52nd Annual Agriculture Show at the Stacy Watler Pavillion was filled with the very best of Cayman’s produce, livestock, crafts and so many things that link us to the soil, and to our roots, and to one another. There are so many things, especially for children to do that make it one of the best family days out for an Ash Wednesday holiday. As always, it’s the early birds who get the very best – and avoid the worst of the traffic. But inside there were already long lines for some of the lovely fruit tree saplings, grown by the Agriculture Department, which prove to be popular year after year. Fruit trees are a real blessing, and they are the gift that keeps on giving.
Of course, young children always like to see the animals, and there were cows, goats, pigs, and wonderful, fancy chickens and huge roosters with magnificent plumage. Some of the bigger cows made some pretty loud moos, scaring some of the smaller children away, but daddy or mommy were there to hold their hands, and take them to see the goats instead. There were many different kinds from Billy goats with big beards and curly horns to gentle mothers with their kids. Agriculture shows bring out the very best in farmers, as they strive to outdo each other year after year. It is something we can all celebrate and be proud of. Cayman is only small, but it always puts on a mighty fine show that could rival the very best in the region.
There were stalls for garden-fresh tomatoes, lettuces, cassava, bright yellow scotch bonnet peppers as well as lots of big seasoning peppers, too. There were lots of limes and guava and zucchinis, cucumbers and cantaloupe. Eating locally means eating healthy produce. You know it hasn’t spent weeks on a big ship, or hasn’t been picked long before it was ripe and then force-ripened with chemicals or sprayed, over and over again with toxic pesticides. Another difference you’ll enjoy – really enjoy- is the flavor. If all you’re used to is produce from the supermarket, just taste the difference when you pop a locally-grown tomato into your mouth.
As always, there were plenty of crafts to be seen. Silver Thatch bags, hats and baskets – made well enough to last a lifetime. This year there were some particularly impressive ornate dolls, each wearing lovely hand-sewn dresses. But of course, Caymanians are not only good at growing, they are also particularly gifted at making wonderful products such as delicious preserves sauces and jams and juices. Local produce is growing into a real cottage-industry, and out-of-season ingredients can be frozen for processing. “These are all local delicacies made with all natural, and all-local ingredients” said Mr Donnie Dixon, owner of Adelaide’s Kitchen. He makes all manner tarts and heavy-cakes in his kitchen along with mango jam, guava jam and stewed plums. “We also have pickled peppers; a lot of people go for that but the sweets are the big hit.”
‘Healthy Alternatives’ is a business which makes all kinds of skin treatments, using gentle coconut oil as a base. Zena Rochester stated it about ten years ago, she said, after they found out that her grandson was allergic to many different substances, and coconut oil had some remedial effects. “I make everything; I make a lip gloss, and soaps, and tea tree oil for cuts and bruises. I have deodorants, a pain killer, and a vapour-rub. All the coconut oil is local, because my uncle has 200 trees in North Side,” she said.
Bodden Town Heritage Committee always go the extra mile with their charming and wonderful displays. Last year it was a Caymanian man riding a bicycle, all made out of fruits and vegetables. This year they had a lovely little donkey, careful crafted, to show the importance of animal traction in Cayman’s past – something which is often forgotten.