Farming in the city: Tough luck hits Seaview Gardens farmer

David Howard from Yellow Sea Drive in Seaview Gardens, St Andrew, is a jack of all trades. Until 12 years ago, he was busy building houses in and around his community. But as those jobs dwindled, the 60-year-old started to look for another way to make ends meet.

It was a stroke of luck that brought him into beekeeping.

“Mi ketch a bunch a bees weh come inna mi place and mi put dem inna wah one box, and a suh til mi see more bees a come in, and mi lock dem in,” he said.

His apiary grew and Howard mounted more than 25 boxes of bees. This encouraged him to plant some fruit trees; mango, breadfruit, pear, and an apple tree. Soon, Howard also ventured into livestock rearing. He told The STAR that he started out with 25 pigs, and built a chicken coop to house some broiler chickens.

But those were his glory days. Howard’s luck soon ran out and his farm, as it stands now, is merely a skeleton of what existed. His apiary now has only 15 boxes; the eight pigs that are in his pen don’t belong to him, but are only being housed there; and the chicken coop, which he said was once filled with broiler chickens, is home now to nine common fowls which he raises for his household.

And though he openly expressed his love for farming, Howard conceded that love alone was not enough to sustain his vocation. He openly admitted that he lacked the technical knowledge needed to successfully operate his farm.

“Wah likkle man did come and seh him a gi mi a lesson, but every time him come and mi pay him a money, but him a hide things from mi. Right now, mi cudda have a hundred box a bees if di likkle man did a gi mi the lesson,” he said

He also had a problem finding a market for his produce.

“Weh di people dem do, dem import the pork inna di country, and sell it fi a cheaper rate, so when mi kill all a pig now, nobody nuh want the meat fi buy, because dem a import the meat in yah, and my pig caah sell,” he said

Now, he says, he sells his honey to his community for $500 a flask.

But still, Howard said that he will continue with the little that he has now, if it’s even for the love of farming, and to provide for his disabled 21-year-old son.

“Mi do farming cause mi love it, a just jollificate mi a jollificate miself, because mi nuh really a mek nothing affa it, but mi still doing it because mi love it. And everywhere mi go, if a even mi backyard or anywhere mi go mi still ago dweet,” he said

“Him bawn suh. Him cannot see, him cannot walk, the only ting dat likkle man can do is lie down and drink him feeding and fling weh him cup. Mi feel miserable inna miself because mi nah get no help fi mi likkle pickney, if mi can get help fi him, mi wudda alright. Mi wah likkle pampers dem and suh, if mi can get likkle pampers. Pampers more dan anything else,” he said.