Wed | Nov 21, 2018

Jacob’s Ladder going places in agriculture

Published:Friday | August 3, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Poultry kept in a cold-storage facility at Jacob's Ladder
Administrator Deacon Paul C Dunn speaks about plans for expanding the farming activities at Jacob's Ladder
Some residents are paid a stipend for work on the farm.
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"We don't buy food and put down. We have food here, so it's fresh food that is going into the pot every day," boasted Deacon Paul C. Dunn, administrator at Jacob's Ladder in Haddon, Moneague, in St Ann.

"We have four greenhouses in which sweet peppers and tomatoes are generally grown. Some for the home, some for staff and some is sold to the market. In the open fields that are irrigated right now, there is corn, pine, cabbage, pak choi, red peas, Scotch bonnet pepper, yam, sweet potato, Irish potato, and pumpkin."

He added, "We have opened another area for yams again, so it's a lot of stuff that we can get into, and what it does is lessen what we spend."

In the face of an islandwide drought, which has seen the Government providing special assistance to those who depend on rain-fed farming, the Catholic institution has been on a mission to expand its agricultural output in livestock and crop production.

In addition to an aquaponics system, where pond fish are reared, also being farmed on the property are thyme, cabbage, cauliflower, and other vegetables, as well as livestock such as poultry, pigs, goat, sheep, and a few rabbits.

"We also have a couple acres with breadfruit, ackee, naseberry, and apple. There are so many possibilities," he added.

The agro forest, where some drought-resistance orchard crops have been introduced, is another area of Jacob's Ladder's agricultural foray.

The skin from the food generated from the kitchen is added to the pig feed, and manure from the chicken coops is used in an integrated approach, which Dunn is looking to take to another level.

"It's a bit expensive in the start-up, but we are looking at establishing a biodigester to really ensure that nothing is wasted, but that is really down the road," he told The Gleaner.

"This is not only a home. It's also a farm," Dunn pointed out, adding that self-sufficiency is of paramount importance given the financial constraints under which it operates.

In addition to a government stipend, Jacob's Ladder is able to accomplish much through the kindness of individuals and groups.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com