Mon | Nov 29, 2021

First-time farmer discovers green thumb

Published:Thursday | March 18, 2021 | 12:14 AMRasbert Turner/Gleaner Writer
Sherwood Simpson examines the sorrel on his farm at Bernard Lodge Estate for pests and other insects.
Sherwood Simpson examines the sorrel on his farm at Bernard Lodge Estate for pests and other insects.

Former bank officer Sherwood Simpson said that moving from the comfort of his air-conditioned office to the scorching sun on the Bernard Lodge farmlands may have seemed far-fetched for some professionals, but not for him.

Simpson currently has a lease on a 10-acre plot, with seven acres under production. He gave insight into his transition.

“I currently grow sorrel, along with hot Scotch bonnet, red peppers, callaloo, lettuce. These are cultivated for processors and some items are for vendors who visit,” Simpson said.

He explained that he has been rewarded for his determination, and is expanding into the production of onions, sweet corn, sweet potato, scallion, and melon.

“I also want to capitalise on the high-end market, so I am currently building a greenhouse for broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach and the like,” he said.

Simpson revealed that he is pleased to have ventured into farming, although he had no previous experience in the challenge.

The St Jago High alumnus said that he was happy that he had seized on the opportunity for a great investment and considers the advertisement for the lease offer of arable lands by Sugar Company of Jamaica Holdings Limited timely.

ENCOURAGEMENT

“I have worked in the banking industry from being a teller to a loans officer. I have never planted not even a flower before. I was at my wits’ end as to how it (the farming) was going to evolve, but I tried and I continue to grow and with added encouragement, the results are here,” Simpson said while pointing at his one-acre sorrel patch.

He posited that since he ventured into agriculture in November 2020, he has come to realise that there is a great demand for produce, as the food processors are looking for steady supplies of tubers, fruits and vegetables.

“The greatest thing is that if you grow it (the crops), there is a market there waiting. The niche crops such as sorrel and callaloo are among the most sought after by processors, therefore, we just need more planters,” Simpson said.

The former white-collar worker, who holds a bachelor of science in banking and finance, said he feels blessed to have discovered his green thumb. Simpson said that he is currently searching for more space for cultivation.

“Here (at the farm) my day starts about 6 o’clock in the mornings and can sometimes end at night, but the adrenaline rush of being my own boss just keeps me going,’’ Simpson said.

He disclosed that he has sought to leverage networks with processors and marketers to maximise his returns.

“I am also very appreciative of my employees. I am more so because they are from Spanish Town, in my community, and I am able to engage them positively,” Simpson added.

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