Children enjoying themselves on the farm eye careers in agriculture

FOR some children, farming has been a nurtured passion, and not just a hobby developed amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Numbered among those children are four who, with support from their parents, are on a course to pursue farming as a career.

Nine-year-old Samuel White, a student of McIntosh Memorial Primary School in Manchester, told the Jamaica Observer that he wants to be a fireman and a farmer.

“I assist my father and my cousin on their farm and I enjoy it. I feed the cows, feed the goats and I help him (father) to plant yam. It is fun. I go on the farm after school, after I finish my homework. I want to own my own farm when I am older. I want to be a fireman and I want to be a farmer too. I want to do the two of them together,” the nine-year-old said.

The boy currently feeds his passion by exploring two farms. When he is not reaping and weeding with his father, he is with his cousin, Citerina Atkins, on her farm that spans 20 acres of land.

“On my cousin’s farm, I help to reap, I help to tie up the goats and sometimes I help to drop potato slips,” he said, noting that none of his friends are interested in farming.

And the adage ‘time flies when you’re having fun’, sums up the youngster, who said he never gets tired on the farm, finely.

“My sweat gives me energy,” he said.

Atkins, his cousin, added: “Whenever we’re going to the farm he’s always eager to come. He started as soon as he was old enough to be able to come to the farm with us.”

Likewise, five-year-old Yollanda Forest has her eyes set on farm life. She often shadows her uncle Jermaine Black, who has been in the business since 2016 in Linstead, St Catherine.

“I love to water the plants and make them grow. I love to wash the pig pen, too. I wash the pen, then I give them feeding and then I give them water. I give them in the morning. I go on the farm before class and after class. And I pick sweet pepper, cucumber, tomato and I pick carrot and then I bring them home. And mommy and daddy seh dem love dem,” Yollanda said.

Yollanda added that her favourite thing about the farm is caring for the animals.

“I carry the goats outside so they can eat grass. I like the goats, the chickens and the pigs. We have 12 pigs and me nuh fraid a dem. I always touch dem.”

Her older brother, 11-year-old Derron Forest, has been in the game for two years, and recently reaped an eight-pound watermelon.

“I plant the melon myself and it weighed eight pounds. It was very sweet and many people eat it. My parents said that it is good and that I should plant more. I don’t plant anymore yet. I will plant more soon. I also plant tomato and I picked one already,” he told the Observer.

Like his sister, looking after the animals on the farm piques his interest.

“I clean the pen and wash the pigs. I help on the farm and help with the other animals like the cows and the chickens.”

And he has no problem killing chickens.

“I put them in the drum and hold dem neck and cut it off. I am not afraid to do it… I am used to it now. I did not do any today,” said Derron.

Black, their proud uncle, said both Derron and Yollanda have a real interest in agriculture.

“They are on the farm early in the morning before school time and after school. Dem love it. Dem help me carry out the goat dem, dem help me water crops and dem help me with the chickens.”

Further, Melissa McLish and nine-year-old Ruchelle Lewis are a mother-daughter farming duo. Lewis has been a recurring top performer at Hydel Preparatory School whilst honing her farming skills.

“I like that it’s like a free empty space that you can go and do anything like planting and walking around to clean up the crops. I enjoy it. I assist my mother with planting some of the crops and I help her to weed them. My favourite crops are mangoes and corn. They are my favourites because I like the taste of them. I feel like they take a long time and a short time to grow at the same time,” said Lewis.

In her younger, more impressionable years, Lewis was immersed in agriculture. Her grandmother, grandfather, uncle, mother and father are all farmers.

“I learnt to kill chicken for my grandparents. I am not afraid when doing it. Just cut the chicken head off,” Lewis added.

Mclish told the Observer that she noticed her daughter had an interest in farming since she was just one-year-old, and has given her the latitude to explore.

“She has class from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. We allow her to finish up her homework after class and she does a little revision. Three times within the week, at like five o’ clock in the evening, we take her to the farm. But like Saturday and Sunday, she’s on the farm from in the afternoon. Sometimes she’s on the farm from in the morning on Sunday,” said McLish.

“She told us that she wants to be a contractual farmer. We are not going to hold her back on that. We are going to give her that push. That is her dream. We gave her a one row of onions which is her responsibility. And she is managing very well.”

Meanwhile, Lewis said tending to her mother’s farm helps her as a student.

“It gives me patience and it helps me in my schoolwork. I told my teacher that I want to be a farmer in the future,” she said.

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