STAR Salute : Cave farmer excels at agriculture
He is only 28 years old, and already Lyndell Gooden of Cave in Westmoreland is being hailed as a community stalwart whose passion for agricultural development runs deep.
He was just barely out of Manning's School a decade ago when the young farmer took it upon himself to help pioneer the development of his own greenhouse, which is among the first in the parish.
Gooden's first greenhouse was built with a mere 10 feet of wire mesh, two drum pans and two sheets of zinc. Today, he operates two 3,000-square-foot commercial structures, which were funded through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).
The greenhouses are primed with seedlings of various crops, like Scotch bonnet pepper, cabbage, tomato and lettuce. The operation is supported by a network of gutters for rainwater harvesting, tanks and a pump house. Come harvest time, the facility generates significant employment for residents.
"This project was a game changer for the community because I try to generate as much employment [as possible]," said Gooden.
The young farmer said that his love for agriculture stems from his family's background, primarily his grandfather and father, who were prominent farmers back in the day.
Gooden practised and sought all the education he could about farming. He even attended the Montego Bay Community College, where he pursued degrees in both agricultural sciences and culinary arts.
"Even after all these years, I still have a strong love for this thing. There have been a lot of obstacles and setbacks, but the positives outweigh the negatives. Yes, I had opportunities where I could leave, but I shrugged it off because I have a passion for agriculture and having gone to college and gained the knowledge, I do not see why I should abandon my community and its people," Godden said.
Gooden's suffered a minor setback in a recent freak storm which ripped some of the greenhouse mesh to shreds. He says that within weeks he hopes to have this remedied as he is earnestly working towards rehabiltating the facility.
Aside from his major work in agriculture, Gooden has also been at the forefront of lobbying for major projects in his community such as for the construction of a new roadway.
"I would just want to see my community develop and for farming communities in general to get more assistance and not just lip service. We just want some genuine action from the powers that be. I also want to tell farmers who are having a difficult time to never give up," he said.