IT IS OFTEN said that “every hoe ha dem stick a bush” – an old saying which could be easily interpreted to mean every farmer has his or her own story to be told.
Driving on the narrow road from Southfield to Yardly Chase in the hills of south St Elizabeth is an artistic creation of nature that only the Heavenly Father could have created. The view of the sea and the landscapecovered by farms with crops of all types quickly reminds you what a wonderful country we live in.
With a rich history, including that of the Lovers Leap, Yardly Chase and its farmers have many modern-day stories that stir the soul and affirm the resilience of the Jamaican people.
A short distance from the road, Juliet Enever stands in a field of tomato and sweet pepper plants, a bucket of water in one hand and a small container in the other. Wearing a hat that offers the only shade from the 11 o’clock morning sun, she was busy at work. She is one of many females in the parish who have chosen farming as their lifelong profession.
Admitting that farming is not for the timid, her broad smile and the tenderness with which she held on to a young tomato plant showed, without a doubt, that she loves what she does.
With pride, Enever told The Gleaner: “I have been farming for 27 years without regrets.”
Until recent years, she said, farming was not given the prominence it deserves in the scheme of economic growth and self-sustenance.
Not lacking in intellect and academic qualifications, this mother of two girls said she got pregnant at age 16 and took up farming a year later. Undaunted by her early responsibilities and with the support of husband Cordel, she saw the opportunities in farming to be independent and earn a meaningful living.
Like any successful businessperson, she said: “You must treat it like a well-run business. You must love it, too, and be willing to put in the work.”
She added: “I’ve been here from 5 o’clock this morning and won’t reach home until later this evening, after which I am obliged to ensure that my husband of 27 years as well as the home are taken care of.”
Not satisfied with the authorities’ efforts to boost small farmers’ production and marketing, Enever challenged those in charge to take note that quiet farming communities like Yardly Chase had a low crime rate. This she attributed to the fact that most, if not all, young persons were involved in some form of farming, which affords them little time to associate with “idlers”.
Travelling to the Coronation Market in Kingston to sell her produce from as early as 4 o’clock in the morning, and enduring the associated rigors, Enever, like any other professional who enjoys financial stability, takes a vacation from farming on a regular basis.
Pointing to the sky, she said, “Sometimes I fly out for weeks and go relax and enjoy myself”.
With food security no longer just a buzz term but a goal, Jamaica may well achieve it in the short term with the dedication of farmers such as Juliet Enever from the bread basket parish of St Elizabeth.