"IT REINFORCED the whole idea that farming can be just as good as anything else ... that it is recognised and appreciated," is Terrian Hanniford-Cole's take on the second-place award she took in the large scale category for 2010. Recognised for her investment in successful vegetable farming via greenhouse technology with attention to good agricultural practices and marketing initiative, Hanniford-Cole told AgroGleaner that it's a team effort with her husband Conroy.
It is this teamwork which has allowed them to move from two greenhouses to four, with crop diversification a key strategy for staying competitive and viable. Back then, both greenhouses were dedicated to sweet pepper cultivation, while hot pepper and cabbage were grown in open field, and the couple also reared some goats.
Now one of the greenhouses at their Thatchhill farm in Lodge, St Ann, is used as a nursery. One is planted out in sweet pepper, another in Romaine lettuce and the other in tomatoes. Like most greenhouse farmers, the Coles consider sweet pepper a very safe crop, given the perception that there is always a strong demand for it. In addition, it is much hardier than, say, tomatoes, and so in post-harvest handling can undergo more strenuous conditions, with less bruising.
The Coles were forced to take to the streets to sell their sweet peppers during a glut which caught local farmers off guard. Many suspect it was due to mass importation of the product, but whatever the reason(s) they don't want to be on the losing end again. They have invested in a state-of-the-art automated fertigation system. Using a bulk tank method instead of injectors, Hanniford-Cole is satisfied that using less chemicals, among other cost cutting factors, is the way to go.
For the time being, Terrian and Conroy remain dedicated to farming, even in the face of praedial larceny, which they admit is a major deterrent.
"If they could find a way to make those who are caught more accountable, it would really make a difference," Hanniford-Cole told the AgroGleaner.