By Christopher Tobutt
Thousands of people came to the 48th Annual Agriculture Show. Early risers beat the long lines of traffic by getting there early – and picking up the cream of the crop too! But, like most years, there was plenty for everyone, even the latecomers, and something interesting for all ages.
Of course, young children always like to see the animals, and there were cows, goats, pigs, and wonderful, fancy chickens with feathery feet. Some of the bigger animals were a bit scary for the very little children, but the goats are always a child-friendly attraction, of course, because little kids always love little kids.
Those who were looking for produce weren’t disappointed either: there were plenty of healthy, good, low-tech locally grown tomatoes, lettuces, cassava, red hot, bright yellow scotch bonnet peppers, and don’t forget those luscious papayas.
The Agriculture show always shows us what an important place agriculture still has in our economy. And why not? It wasn’t so long ago that people here depended on produce from what they called their ‘grounds’ to help them stay healthy, when there was so little employment and times were tough. And although times are not as bad as they were then, sometimes we feel might feel we need all the help we can get. So if you have a little land, no matter how small, you can make a big difference by growing some of what you need. Raised beds, made with strips of wood forming a rectangle and filled with good soil are great for growing all kinds of produce that are expensive in the stores: tomatoes and peppers for instance; and what about some lovely garden fresh herbs, such as basil or oregano or mint?
Pumpkins often grow very well in the rocky soil we have on Grand Cayman but often need ‘babying’ in the early growth stages. And is your soil poor? Don’t be too quick to apply expensive artificial fertilizers: A compost bin can easily be made by screwing four old wooden pallets together, and then you’ve got somewhere to put all your grass-cuttings and fallen leaves. Just wait a few months, and you’ll have lovely compost for free.
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 home-grown slice of tomato into your mouth. If you can’t grow at home, don’t worry – all the supermarkets in Cayman support local farmers by having locally grown produce sections. Soon, too, there will be a new farmers market next to the cricket pitch in George Town, to compliment the regular Saturday morning Market at the Grounds (in the Stacey Watler Pavilion) or Camama Bay’s Wednesday afternoon traditional town market.
As always, there were plenty of crafts to be seen. Rose May Ebanks had a stall of the most exceptional and exquisite Silver Thatch bags, hats and baskets – made well enough to last a lifetime. And Cayman Brac’s Coleen Gibson was displaying all the wonderful things her talented hands have made – from beautiful Caymanite jewelry to bright, cheerful knitted bags and purses. But perhaps the real star of the show was musician Allan (“Bunny”) Myles’ electric guitar – with a body made from local hardwood, and carved into the shape of Grand Cayman.