WEDNESDAY WOMAN: Pure joy in growing things
FOR MORE THAN 20 years Patsy Davis has been getting her hands dirty.
She owns and operates Davis Plant Nursery, where she harvests a variety of seedlings – a job that brings her great joy.
But that is tempered by the realisation that neither her daughter nor son is keen to take over the business.
“The business is doing well and I expect it to continue this way because people will always have to eat, but I would like it enhanced to hatch a lot more things,” she said. “It needs younger blood to go higher.”
Davis, who is in her 60s, said she would like to try her hand at introducing more foods not normally grown in Barbados on a large scale, but she would have to acquire the know-how. She also wants to get into ornamental plants and has been doing some research.
Her one regret is that her daughter has not taken to the business with her.
“She was working here and everybody would tell her, ‘Your face too bright for doing this and dealing with this dirt’; ‘What you still doing here under your mother’; ‘Why don’t you go in Town and find a job?’,” Davis said.
To her dismay, her daughter eventually decided to find employment elsewhere.
“If my daughter was here she could learn other techniques. I can only do to the level of my learning, but she could enhance it and bring the nursery up to her standard.”
Davis lamented that many Barbadians did not see the value in having their own business, preferring to get a job in, say, Swan Street.
That aside, she is working hard to develop the business that started out with her propagating seeds for friends, free of cost, to selling seedlings to big farmers.
She recalled doing a course in agriculture more than 20 years ago that helped to provide the impetus for her seed germination adventure.
Patsy Davis plans to start hatching more ornamental plants.
At the time, Davis was working at a garment factory on the Harbour Road, but she left a short time later to start a plant nursery. At first, she did things for free for her friends, but later decided to start charging a fee.
“When I first start doing this, people would bring their trays and the potting mix and ask me to drop the seeds,” she said. “My hand used to get them to hatch; they didn’t use to pay me and I thought, ‘Well, they could give me a li’l something since I don’t work’.”
She said the decision to charge did not sit well with some clients and one male friend was even bold enough to tell her that she was not qualified to be in the seed sprouting business. However, help came via “divine intervention” – in the form of a traffic diversion caused by a road repair project near her Monroe Road, Haggatt Hall, St Michael operation.
“That brought customers right to my door,” she said. “I used to have the seedlings right in front the house and people would pass and look. Then they start getting out the bus, buying things and waiting for the other bus. Then the cars used to pass through and people would stop.
“That is how I start getting customers. I never advertise or nothing so, but I have customers from as far as St Lucy and St Philip. They come from all over the island.”
She said her customer base was made up of householders who wanted to grow their own food.
“They say they prefer to buy my seedlings and grow their own food because that way they are sure of what they are eating and it has no chemicals. Also, the prices at the supermarket are way too high,” Davis said.
She supplies farmers with seedlings of mostly lettuce and Chinese cabbage, numbering in the thousands.
“They would buy a couple pieces of the herbs, but the big sellers are lettuce, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, cucumber and okras,” Davis said.
Though she has her own little kitchen garden, she said she did not have the time to maintain it because the nursery takes up much of her time.
Davis is busy preparing for Agrofest in a few weeks’ time. She said she has participated in it from the inception and it has been good for business.