MY STORY: Love of flora across the island
As part of the Nation Publishing Company’s 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, the WEEKEND NATION team – through this series – This Is My Story – will be speaking to people who migrated to the island and visitors who have come and fallen in love with our shores. We invite you to share with us or point us in the direction of an interesting person we can feature each week.
ALPHEUS OCAROL MARTIN is a plant lover and he has carried this love from St Vincent to Barbados, eventually opening his own nursery. This is his story.
“When I was growing up, the people didn’t have a lot. We were not poor – we didn’t have much but we were content,” he said.
Martin was speaking to the WEEKEND NATION at his half acre nursery, Ocarol’s Plant Place, located along Salters, St George. He said his love of flora began from an early age and he cultivated it until it bloomed into his main revenue earner. It was this love which brought him to Barbados in the first place.
“I came here at age 22 to study agricultural science at the Barbados Community College. That is something I had always wanted to do, back from when I used to help my sister with her plants back in St Vincent as a boy, and I thought here in Barbados was the best place to learn at the time,” he said.
However, the going was not easy as Martin, now 47, said he was financially strapped.
“It was hard. I didn’t have much friends and I had to pay my way through college so I worked at different plant nurseries while I went to college,” he said.
Upon graduation, Martin said he worked at another plant nursery for more than a decade before deciding to strike out for himself.
“I started this nursery here three years ago and now I actually live here too. I found it less stressful to work for myself,” he said.
Alpheus Martin arranging some of his plants. He said he grew all kinds and had a varied clientele.
Martin said it was hard going at first but he was determined and kept striving to reach his goal.
“Financing was one of my biggest challenges. I think financing should be easier to access but on the other hand, you have to be able to pay back the people,” he said.
Martin said business was a bit slow now, recalling how times were better when he started.
“You have to fight a little harder now than before with the problems with the economy and water. I grow a whole heap of horticultural plants – right now things very slow but hopefully when the rain starts back, things will change,” he said.
Despite the difficulties, Martin said Barbados was now more home to him than anywhere else and he was happy to be a citizen.
“Barbados is an okay place once you meet the right people who would support you but it is the people who are great. I have white, black, Indian, the whole spectrum does come here to shop. Some of my best friends are Barbadians – actually all of my best friends. I don’t have much friends back in St Vincent anymore – this is home here in Barbados,” he said.
Martin had a few words of advice for anyone seeking to relocate to Barbados and make a living. He said it was important to have a good attitude, befriend the right people and stay close to God.
“Just be willing to work very hard and don’t let nothing get you down. Try and meet the right set of positive people who can influence you positively and, also, find the right church,” he said. (CA)