Farming in the City: The ‘Green Stem’ in Jones Town

June 10, 2019
Vassell digs up the land as he prepares to plant crops.
Vassell said that many young persons in the community want to do farming but lack the resources.
Vassell pulls out callaloo stalks to replant.
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Farming, for many people, is just another way to earn some money. This was the case for 24-year-old Lamar Vassell from Jones Town, Kingston.

Describing himself as the ultimate entrepreneur, Vassell ventured into farming after the tools for his shoemaking business were stolen.

“I use to mek shoes and slippers and dem ting deh, but dem thief mi machine, so I was introduce to it (farming) by a friend,” he said.

And a year later, Vassell has fallen in love with the profession, and has named his farm the ‘Green Stem’.

When THE STAR visited his farm on Woodrow Street, Vassell was busy ploughing land to replant his callaloo stalks, and to sow his tomato and Scotch bonnet pepper seeds.

Ackee, coconut, and June plum trees were scattered on his farm, providing much-needed shade from the blazing sun.

“I sell dem miself. Sometime mi go town, sometime mi go road, print some likkle flyers, and drop dem off a some likkle restaurants and dem ting deh,” he said. “Ya fi dream big. I’m in the process of extending to build a chicken coop, and a di same likkle farm mek mi go round and juggle and sell and save and buy the board and dem likkle ting deh, second-hand zinc, and build it up.”

Challenges

But getting to this point was not without its challenges.

“Yah fi learn after certain things, because some times you start, it nuh always pretty. So tru mi mistakes, mi understand things now, and mi know how fi plant mi things dem now, and mi can mek a little money,” he said

He thanked the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) for its support.

“Big up RADA, dem wudda come through, and dem gi mi seed, teach mi bout di ting, help with fertiliser, and any other likkle ting weh dem can help wi wid,” he said

Vassell said that thieves have stolen his produce, but told THE STAR that he’s able to empathise with them.

“Two fork and a hoe get thief weh day. If dem did have something to do, dem wouldn’t even look fi come tek my ting. Mi a seh dem mussi all teif it fi go do likkle farming. Mi feel sorry fi dem because a so mi usually pree like dem,” he said

And his success as a farmer in his community has sparked the interest of other youth, but they lack the means to do so. “Youth inna the community interested to do farming, because a ting weh mi talk ’bout inna mi likkle groups dem. Mi talk ’bout dat, and dem seh yes, dem interested, but dem just nuh have the resources,” he said

“If the Government come and wire off some a dem land ya and put some drum pan it and seh uno gwaan farm, wi will find market, it wudda betta fi Jamaica. It wudda cut poverty, crime and all a dem tings deh,” he said

His farm also sometimes provides much-needed employment to youth in his community.

“When mi a plough or have nothing fi weed out, mi call two a mi brethren dem and give dem all a $500, and dem help mi out,” he said.

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