By Christopher Tobutt
If the 49th Annual Agriculture Show at the Stacy Watler Pavilion was anything to go by, agriculture of all types is growing and thriving in the Cayman Islands.
Clarence McLaughlin, a Bodden Town farmer, certainly had plenty of fruits and vegetables for sale. “We have a 10,000 square foot greenhouse,” he said, “And we’ve expanded it now to 16,000 square feet.”
Altogether Mr McLaughlin has around 16 acres. “We have over 200 avocado trees, four or five hundred coconut trees and I’m planting (another) 2000 coconut trees. We do tremendous business with coconuts, and everything here is grown locally – white radish, plantains, sweet potato, scotch bonnet pepper, okra. We also have apple, banana, green banana, pumpkin, sugar cane, we have water spinach, mustard greens, eggplant and bitter melon,” he said.
But of course, Caymanians are not only good at growing, they are also particularly gifted at making wonderful products such as delicious preserves and sauces and jams and juices from whatever the earth brings forth.
Carlton’s Variety Stall had all kinds of locally made vinegar on display, and owner, Carlton West, was only too pleased to show me each one: “This is mango vinegar,” he said, holding up a litre bottle containing a rich, reddish orange liquid, “this is banana vinegar, this is sugar cane vinegar. Everything is made from things which are grown here.”
Two friends and business ladies, Jennifer and Nannette were sharing a booth. Jennifer’s half, called Cake Diva was filled with delicious-looking cupcakes. “This is kind of my hobby, or more like an addiction right now; I do a little hobby-baking,” she said. Cake Diva specializes in custom made cakes, and on this day, Jennifer was encouraging people to come and help her decorate them.
Nanette’s side of the booth, called “K Creations,” consisted of what she described as “fabric flower accessories.” That means delightful ‘flowers’ with delicate petals made from different coloured cloth.
There were large and small headbands full of flowers, so that elegant ladies and girls can dress up with beautiful floral garlands; just like ladies from classical Greece.
This year, there was something really lovely for the children – a petting zoo area, so that children and their parents could go inside and pet the friendly donkey, Shetland pony, and goats. It was nice that they had thought of that, I don’t remember it being there last year, but hopefully it will be there next year. Parents love to take small children to see the goats, cows, pigs, horses and chickens, and it’s good to be allowed to stroke them and interact with them rather than just look at them.
Crafts were abundant, too, and it was particularly good to see some exquisite traditional quilt work on display, amongst the other items. There were silver thatch baskets, bags and hats, all woven from leaves Cayman’s National Tree – the Silver Thatch Palm, and there were some lovely paintings of sunsets which really caught my eye.
“I believe the Agricultural Show continues to be a success because thankfully, a love for fresh produce and farming has been ingrained in our population over the generations,” noted Premier Alden McLaughlin.