Mon | Jul 16, 2018

Mount Olivet Boys’ Home embarking on herbal teas project

Published:Tuesday | April 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
A view of the Mt Olivet Boys' Home in Walderston, Manchester, displaying the farm and greenhouse in the background that is currently being built.
Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Information Service (JIS), Donna-Marie Rowe (centre), and Duty Officer at the Mount Olivet Boys' Home, O'Neil Reid (left), listen as Managing Director, Perishables Jamaica Limited, Norman Wright, outlines details about his company's products. The occasion was the JIS’s annual Easter Sports Day visit to the Home in Walderston, Manchester recently.
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The Mount Olivet Boys' Home is poised to establish a herb farm, following the donation of plants and a proposal for purchase of the harvest by local tea manufacturer, Perishables Jamaica Limited (PJL).

"We're planting the seed and will watch it grow, and reap and create a good herb farm that we can build a long-term business relationship from. We do this on an ongoing basis across Jamaica," PJL managing director, Norman Wright, said.

Wright, who handed over rosemary and peppermint plants to the Home recently, was upbeat about the prospects of the project and informed that the company buys herbs from farmers, and "based on our knowledge of the environment here at Mount Olivet, they will prosper here".

He was speaking at the Home's annual sports day hosted in collaboration with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) at the facility in Walderston, Manchester earlier this month.

Wright expressed delight in being invited by the JIS to share in the day's activities, pointing out that "I thought, what better way to help the youngsters than to bring them something they can plant and reap".

PJL was established in 1981, and the company's mission is to develop agricultural products and by-products.

 

220 HERB FARMS ISLANDWIDE

 

The entity partners with approximately 220 herb farmers islandwide who supply the leaves, which are processed to make teas.

Mr Wright, who also presented samples of his company's 'Tops' brand tea products to the Home, assured that the company would provide Mount Olivet with the guidance to grow, reap and dry the herbs for processing.

"We work with cerasee, neem, turmeric, ginger blends, cinnamon, 'bissy', vervain, and moringa," he informed, noting that there is an ongoing project to grow ginger.

Explaining his background in the field, Wright pointed to his many years of experience working with herbs and his accompanying exploits in academia.

"It's been in the family for a long time, and so I was able to learn all of what I know as I grew up in it. Recently, I completed my Master's Degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the UTech, and that has given me some authentication of what I knew as a layman," the businessman stated.

Speaking about the products and business, Wright underscored the focus on producing local products of the highest quality.

"At PJL, we use 97 per cent Jamaican products, and we have a strict quality policy that helps to sell our products. It sells itself, because we don't have the money to do advertising and put up billboards. But when people taste our products they say it is good. The Bureau of Standards Jamaica and the Scientific Research Council are critical stakeholders in our business," he indicated.

 

WILL COME IN VERY HANDY

 

Meanwhile, Wright indicated that he does not intend to make his visit to Mount Olivet a one-off appearance, and gave a commitment to return with the JIS team to follow up on developments with the herb farm.

"The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. I expect that (the Home) will plant the rosemary ... and we'll come back here and see a large rosemary farm, and a large peppermint farm, probably with a drying (facility) to go along with other herbs that might be available right here. So we'll be working closely with them to make sure that it's not (regarded as) a public relations activity. Every time the JIS comes, we will be here to see the progress," he said.

Director of the Mount Olivet Boys' Home, Patrick Newman, was excited about the new project.

"The plants will come in very handy, as we have to make tea for the boys everyday. We have identified a plot for the plants, so we will establish a tea farm and go into the tea business. When we harvest, Wright says he will purchase them from us," he said.

The Home sits on approximately 10 acres of land, and the farming activities include a variety of crop planting, and the rearing and selling of pigs, cows, goats, chicken and eggs.