Young couple pushes sustainable agri concept
Christopher James and his wife, Abigail Bourne, are united in the belief that permaculture, with its cost-effective methodology, is the way forward especially for young, small Jamaican farmers.
The fun-loving couple, both former students of the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE), has successfully applied this sustainable, self-sufficient ecosystem to their integrated farm, Gloryfields, in Farmers Heights, St Ann, and are encouraging others to follow suit.
"It's a fancy term that means permanent agriculture and it's just a different approach to farming. I recommend that persons take this approach because it's a lot easier, physically easier and a lot safer for your consumption and healthier for your body," explained Christopher.
"Instead of doing your traditional crop or seeking to do cash-crop farming, it is taking a mixed-farming approach, having some things that will bring fruits later on in the year, midterm, and you'll have some stuff bringing in food in the short term. However, the management is different," he added.
Christopher outlined that permaculture offers greater returns on inputs when measured against traditional farming methods, including the fact that less work is required when using the method.
Abigail offered: "We don't use normal pesticides, we tend to mimic the systems that are found in nature. So we do a lot of mulching, we do a lot of composting, we utilise our animals for both pest and waste control and we fertilise our crops using the food waste from our house, as well as manure from our chickens and rabbits."
"Another way we utilise permaculture on the farm is with our deep-litter system with our rabbits and our chickens, so we created a space where we would have rabbit cages atop and chicken would be able to feed and lay at the bottom of the system," she continued.
Kitchen scraps are dumped and from that the chickens would pick. What remains becomes the compost.
"Typically, we build our compost, not with sawdust, but with the leaves from around the yard, so when we cut or rake the yard, we will add that to our compost as well as the foodstuff."
The compost is then applied to their herb garden, potato patch and other areas.
Christopher believes that Jamaican farmers would be willing to adopt permaculture if the concept is presented to them.
"And I think our country needs it," he asserted. "We're sitting on a gold mine because I was taught that our bedrock is limestone and our climate is perfect, that is why our natural food is so flavourful compared to other countries and because of that I think our products need to be promoted not just locally because we have it 'nuff', but definitely internationally and a lot of people would love our stuff."