Wed | Jan 27, 2021

Callaloo crash for festive season

Published:Tuesday | November 10, 2020 | 12:10 AMChristopher Serju/Senior Gleaner Writer
This callaloo bed has been overgrown with weeds which have sprung up as a result of the recent rains.
This callaloo bed has been overgrown with weeds which have sprung up as a result of the recent rains.
Manager at Farm Best Vegetables, Veronica Hamm, does quality-control checks on the limited supply of callaloo the company was preparing for delivery to a client yesterday.
Manager at Farm Best Vegetables, Veronica Hamm, does quality-control checks on the limited supply of callaloo the company was preparing for delivery to a client yesterday.
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Four of the eight women who usually clean and shred callaloo at Farm Best Vegetables in Lakes Pen, St Catherine, were absent when The Gleaner visited yesterday.

The company, which usually produces between 500 and 1,000 one-pound bags of the vegetable per day, was hopeful that it could eke out 120 pounds.

Farm Best Vegetables was on track to deliver a bumper crop for Christmas. That was until persistent showers dealt it a harsh blow, drastically slashing production and productivity at the farm.

In addition to wreaking havoc with its nursery, as it battered young plants which were too tender to withstand the onslaught, the rain washed out the seedlings that did survive and provided more than enough sustenance for the weeds to spring up and sprout well above the callaloo.

“The water drown some and the rest the grass hang,” was how Veronica Hamm summed up the impact of the recent rains on the callaloo crop on the farm she operates with her spouse, Linval Chambers.

“I don’t think things can get any worse. Believe me, sir,” she added.

Meanwhile, across the work area, four women were busy cleaning and shredding callaloo, not quite enough to fill an existing order, and Hamm was worried about the other orders she would not be able to meet.

“So this Christmas is going to be very, very rough. I can tell you, because we should have had something in the ground right now to come out. We should have had the nursery going now to transplant some seedlings from it.”

The rain has caused the weeds in the callaloo plots to outgrow the vegetables, which are now indistinguishable from the wild plants. This means that the almost two acres of callaloo in the ground is likely to stay there and rot in the field.

The swarm of mosquitoes which has descended on the plot, coupled with the stagnant water underfoot, now add to the woes, making reaping a difficult job.

Hamm said that even if she could source some seeds immediately, it would not be feasible to prepare the soil, which remains soaked.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com