Farm store doubles as recreational venue
Proprietor Maurice Kildare takes pride in giving back to community
THE St Thomas Farm Store is doing more than just catering to the agricultural needs of the parish as the business, located on the outskirts of Morant Bay, often doubles as a recreational spot for residents of this eastern parish.
Proprietor Maurice Kildare said he has always tried to create a space for residents to socialise during special occasions such as Christmas and during the staging of major sporting events.
Kildare, who also owns the Farm Courtyard where the farm store is located, said he deliberately designed the plaza with seating and a special ambience to accommodate people wishing to come there to relax.
"People want a place to commune and so I designed the plaza so people can sit and talk," he explained. Residents, he added, often come to the venue to take pictures.
The latest attraction at the plaza is a specially designed 'World Cup Village' where scores of residents gather on a daily basis to watch the football matches. According to Kildare, he opted to create the temporary venue for the viewing of the matches after realising that people in some parts of the parish were experiencing difficulties with the reception on the local television channel. As such, he immediately set about identifying a way to get a live feed of the games via satellite.
"I eventually found a way to bring clean digital signal and so I set up these screens and now we are transmitting in high definition," he said, pointing to the LCD television sets strategically placed in the venue.
Explaining how he converted the farm store greenhouse into a place where persons could comfortably sit and watch the games throughout the day, Kildare said he removed the original covering and installed a proper roof to keep out sun and rain.
"I decided to design something where people can sit and watch the games and so I wanted enough television screens so that there would be no impediment to customers going and coming into the store," he said.
Not only do people get to watch the games but they also have the opportunity of winning giveaways during half-time. A frequently updated scoreboard provided the scores for those wanting to pop in briefly.
On the opening day of the World Cup, Kildare said the crowd that the venue attracted, overflowed on to the streets.
"Because of that I had to put up a netting as a safeguard because people were almost in the road watching it from across the street and that could be dangerous," he said.
Before long, Kildare said persons were asking about refreshments and so he began selling popcorn, hot dogs and soda.
"We decided not to bring in any alcoholic beverages because a lot of students come in here, too, to watch the games," he told the Jamaica Observer North East.
People, he said, came from as far as Bull Bay to watch the games in the village.
Kildare is, however, not a stranger to giving back to the community, having sponsored the annual Farm Queen Festival competition and provided financial assistance for a number students to attend the College of Agriculture Science and Education.
Kildare, who serves as chairman of the Morant Bay Primary School Board, said he is driven to helping others because of his own experiences growing up.
"I know all the struggles my mother went through (but) because of her resilience and effort I say if I can give back I will do everything in my power to do so," he said. Kildare also said that he has a particular desire to help persons attain an education.