The Agriculture show keeps getting better every year. Agriculture of all kinds is on the rise in Cayman right now, as the market for healthy, fresh, locally-grown food continues to grow. People are finding out that local fruits are just better tasting that imported food, which is subjected to more chemicals and isn’t nearly so fresh.
There were wonderful displays of produce under the big main tent, and lots of visitors had come early to pick the cream of the crop. There were huge breadfruit like pumpkins, cassava, Sweet potato, and coconuts on one stall. It was piled high. Then on another stall there were huge tomatoes the size of oranges, and peppers, from the red hot scotch bonnets to the season peppers. There were traditional Caribbean vegetables for greens, as well as lettuces that looked like the crowns of jolly green giants. Then there were fruits – star apples, naseberries, mulberries, guava. It is great to see so much happening and being grown, and thriving here.
Of course, moms and dads like to show young children the cows, goats, and chickens, and the children love to come face-to-face with them. It was a very child-friendly event, and there was a special children’s corner with slides and games, and there was a bouncy castle too. There weren’t any pigs this year, sadly. When I asked one of the officials why, he said that the main pig farmer who usually brings them hadn’t brought any this year. But there were plenty of horses, and children and their parents were lining up for horseback riding.
His Excellency the Governor, Martyn Roper OBE said, “Despite the small size of the islands and the scarcity of agricultural land I know that Cayman has a long and rich agricultural heritage. Locally produced food is not only tasty and healthy but it also helps the environment and the local economy. We should all look to buy local first.”
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin said: “While we still see many backyard gardeners who grow foodstuffs as a hobby, there are some very serious and successful farmers throughout the Cayman Islands, some of them sustainable and alternative methods.”
George Smith, President, Cayman Islands Agricultural Society said “The theme, ‘Commitment to Sustainable Agriculture in a Changing World,’ backed by the sub-theme of, ‘When you eat local, you are involved in agriculture,” is a fitting reminder of what is happening in today’s world.”
Each year, more and more people are starting up businesses that process locally grown crops. There was more than one sugar-cane juice machine I could see, where the operator put the sugar cane in between two rollers, turned a handle flattening the sugar cane while out came the most refreshing juice. People couldn’t buy enough of it. Everyone is getting a taste for the Cayman Islands. Then there are the pepper jellies, preserves of all kinds, and fruit juices, from guava to passion fruit.
Joelle Walton grows a huge variety of crops on his couple of acres in Lower Valley, and his variety of fruit trees alone was just as amazing: “I’ve got Star apple guinep, naseberry, guava, kalanchoe, sweet sap, Malay apple, pomegranate, vine grapes, java plum, custard apple, mulberry…” he said. He was selling fruit juices and coconut water, too, as well as a very big range of produce.
No Agriculture show would be complete without mentioning traditional art and crafts, and in the main building there were award-winning samples of exquisite silver thatch work – hats, bags, baskets, and there were also artists with beautiful paintings, too. Then there were the food vendors, selling all kinds of fried fish, plantains, heavy cake. Its one of the things that makes the Agriculture show so enjoyable – you don’t just see it; you eat it.
There were some beautiful displays from each of the districts, in the main building. Bodden Town Heritage Committee always put together something different, but this year they really excelled, by making a life-size man on a bicycle, all made out of fruits, vegetables and sugar-cane. His body was a big bunch of bananas, the bicycle’s frame was sugar cane, and his head was a coconut. But he looked alive, with a hand of little bananas on the handlebar, and big wheels filled with carrots, tomatoes and cucumbers. Committee member Betty wood was there, explaining how hard they all worked to make the produce-man. “His name is Bobo,” she said.