Taste of Jamaica Medicinal Herb Garden and Farm rises after COVID-19
While Jamaica slowed almost to a halt during the COVID-19 lockdown, St Ann business couple Lascelles and Elizabeth Broderick toiled tirelessly to upgrade their herbal garden and farm, near Hinds Town in St Ann.
It was a task that has seen their Taste of Jamaica Authentic Tour, launched in 2017, evolve into Taste of Jamaica Medicinal Herb Garden and Farm, now a multifaceted entity that boasts one of the largest array of Jamaican herbs and spices, which it also exports, offers eco-friendly and educational tours to both tourists and local students, and the most delectable of Jamaican dishes.
From a farming perspective, Taste of Jamaica offers on a combined basis, scores of herbal plants and spices, fruit trees, and animals that include rabbits, chickens, and goats.
According to Lascelles: “We started to make this place way before COVID. COVID came and this was all we did during COVID because there were no more tours so we kept on planting stuff and preparing for after COVID, and that’s what we did. This is the result now.”
“It is well accepted by the foreigners and the locals alike. Everyone who comes here, they love it and say they will be back. That’s the response we’re getting,” he added.
The Brodericks would readily tell you that Taste of Jamaica Farm is the ultimate medicinal herb farm in Jamaica with an unending inventory that includes well-known as well as little-known plants such as: ram goat regular, guinea hen, dog blood, blue vervain, broadleaf plantain, reem, pennyroyal, medina, search mi heart, pepper elder, periwinkle, john charles, woman piaba, duppy gun, devil’s horsewhip, hyssop, yesterday-today-and-tomorrow, tuna, aloe vera, among others.
Well-known flowers such as Joseph’s coat, croton, and hibiscus are also there and are part of the throng of plants with medicinal value.
Crops include pineapple, corn, bean, banana, yam, coffee, coco, potato, peas, and orange.
And Taste of Jamaica Farm is where you go if you’ve never seen a curry tree!
“It’s a self-sufficient farm,” Elizabeth told The Gleaner. “Our aim is to teach persons about the herbs we have in Jamaica and their uses,” she added.
Taste of Jamaica Farm has students studying agricultural science as a target as it is believed they could gain valuable information to help with their examinations.
Said Elizabeth: “This is a place that they should come to. What we plant are things that lots of people don’t plant on a whole. You’re not going to find what we have here anywhere else.”
“Taste of Jamaica is a lesson on Jamaica and once you come here you will get to know about Jamaica and our plants which people are craving worldwide, and the way the world is going now most people are coming off of pharmaceutical medicine. It’s a knowledge-based place so once you do the tour you will learn a lot.”
She lamented the fact that Jamaicans generally don’t appreciate our local herbs and suffer from a lack of knowledge which sees them destroying valuable plants on a normal basis.
“They don’t really realise the beauty of it and how much it can help them. When they’re sick they go to the doctor and get their medicine, they don’t go back to when their grandmother used to boil the two herbs – they don’t know.”
“Take a simple thing such as Spanish needle. If you get a cut you can get the Spanish needle, squeeze it and put on the cut and it helps to heal it because Spanish needle is a powerful antibiotic, some people don’t know these things.”
Authentic Jamaican cuisine forms part of the experience with popular dishes such as ackee and salt fish, callaloo, jerk chicken, festival, curried goat, rice and peas available.
“It’s a farm to place experience with several of the dishes being made with produce grown on the farm.”
With the growing popularity of the herbs that are grown there, Taste of Jamaica Farm has moved into another aspect of the business, which is the export of Jamaican herbs.
“We do export the herbs, that’s what we do. We send all over the world even to countries in Africa,” Lascelles said.
During the current medical crisis, the flowering plant vervain has proven to be a popular herbal item for export.
“Since COVID, most people asking for the vervain because they say the vervain helps with respiratory problems. And the men go for the roots because that help with stamina and things like that.”