• Feature
    Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson (left), views sweet pepper being cultivated in one of the greenhouses operated by the Elliot Farmers Community Enterprise group in Cromwell, St. Mary, recently. At right is President of the community enterprise, Marvalee Tomlinson Russell.
    Photo: Mark Bell

    Story Highlights

    • President and Founder of Elliot Farmers Community Enterprise in St. Mary, Marvalee Tomlinson Russell, is on a mission to transform and empower unemployed women living in the Parish, through training in greenhouse farming.
    • Mrs. Tomlinson Russell, believes agriculture is one of the best solutions for women living in rural areas to achieve independence.
    • “We started this initiative to help women. We noticed that a lot of women don’t have work, and agriculture is one way that women can be gainfully employed and make money,” Mrs. Tomlinson Russell told JIS News.

    President and Founder of Elliot Farmers Community Enterprise in St. Mary, Marvalee Tomlinson Russell, is on a mission to transform and empower unemployed women living in the Parish, through training in greenhouse farming.

    Mrs. Tomlinson Russell, believes agriculture is one of the best solutions for women living in rural areas to achieve independence.

    “We started this initiative to help women. We noticed that a lot of women don’t have work, and agriculture is one way that women can be gainfully employed and make money,” Mrs. Tomlinson Russell told JIS News.

    The Elliot Farmers Community Enterprise greenhouse project is aimed at providing employment, with emphasis on sustainable agricultural farming.

    The enterprise group, formed in April 2016 with funding from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, is geared towards increasing the engagement of women in agriculture.

    “This initiative was [primarily] to train our teachers, so that they too can train the community women. The teachers have been trained. They are reservoirs of knowledge. All the teachers have a first degree, so we believe for sustainability from the grant, if we train the teachers first, then we’ll get the training being passed on to more women,” Mrs. Tomlinson Russell explained.

    Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson (third right) shakes the hands of Trainee, Elliot Farmers Community Enterprise, Maureen Bramwell (second left) during the launch of the initiative last month in Cromwell, St. Mary. Others (from left) are President, Elliot Farmers Community Enterprise, Marvalee Tomlinson Russell; Lamoy Higgins; Erica Padmore; Kesha Masiba and Authurine Plunkett.

     

    The project was officially launched in Cromwell in the Parish last month, by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. J.C. Hutchinson.

    It has provided training in greenhouse farming for eight teachers from St. Mary Technical High, Marymount High School for Girls and Albion Mountain Primary School.

    Mrs. Tomlinson Russell told JIS News, that her love for agriculture was the main driving force in starting the initiative.

    “The inspiration for me going into agriculture started a long time ago, from I was a student. I went to St. Mary Technical High School, [which was] Richmond Secondary School at that time. I did agriculture, then I went to Elim Agricultural School, spent three years, then I went to College of Agriculture, Science & Education, then I did an Associate’s Degree, a Bachelor’s Degree in Technology and a Master of Science in Nutrition,” she stated.

    The project is now focused on growing vegetables such as sweet pepper, kale and cilantro in greenhouses, but the team is looking into other areas for growth.

    “We’re looking at agroecology and so we’re starting this sustainable production of vegetables [because] our children need to eat better. We have to start producing. We have to start juicing for the children and stop letting them have this vast amount of sweets, which is contributing to overweight and obesity. It’s a good project moving forward,” Mrs. Tomlinson Russell said.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Hutchinson noted that the project will have a positive impact on agricultural production in St. Mary.

    “I commend all the partners who have made the project a reality, and in particular, members of the Elliot Farmers Community Enterprise, for your commitment to the agricultural sector and the development of our country,” he said.

    Minister Hutchinson also stated that the project “reflects a tangible response by our farmers to adaptation to climate change, as we strive towards sustainable development”.

    Women living in St. Mary who are interested in the initiative, may visit the project’s location in Cromwell.