News

Three women and their farm!

BY RENAE DIXON Sunday Observer staff reporter dixonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, March 02, 2014    

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AT a time when unemployment is on the rise and many are facing economic hardship, three St Mary women are ensuring that their family never goes hungry.

Sisters Paulette Simmonds and Elmarita Simmonds Shaw, along with their cousin and retired postmistress Pauline Simmonds, have not only been carrying out regular domestic duties in the house as mothers and wives, but the women have been engaged in wide scale farming in their community of Islington, Central St Mary.

The women say that they have not only been able to feed their families, but have been selling their produce in their community, as well as taking some of their crops to the market in Port Maria.

"We plant everything that comes our way ... that mean we can't hungry," Pauline Simmonds said.

The women who operate separate farms in close proximity are proud rural farmers who are not ashamed of what they do.

"It no make we rich, but it make us independent," Elmarita Simmonds Shaw said.

Not only are they able to provide for their families, but the women also enjoy what they do.

"It sweet and nice," Pauline Simmonds said. "We love the farming. It's hard work, but it's nice," Shaw Simmonds added.

Although as women the work is challenging, they insist that they will continue the challenge and believe that other women can do the same.

"Other women who sit down not doing anything they can do it too, but many women tell themselves that they can't do farming, that they can't bill (cut) the grass, they can't fork the land. That is not true. We do it as women and they can do it too," Shaw Simmonds stated.

The women plant a wide range of crops, including sorrel, string beans, bananas, plantains, peppers, potatoes, corn, yam and peas. They also do charcoal burning alongside their farming.

"Farming is very, very good because when you farm you can achieve. It might not be big and you might not get a lump sum of money but at the same time you can send your children to school; you can still eat little food," Paulette Simmonds explained.

She also revealed that she sometimes hires help on her farm and so not only does her family benefit but she is

given the opportunity to provide employment for someone else.

The women say that they have always been doing farming, but for Pauline Simmonds, since retirement she has been able to dedicate more of her time to her passion.

The retired postmistress, who worked with the postal service for over 17 years, said that she enjoys what she does.

One scourge of farming — praedial larceny — is widespread in Jamaica. But happily, the women do not suffer heavy losses from that, something that they are grateful for.

Although they are busy and hard-working farmers, the women say farming does not take away their opportunity to do other things.

Both Pauline and Elmarita Simmonds Shaw are active members of the Islington Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

As Christians, the women say that they always give God thanks for whatever their farm yields.

For Simmonds Shaw, being a farmer allows her to see the beauty of God daily.

"We see God in the plants, everything around, the birds singing," she said.

"Before we go to work we pray and we work and we give God thanks. When we dig the food we lift it up and tell God thanks for it because He is blessing us," she disclosed.

While they may not be earning millions, farming has allowed the women to establish a level of independence.

"We may not be rich, but we are independent," she said.

Although at times it gets challenging and there may be areas that they would like to get help with, such as with fertilisers and seedlings, the women say that they will always be doing farming and will not be giving up on their chosen profession.

"We can't hungry," Pauline Simmonds reiterated.

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