The South St. Andrew community of Trench Town, known as the cradle of reggae music, having produced some of the island’s top musicians including reggae icon Bob Marley, is now yielding bounty of a different sort.
In the heart of the community, lies a flourishing greenhouse, where residents are engaged in cultivating vegetables to feed their families, while earning an income.
At first, the residents saw the farming activity as a means of food security for their families. But as tangible benefits are reaped, and persons are earning money to offset their living expenses, greenhouse farming is growing on the residents.
“Right around the community, the people love the farming,” says Project Manager of the Trench Town Greenhouse, Donovan English.
The Trench Town Greenhouse farming project started in 2011 through the initiative of the Agency for Inner City Renewal, headed by Richard Lambie, a Canadian of Jamaican parentage. The agency helped the residents to craft a project proposal for financing, which was sent out for funding and financial institution, CITIBANK and not-for profit organization, United Way of Jamaica, sponsored the initiative.
The project is fully community-owned, with the residents building and planting the greenhouse, and are now reaping and selling the produce. They benefited from training in greenhouse agronomics, construction, entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
So far, they have produced some of the best crops of pak choi, callaloo and tomatoes. Up to 20 pounds of tomatoes are reaped daily from inside the 30 by 40 square feet greenhouse.
Housewives, schools, and businesses purchase crops from the greenhouse farm and vendors at the nearby Coronation Market also source produce from the farm.
“From they hear that the thing is here, they come give us support,” Mr. English states.
Six young men are employed full time on the farm, planting and replanting vegetables, and tending to their care, including uprooting weeds and watering.
Among them is Mark Ffrench, who sees the project as a blessing.