January 2019 - 36

GROWER'S POSTCARD
Jamaica market contrasts with US systems
SAM HITCHCOCK
TILTON
rcvcfarm@gmail.com
Jamaica is a place kissed by God,
beautifully clothed in its jagged green
mountains, sparkling water, smiling
people and bountiful land. I have traveled
there many times over the years as a
tourist, reggae musician and as a farmer.
I traveled there last a few years ago
with my brother, an urban farmer in
New Orleans. We enjoyed walking the
countryside visiting farms and speaking
with the farmers everywhere we went. I
wanted to share with you some of what I
learned about farming in Jamaica, and I
hope to convey a feeling of that special place
and also get you wondering why, in this
world of abundance, there are those with so
little. Also, I wanted to share how it is that
in some places it can be near impossible to
get ahead. My trip certainly gave me a fuller
appreciation for many things we have in our
country and also identified some things of
which we could use more.
Kingston, Jamaica, the bustling capital
city, is set on a few miles of flat coastland
between the mountains and the sea. It
filled our senses with new and foreign
sounds, sights and smells on all sides.
Coming from rural Wisconsin, there is
much more stimulation in Kingston than
what I am accustomed to. In our first days
in the city we found no order - it was
incomprehensible how things were done
and what was happening around us. Yells,
shouts, cries and whispers emanated from
the people teeming from all parts of the
street. People of all sizes and ages walking,
running, selling, talking, hanging and
stalking - everywhere. Everyone going
One morning we walked around the neighborhood in Kingston and met a father and son making the rounds in their mobile farmer's
market. Photos Sam Hitchcock Tilton
about their business in a manner totally
incomprehensible to my brother and I.
And on top of that we could just maybe
understand the language tossed through
the warm smoggy air - their language,
called Patois, is a melodious form of
English with a different accent and a lot of
slang words. And of course, as two white
men in a country of dark black people,
we stuck out like yellow dock in field of
lettuce. I encounter few black people in
rural Wisconsin. Almost everyone I see is
my color. Being the one looking different
from everyone else was unfamiliar and at
times uncomfortable, but certainly was
a good experience for me to feel a part
of what so many darker-skinned people
feel where I live. Kingston is charged
with activity on all sides and was initially
a cacophony of unrelated rhythms that
sounded like utter chaos. But over the
course of our trip these sounds would
coalesce into a familiar song whose
rhythm I enjoyed stepping to.
My brother and I had music business in
Kingston for a few days. While there we
tried to make connections with farmers
at the large public markets so that we
could visit them later. We also tried to
understand how the food system works in
Jamaica by talking to as many people as
we could: In a country without a welldeveloped
cold-chain and decentralized
distribution, how does food flow from the
country farm to the city plate?
We found that the Jamaican food
system is much like ours in the U.S. must
have been a hundred years ago - for
good and bad. It is quite " inefficient "
in terms of the work hours required
to produce food - but also the food is
MUCH fresher and originates closer to
the eater. Also, because much farming
is done on smaller scales, (often in
half-acre fields surrounding country
homes) food growing is much more
decentralized - a model to which many
in the U.S. aspire, and that we see more
of in recent years with the appetite for
locally-grown produce.
What we saw in Jamaica much more
36 | VegetableGrowersNews.com
http://www.VegetableGrowersNews.com

January 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of January 2019

January 2019 - 1
January 2019 - 2
January 2019 - 3
January 2019 - 4
January 2019 - 5
January 2019 - 6
January 2019 - 7
January 2019 - 8
January 2019 - 9
January 2019 - 10
January 2019 - 11
January 2019 - 12
January 2019 - 13
January 2019 - 14
January 2019 - 15
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January 2019 - 36
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January 2019 - 43
January 2019 - 44
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https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2022
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https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/october-2021
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https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/seedguide-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyersguide-2021
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