Angelo Lawrence, Gleaner Writer
In recent years, the question many young female farmers find themselves answering is, "what are you doing in farming?" The question becomes even more pointed when the female is a graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI) with a bachelor's degree in business administration and has the charm of a public relations officer.
A former member of Air Jamaica flight personnel, traversing the airway corridors of the Atlantic to destinations near and far, rubbing shoulders with the movers and shakers in the world's affairs, Hedda Rose is a proud Jamaican farmer.
Born at the UWI Hospital in Kingston, this aspiring lawyer had no idea that one day she would fall in love with and make farming a career. With the nurturing of loving parents, Rose spent her formative years growing up in Stony Hill, St Andrew.
Explore other horizons
After spending 15 years at Air Jamaica, Rose decided in 2010 it was time to explore other horizons and join her husband, Stewart, in the United States. With her energy at an extremely high level and a yearning to be in a productive and functional environment, Rose's plans to migrate were still not yet fully developed. So when she heard about the benefits of greenhouse farming in addition to its financial possibilities, she visited the Christiana Potato Growers' Association in northeast Manchester, where the technique was being developed to suit the Jamaican farming environment.
After much investigation, Rose decided that this was what she wanted to do and put the idea to her husband, who supported her dream and returned to Jamaica to partner with her in greenhouse farming of tomatoes and other vegetables.
Like most ventures, Rose is quick to remind one that it takes dedication and hard work to make it a success. With a look of triumph on her face, she told Rural Xpress that the only real "growth" in this country has been in agriculture. She pointed out that the Dominican Republic's economic growth is largely attributed to its strong agricultural sector.
After becoming the first female to head the male-dominated Greenhouse Farming Association, Rose took up an offer in 2011 to fill the post of marketing manager for Newport Fersan, a major player in the agriculture sector. She held this position until early November. Pausing for a minute, her expression moving from a smiling face to one of deep thought, she said, "I am leaving a good team" to take up a new challenge at another firm in the sector, this, while praising husband, Stewart, for keeping their business going and for his unwavering support of her.
Rose's quiet and soft demeanor is a trap for the unprepared or ill-advised. "You must lead by example," she said. "Whatever you do in life, you should leave a path to the development of good character for others to follow. When you are working at any company, a fundamental question that should always be asked is, 'what can I do to make the company better?' while remembering that the 'customer is king'."
Reflecting on her childhood days in Kingston, she said her mother, Claudette Campbell, never had to worry about her and her siblings when they went out for a stroll or took a ride. Contending that as a country we are not "fostering what is good" due to "persistent moral decay", Rose insists that our leaders are not leaving a legacy of good example by which youth can be influenced. This, she said, is no incentive for investment.
Although working in the corporate world, Hedda Rose remains one of our nation's foremost greenhouse produce farmers, hoping to leave a legacy that embraces good character and moral principles.