Sat | Mar 28, 2020

Michelle Black - Champion farmer by chance

Published:Monday | July 4, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
With much reluctance, Michelle Black (left) hands over the Female Champion Farmer trophy she won at 2015 Denbigh Agriculture, Industrial and Livestock Show to Georgia Sterling assistant sales manager in the agricultural division at T. Geddes Grant, sponsors of the competition which is now in its fourth year.
In addition to her trophy presented by Georgia Sterling (left), 2015 Female Champion Farmer Michelle Black (centre) was also pleasantly surprised to also receive a gift basket from sales representative Janet Walker-Berry, of T. Geddes Grant, during a recent visit to her farm in Golden Grove, St Ann.

When Michelle Black was advised that she was the island's top female farmer last year, it caught her completely off guard.

"They called and said, 'you won'. I said, 'win what? Me nuh know what unnu talking about. Weh me win?'" she said.

Black, who does mixed-crop farming on the 36-acre Endeavor Property in Golden Spring, St Ann, said that in the year since she received the T. Geddes Grant Trophy awarded for National Champion Female Farmer, and other prizes at the annual Denbigh Agricultural, Industrial and Food Show, the recognition has given a fillip to her operations.

"That took me to another place. I was like, wow! It even changed my staff, to know that they are really doing well and it motivated them a lot. It was great, really great. We felt really good. It's a good feeling!" Black shared during Flair's recent visit to her farm.

It was only three weeks before the 2015 show that the farmer received a telephone call from a representative of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, organisers of the Denbigh Show, advising her to enter. With her farm reeling from the devastating impact of a severe drought for a second consecutive year, the call could not have come at a worse time. However, she decided to give it a try.

While being courteous to the judges during their visit to her farm, neither Black nor her workers went out of their way to impress them.

"I was so frustrated about this drought thing and how much we had lost, that I didn't even know exactly what they are judging. When they came, I didn't do a thing different. I didn't do anything to enhance my chances," she said.

Black continues to be baffled by fact that operations at Endeavor so impressed the judges that she was also adjudged first runner-up in the overall National Champion Farmer competition.

"Suppose we hadn't been going through that drought? Because, usually it's flourishing," she mused.