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From farm to market

RACHELLE AGARD, [email protected]

From farm to market

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IT HAS BEEN YEARS in the making; two young men looking for a start, for that one golden opportunity, and finally they got it.

Greggory Holder and Triston Lucas have always dreamt about working for themselves, and though they have been for the last few years, they always envisioned something bigger and developing their brand.

Both young men are vendors located at the front of Popular Supermarket in Spooner’s Hill, St Michael, where Holder plies his trade of selling vegetables from a tray while Lucas sells his homemade juices from the same spot.

They were recently gifted a piece of land by a philanthropist who they fondly refer to as “Daddy”. They were given the land on the condition that they work the land and reap the produce to sell for themselves. In addition to the land they were also gifted three sheep.

“Before I moved to Popular, I used to sell on the bridge in town, and I met Daddy a long time ago, but when I moved we lost contact. Recently he passed by the tray and we started talking again and he tell us the land was still there and if we wanted it, it is ours,” said Holder.

“The whole idea behind working the land is to make money to take care of our kids. The reality is raising children in these times hard and jobs are just as hard to come by.

“And although people saying there is work out there, they not that easy to find,” said Lucas, while Holder shook his head in agreement.

The duo, who met at their present location, have been operating there for the past two years, and can be seen from the moment the supermarket opens to the minute it closes its doors daily.

“We work from Sunday to Sunday with our only days off being bank holidays. I was born to be an entrepreneur. I wasn’t born to work for people. I’ve always had that in my mind since I was at school. I am not an expert, but I can hold my own in farming and agriculture, and what I know I share with Triston,” said Holder, a former student of The Alleyne School.

Explaining why it would be easy to run their own business, Holder, a resident of St Joseph, it would save them a lot when they took all things into consideration.

“It would be easier to run our own food business if we have our own crops. Neither of us has our own transportation yet, so getting around to people is an issue, just like finding somebody to transport us and our goods is hard and takes a good piece of money out of our pockets. Buying and selling produce is not as easy as it sounds.

“Not every time you would find somebody with plantain or sweet potatoes or you have money to buy the produce; a ground is what we needed.” explained Lucas.

“Money is a bit hard and fertiliser is expensive, but we are working with what we have and hoping for the best. Spending so much money is not economical, so I buy things wholesale and sell back to make my profits. On top of that we have to look after our kids, feed ourselves and pay the bills. We also need to make enough money to contribute to Daddy’s resources that we are using,” said 27-year-old Lucas and father of one.

Adding that they were grateful when Daddy gave them the land, Lucas said they were “fortunate in the sense that a ground in town is unique and hard to find”.

“The advantage of having land to work not far from where we sell is we do not have to go to St Lucy to dig four bags of potatoes and by the time we are done it is well after midday. That alone slows down productivity for the day,” said Holder.

And although they agree that they are off to a good start, the reality is that they do not have all that they need to maintain the ground.

“Right now we have okras, cassava, cucumbers and string beans on the ground. We have been out here for about six weeks now, and it is hard work. We would do good with some help, but we have a start and that is the important part. We can’t leave the tray every day, so we have limited time to come, or the times that I am here Triston stays at the tray or vice versa,” said Holder.

“We plan to plant as much as we can so we could have as much produce to rotate as possible. Then we have three sheep that we intend to breed. We hope to expand soon and eventually get some chickens and branch off from there.”

“Things hard, but we can only take it one step at a time and each day as it comes,” said Holder. (RA)