes on that farmer,
along with others, goes to another farmerís plot and helps.
Here, people are much more busy about their personal lives and
their job, and itís a little different.
Iíd say I broke even, which for many farmers in their first
year, might be hard. But thereís room for growth, Iíd say. I do
accept the challenges.
The key to being a good farmer is being able to balance your
resources with your production, to maximize your gains. Thatís
the whole big question there. But the main thing is to be able
to produce. The main thing is to be able to produce what you can
with what you have, and to work with your challenges, your
environment, to focus on the markets you want and that are
receptive to you. Thatís basically it.
I enjoy a lot in farming, a lot of aspects. One is being in
residence with nature. Another is being able to produce crops
that are being demanded and to be rewarded for it.