Thu | Dec 3, 2020

‘From soil to shelf’ - Stephen Newland grows with Hopewell Farms

Published:Thursday | November 12, 2020 | 12:08 AMKrysta Anderson/Gleaner Writer
Scotch bonnet pepper, fresh from the farm and ready to be transformed into Hot Steppa products.
Scotch bonnet pepper, fresh from the farm and ready to be transformed into Hot Steppa products.
Here comes the Hot Steppa line of products: spice selection, Scotch bonnet pepper, pimento and nutmeg.
Here comes the Hot Steppa line of products: spice selection, Scotch bonnet pepper, pimento and nutmeg.
The yellow-orange spice turmeric is also available under the Hot Steppa brand and, like the ground ginger, has several health benefits.
The yellow-orange spice turmeric is also available under the Hot Steppa brand and, like the ground ginger, has several health benefits.
Stephen Newland, the owner of Hopewell Farms, tills the soil, preparing it for a new set of crops.
Stephen Newland, the owner of Hopewell Farms, tills the soil, preparing it for a new set of crops.
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In a world where many are looking for healthy and tasty alternatives, Stephen Newland satisfies these insatiable appetites with Hot Steppa from Hopewell Farms.

“I always had a love for excellent food, but became much more interested in delicious and healthy food when I was travelling on tour as a musician in the early 2000s and discovered a whole world of options,” the lead singer of reggae band, Rootz Underground, told Food.

And with a family farm in St Mary that provides fresh produce for family members and a few supermarkets, what better way to bring his dream to fruition?

Initially, the focus was on Scotch bonnet pepper seasoning and spices to curtail spoilage. “We started dehydrating and milling into powder.” This, he revealed, was a huge hit among friends, family and fans, and it was there that Hopewell Farms, the business, began.

Hopewell Farms, according to the musician and entrepreneur, is a producer of fresh produce, dehydrated and ground spices, rubs, exotic herbal teas and smoothies or shake boosters. “We are ideal for smoothies or shakes, stir-fries, soups, baking and hot beverages. Hopewell Farms’ products are also excellent natural food colouring, and all our products boast several health benefits,” he said.

HERE COMES THE HOT STEPPA

The star of the product show is the Hot Steppa line of rubs and spices. The name for which came about after Newland gave some friends Scotch bonnet peppers from his farm to have with dinner. Their reaction to the spicy addition was that the pepper really “step up the food”, describing it as hot but nice, to which he replied approvingly, stating that it’s the real ‘hot steppa’. They all laughed, but the creative name stuck around as a sizzling commodity.

“The names reflect the roots and playful culture of our company, without compromising quality or trying to focus on a hard sell,” he asserted.

Currently on the market in the Hot Steppa line are Scotch bonnet pepper, ginger, turmeric, and recently inducted beetroot. All are locally grown, dehydrated and grounded to perfection.

“We also do nutmeg, thyme and sorrel. In the new year, we will be introducing soursop and jackfruit, dehydrated and ground,” he added.

The line of products is primarily developed around nutrient count, boasting a series of health benefits, along with, of course, a focus on flavour and spices. A key element is that the product is categorised as a superfood, which aligns with their mission to promote healthier alternatives and wellness.

In business for just under a year, all-natural Hopewell Farms has been doing well, “Our products are 100 per cent natural with no additives or preservatives, and we go fresh-to-factory, never frozen. We give the people what they want, and it is healthy,” stated Newland proudly.

The COVID-19 climate has affected businesses locally and internationally, but the health benefits of the products have helped Hopewell Farms to weather the pandemic with repeat customers. Products such as ginger, pepper, turmeric and beetroot help to boost immune health, and present medically proven properties that aid in the prevention of a variety of illnesses.

“We have quite a few beetroot customers who have been recommended by their physician to consume more beet, turmeric and ginger,” he said.

Through recommendations from customers, friends, and social media marketing, Newland has collaborated with other companies like The Butcher Block in Manor Park and CPJ Market and Deli on Lady Musgrave Road to distribute the Hot Steppa Line.

“I am not a chef,” Newland admitted, but he does take pleasure in cooking when it comes out well. “I am a big supporter of healthy lifestyle, mind, body and soul, and therefore, my passion is inherited from my larger passion for life. I also am a nature lover, so of all my business endeavours, it brings a great deal of satisfaction to help farmers, support food security, and watch my efforts literally from soil to shelf. It is very fulfilling!”

With plans to launch two new lines: Bush Doctor and Rub-a-Dub Gourmet, and begin export in January 2021, the company has also created gift boxes, for any special occasion, on current products for travelling customers or Jamaican food lovers overseas so they can enjoy Jamaican taste and flavours in their food.

“We are working on developing a platform for market connectivity for companies and products like Hopewell Farms, and we also provide consulting for small entities who may be having challenges with export sales, labelling, marketing and strategy development,” he said.

For more information on the farm and its products, call 876-418-9419 or email hopewellfarmsja@gmail.com. You may also follow Hopewell Farms on Instagram, hopewell_farmsja.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com