Farming in the City: Farming leads to harmonious partnership in Jones Town

Woodrowe Street in Jones Town, Kingston, has been a place of harmony for Michael Williams and 75-year-old Rebecca Bennett. For four years, the two, along with Bennett’s husband, 75-year-old George Bennett, have been planting green lush rows of callaloo, okra, Scotch bonnet pepper and corn.

The land was donated by the Jones Town Baptist Church, and it was the silver lining Williams needed when he was made redundant from his job.

“I have a lot more time now than when I used to work. Mi just come in the morning, do what mi have fi do – water; if mi fi weed out mi weed out; and just go back up ‘bout 10 or 11 o’clock sometimes, and just come back in the evening again,” he said.

For Bennett, she retired from her housekeeping job of 40 years and was looking for something more relaxing to do.

“I love to see the plants grow. Like a baby, I take care of it. I need the money to fall back on. At least it can provide food on the table,” she said.

Both farmers told THE STAR that they would export their crops when they just started out, but had to stop after their exporter lost his market.

Now Williams said that he is eager to find other markets.

“I have a couple people inna the community weh buy, and like mi have one and two restaurants in Cross Roads weh tek a bag every three weeks. A lot of people come pon a Sunday come by dem callaloo – from other communities, Rema and every weh, from Portmore, all from country inna the hills. And every month Golden Age (Home) tek like $3,000 worth,” said Williams.

He said that he sells 100 pounds of callaloo for $2,500, while a bundle goes for $100. His other produce are priced based on the surplus in the market at the time.

However, the harvest from Bennett’s noticeably smaller plot is sold to people in the community and market vendors.

And although Bennett admitted that she may feel some aches every now and again, she has no plans to stop farming anytime soon, especially because she has William’s help.

“When you do certain things, it become a part of you, especially if you love it. Michael is a blessing. I pray for him every day,” she said.

Williams told THE STAR that praedial larceny is not an issue for them because of the respect they enjoy as farmers in his community.

“Wi nuh have nobody come in a come teef. That’s the good thing ‘bout it. Mi very beknown in the community, and if somebody steal something, mi a go know,”

And they’ve also been very creative in dealing with the issue of drought.

“We full up the drums dem and flash the water over the vegetables. It betta fi wi more than wi have the thing dem a sprinkle it. Sometime di water pressure go down, so we keep the drums full,” he said.

But the best thing about farming for them is the cooperation they enjoy with each other.

“Anything wi plant, mi successful with it. And anything wi plant, it sell. Everybody sell, everybody have dem customers, and wi not taking each other’s customers,” said Williams.


By Sashana Small