Mount Olivet Boys’ Home Embarking on Herbal Teas Project
The Mount Olivet Boys’ Home is poised to establish a herb farm, following the donation of plants and a proposal for purchase of the harvest by local tea manufacturer, Perishables Jamaica Limited (PJL).
“We’re planting the seed and will watch it grow, and reap and create a good herb farm that we can build a long-term business relationship from. We do this on an ongoing basis across Jamaica,” PJL Managing Director, Norman Wright, said.
Mr. Wright, who handed over rosemary and peppermint plants to the Home recently, was upbeat about the prospects of the project and informed that the company buys herbs from farmers, and “based on our knowledge of the environment here at Mount Olivet, they will prosper here”.
He was speaking at the Home’s annual sports day hosted in collaboration with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) at the facility in Walderston, Manchester, on April 7.
Mr. Wright expressed delight in being invited by the JIS to share in the day’s activities, pointing out that “I thought, what better way to help the youngsters than to bring them something they can plant and reap”.
PJL was established in 1981, and the company’s mission is to develop agricultural products and by-products.
The entity partners with approximately 220 herb farmers islandwide who supply the leaves, which are processed to make teas.
Mr. Wright, who also presented samples of his company’s ‘Tops’ brand tea products to the Home, assured that the company would provide Mount Olivet with the guidance to grow, reap and dry the herbs for processing.
“We work with cerasee, neem, turmeric, ginger blends, cinnamon, ‘bissy’, vervain, and moringa,” he informed, noting that there is an ongoing project to grow ginger.
Explaining his background in the field, Mr. Wright pointed to his many years of experience working with herbs and his accompanying exploits in academia.
“It’s been in the family for a long time, and so I was able to learn all of what I know (as) I grew up in it. Recently, I completed my Master’s Degree in Complementary and Alternative Medicine from the UTech, and that has given me some authentication of what I knew as a layman,” the businessman stated.
Speaking about the products and business, Mr. Wright underscored the focus on producing local products of the highest quality.
“At PJL, we use 97 per cent Jamaican products, and we have a strict quality policy that helps to sell our products. It sells itself, because we don’t have the money to do advertising and put up billboards. But when people taste our products they say it is good. The Bureau of Standards Jamaica and the Scientific Research Council are critical stakeholders in our business,” he indicated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wright indicated that he does not intend to make his visit to Mount Olivet a one-off appearance, and gave a commitment to return with the JIS team to follow up on developments with the herb farm.
“The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. I expect that (the Home) will plant the rosemary… and we’ll come back here and see a large rosemary farm, and a large peppermint farm, probably with a drying (facility) to go along with other herbs that might be available right here. So we’ll be working closely with them to make sure that it’s not (regarded as) a public relations activity. Every time the JIS comes, we will be here to see the progress,” he said.
Director of the Mount Olivet Boys’ Home, Patrick Newman, was excited about the new project.
“The plants will come in very handy, as we have to make tea for the boys every day. We have identified a plot for the plants, so we will establish a tea farm and go into the tea business. When we harvest, Mr. Wright says he will purchase them from us,” he said.
The Home sits on approximately 10 acres of land, and the farming activities include a variety of crop planting, and the rearing and selling of pigs, cows, goats, chicken and eggs.
Chief Executive Officer of the JIS, Donna-Marie Rowe, who was also a participant in the sports activities, acknowledged the growing number of sponsors partnering with the Agency to assist the Home.
“The relationship between Mount Olivet and the JIS has grown by leaps and bounds, as we have seen the development taking place over the years. We are very grateful to our sponsors who support us. We will continue to build on the relationship and partnership, so that the boys know that we really care and we support them,” she stated.
Other sponsors of the day’s event were Coldfield Manufacturers Limited, Maxfield Bakery, National Baking Company Limited, Tastee Patties, JP Tropical Foods Limited, and the Jamaica Urban Transit Company.