‘From mi small mi love farming’ – 25-year-old inner-city youth plans to spend life in agriculture
At just 14 years old, Andrew Beacon Jr bought his first pig. He earned the money to do this by helping his father on his farm. And after the sow had 12 piglets that same year, he was convinced that he was destined to be a farmer.
Beacon told THE STARthat at age 10, he was helping his father with the goats and pigs before school in the mornings and would hurry home in the evenings to help him lead the animals back to their pens.
Having received his start with his first sow, Beacon, 25, now operates a five-acre farm with his father on Diamond Road in Waterhouse, St Andrew. Together, they own 50 cows, approximately 300 hundred goats, and an acre of callaloo.
In the absence of his father, Beacon excitedly showed the STAR team around his farm, which consisted of two pens, housing his goats and cows, separated by a lush acre of callaloo.
As we walked towards the cow pen, Beacon told THE STAR that managing such a large farm is no easy task.
“Mi get up all 5 o’clock and come search the cow pen and see if no young baby bawn, check dem navel, see if no fly pitch pan none a dem navel, look if the mada a feed dem right. And den mi go goat pen go do the same thing, give dem antibiotics and all dem something deh. The earliest yuh dweet, the better cause when di sun come out, it nuh normal,” he said.
Beacon is convinced that his experience underscores the fact that the potential for farming in inner-city communities is great. He said that he has sought to encourage youths like himself to get involved.
“Mi always a tell dem fi come inna farming because dem always deh yah wid mi, and mi see seh it work fi mi, suh it can work fi dem to,” he said.
Beacon appears to have no difficulty getting market for his produce.
“Sometime different people come and will order a hundred pound [of beef], and wi just kill a cow weh a 500 pound. But wi kill and stamp at the slaughterhouse. A $350 to $450 a pound fi goat and $250 a pound fi beef,” he said.
He added that he sells the callaloo to market vendors.
But the profits he enjoys are not without sacrifices.
“You haffi put in fi get out, suh wi spend a lot of money to get them how you see dem is right now. If yuh nah gi dem di right medication, dem nah go come. Because if di goat dem all have running belly and mi nuh gi dem the antibiotics on time, it just run and you see how him mawga dung,” he said.
In addition, Beacon said there is the ever-present threat of praedial larceny.
“One a the time, mi left mi cow dem ova here, and dem gone wid a heifer. Dem have dem time, dem just watch wi till wi gone and thief wi stuff dem,” he said.
COULD LOSE LAND
And there’s also the impending loss of the land they now farm on. Beacon said it’s owned by a Chinese company, but he has been informed that it has since been sold.
“The Chinese business people dem sell di place, suh wi soon haffi go find some way and go. Mi father a raise animals yah suh fi more than 35 years now. Wi nuh know weh wi a go go,” he said.
But he said he’s resilient. Regardless of what comes, he’ll continue doing what he loves.
“I am just a lover of animals from long time; from mi small a it mi love. Mi not coming out, mi haffi dead inna it. Anytime mi eye close mi can seh, Alright den, a it dat, mi duh my part’, but a it mi a duh straight up till no breath nuh deh deh,” he said.