Coffee farmer won't leave Mount Vernon
Although persons from the Mount Vernon community in St Thomas have abandoned their homes as they seek better living conditions elsewhere, 29-year-old Aldane Anderson says giving up on his community is not an option.
The farmer told THE WEEKEND STAR that the community in which he grew up once had more than 200 persons there, but now it only has about 30 persons remaining in the area which is nestled in the hills of St Thomas.
The poor condition of the roads in Mount Vernon was cited by the remaining members of the community as the main reason behind the desertion of homes.
"A lot of the people that I grew up with have left because they said it is hard to make a living when it takes one hour and half to reach anywhere from here," explained Anderson.
On a visit to the community last week, there were several houses that were visibly unoccupied, and there were barely any signs of life in the quiet community.
According to Anderson, most persons who have remained in the area were farmers, and they did not leave because their farming land was in the community.
"Thing is, if you nuh turn farmer, there is nothing else up here for you to do, so people grow up and leave," he told THE WEEKEND STAR.
Families with children who attended schools as far as Morant Bay also had to leave because the journey to school can take as much as three or four hours.
Life is also difficult for farmer Alicia Bloomfield, who said her weekly journey to the market to sell her produce was extremely costly because of the state of the roads.
"It costs me sometimes $1,500 one way to reach market, so dog nyam mi supper If me nuh make no money a market," she said.
Despite the conditions, Anderson told THE WEEKEND STAR that he has no desire to leave the community he has lived in since birth.
"Mount nice, clean and quiet. Me nah leave mi farm because a it me use take care of me family," he added.
The coffee farmer is optimistic that things will turn around for his community.
"Once them fix the road, things going turn roun' because nuff people weh leave would come back fi dem house and the place lively again," Anderson said.