Black Flavours Farming with Golden Dutchie
"I want little girls and other women to see that a woman can do farming, too. You don't have to be ugly to be a farmer. And your clothes don't have to be dirty either." Affirmative in the belief that you can bring girl power flavour to farming, and be successful, one harvest after the other, is the 2017 Female Champion Farmer for Denbigh Agricultural Show, Michelle Black. Today, Flair shares her story.
Black invited us to her home away from home in Golden Grove, St Ann, to get greater insight on how she got into the business of farming. The direction seemed clear and concise enough, or so we thought. One left turn too many and we were lost. Fortunately for us, Black was one phone call away and in no time, we were back on the right track. Our luck got even better when she told us she was just down the road.
Sure to feel isolated if this weren't on an accompanied adventure, we moved from grey, patchy pavement to red dirt track. We were met by a broad gate and escorted onto the beautiful property of Golden Dutchie Farms.
Black gave us a warm welcome before giving us the exclusive tour of the grounds. Originally from St Ann, but residing in St Mary, she wanted to stay true to her roots, in more ways than one. Almost 10 years ago, she made the decision to become a farmer. Her dreams came true six years ago, when she ventured into large-scale farming. "Golden Dutchie Farms comprises about 80 acres of land. I came up with that name to honour the community of Golden Grove here in St Ann, and highlight a major part of our culture - freshly preparing food in a dutchie: it's the best pot to cook in," she explained to Flair.
She started from the ground up, growing completely organic crops that are unique and rich in colour, texture and flavour. So far, she has cultivated arugula, kale, purple okra, green okra, pineapple, yellow yam, sweet yam, mixed lettuce, ginger, Asian greens, Swiss chard, rosemary, cilantro, Chinese cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, a variety of sweet peppers in purple, chocolate, rainbow, white, mint green, orange, red and yellow, and cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes. "We were the only farm to grow assorted products," she added.
As an agricultural activist, Black believes that in order to stay ahead, it is important that you know the business of farming. "Everything has to be strategically timed, so believe it or not, science and technology play an integral role in farming. Some people view farming as a hustle without treating it like a business. They need help and training to understand the process because farming is a very valuable skill to possess. And if you have that value, you will make more money doing this than anything else, since at the end of the day, people have to eat."
Aside from vegetation and crops, she does livestock farming as well, rearing goats and pigs. The reception so far, she says, has been wonderful. "People are always amazed by the high-quality products we produce. I'm grateful to Nutramix, for the feeds assist greatly with providing nutrients for the development of my livestock." Nutramix, she said, has been a part of the livestock aspect of her farming for about over four years, and she hasn't looked back since.
Elated to have been chosen by Nutramix as the featured female farmer for the month of August, Black says the image of farming needs to be changed. "I went to a high school as a guest speaker the other day and the students could not believe that I was a farmer. According to them, I didn't look like one." This might be a male-dominated career but Black is here to multiply and conquer, one fruitful crop at a time. "I became a farmer because I wanted to make a living doing something that I love. I'm not of the view that a man should take care of a woman by being the sole provider. Let us both bring something fresh to the table," she stated.
With every high, there are lows. Long-standing drought conditions has left a negative impact on her produce. And the low water supply only adds insult to injury, "But the show must go on. We find the water to supply our crops in the interim, transporting it back to the farm, while praying that the Lord blesses us with rain."
Her passion can be seen through her work ethic. She tends to the farm, driving in from St Mary to St Ann and back, all day every day, except Sundays. She has already put into action plans to produce yam for export, while her newly promoted supervisor manages the operations of the farm.
Here are a few facts about Black:
- She wanted to work in the veterinary field and is versed in that department, so she conducts all her veterinary work on her livestock, referring to a vet only when it is serious.
Speaking of verses, she is a talented singer and recalled a time leaving the farm to perform every evening. These days, she focuses on gospel music and sings love songs at weddings and other intimate occasions.
Black has one of the most exciting, dynamic and engaging personalities you will ever meet. Don't be fooled by the cover, you won't ever be bored by her chapters, that's for sure.