By Lindsey Turnbull
There has never been a more exciting time for backyard farmers who grow their own fresh produce, with farmers across the island leading the way in producing all manner of fantastic produce that’s plucked straight from the ground, to the market and on the dinner table, all in one day.
Our local farmers, who toil away in their fields day in, day out, are today providing restaurants, markets and supermarkets with top quality produce that is far superior to imported items because of its incredible freshness and flavour. Bite into a tomato that has been refrigerated and transported thousands of miles to get here over days or weeks versus a local tomato that has been picked from the vine that day and the flavour comparison is unreal. Recognising the value of home grown produce, local farmers have stepped up their game in recent years and nowadays we can purchase everything from basil to bok choy, callalloo to carrots, mustard greens to mint.
Clarence McLaughlin has a huge commercial farm in Bodden Town and walking around his acres of fresh fruits and vegetables is a total delight if you are interested in growing and consuming the freshest fruits and vegetables. If you are not lucky enough to have a personal tour of his farm, you can find Farmer Clarence and chat with him about growing your own at the Farmers and Artisans Market held on Wednesdays at Camana Bay from midday (though get there earlier if you can!). [Note that this market has now morphed into a new, twice-weekly Local Harvest Market – Wednesdays and Saturdays - with farmers selling local produce from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Heliconia Court, just until November when the full on market returns].
Hamlin Stephenson is another popular local farmer who has been the pioneer of the farmers market by the cricket pitch in George Town, which is actually named after him: The Hamlin Stephenson Farmers' Market at The Cricket Square. Buy all manner of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other locally made produce such as juices, jams and jellies at this popular market.
Encouragingly, the younger generation has also seen the benefits of growing your own in Cayman, with young Caymanian farmer Josh Clark leading the way at The Farmacy located in North Side. His farm has been the mainstay of many people’s refrigerators in recent years as his veg boxes have grown in popularity, with freshness and doorstep delivery key drivers for people purchasing his quality produce. Farmer Josh also encourages school children to come and be involved in the farm, thereby teaching the next generation the skills needed to continue farming in the Cayman Islands.