Lifestyle & Food : Life Yard Restaurant all about community survival

October 09, 2017
Tyrone 'Jah Quench' Anderson (left), Richard 'Bobo Richie' Irving (centra) and Daniel 'Jah lava' Barnes enjoy a calabash of tun' cornmeal and veggie stew prepared at Life Yard Restaurant.
Nicuma Carr has adopted the role of main chef at the restaurant inside Life Yard on Fleet Street.
A pot of tun cornmeal on top a coal fire ready to be served at Life Yard on Fleet Street.

Life Yard's restaurant is not the typical street-side cook shop. It is a more humble, homely facility with food prepared on a wood and coal fire.

The inconspicuous entrance on Fleet Street is covered by artwork leading visitors into a narrow pathway and directly into a large but cozy dining area.

Under a mango tree, tables and chairs created from recycled pallets and painted in the colours of the Rastafarian faith are perfectly laid out. For the person who chooses to sit and dine, a calabash bowl can be provided or a regular styrofoam lunch box.

The menu is solely vegan, but fish can be done to order. On a day-to-day basis, 34-year-old Nicuma Carr is known to serve up a well-seasoned vegetarian stew made with beans, steam vegetables, with roast or boil food.

He describes the menu as a revolution of 'street food' and a natural way of life, typically showcasing home-style cooking.

The members of Life Yard are committed to eco-farming. Organic matter is recycled to make compost for planting a variety of ground provisions, banana, cabbage, spinach, callaloo, among other 'greens'.

"We also make natural juices and punches right here on the property," said Carr.

Most of the food that is cooked is grown on the property. However, in the dry times items are purchased from the vendors on the streets of downtown Kingston or in Coronation Market.

Within a few minutes of the tour of Life Yard, a group entered (familiar faces to Carr). One customer requests fritters but, unfortunately, it is not available on the menu at the time.

"I came for finger food not for anything too large, instead I got a finger-licking meal," said Bobo Richie.

Carr's 'tun' cornmeal is an irresistible blend of the cornmeal, sweet natural coconut milk and red peas, so sweet that it leads Bobo Richie questioning if any form of ripe plantain or fruit has been added.

Life Yard's restaurant also runs a small-scale breakfast programme for the youth of Fleet Street.

"It is for children who are unable to afford a cup of porridge in the morning before school; sometimes we give a cup of tea as well, whatever we can give it just depends," said Carr.

Carr is a member of the Life Yard family which also operates interactive programmes and tours of Fleet Street and neighbouring streets. It is opened Mondays to Fridays, as little to no business is carried out on Saturdays, which is generally reserved for spiritual gathering and Nyabinghi worship.

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