Dr Geoffery Williams: Animal Farm & Nature Reserve Part 2

Dr Geoffery Williams: Animal Farm & Nature Reserve Part 2

The Unlikely Gardener
Ashley-Ann Foster

Sunday, November 29, 2020

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In this week's conclusion The Unlikely Gardener takes us back to Dr Geoffery Williams' oasis.

Doc's faves

1. As far as flowering plants are concerned, I would include yellow and red shrimp plants, Thryallis. Yellow Japanese Hat, thunbergia vine, various shades of ginger — pink, red, white and torch ginger.

2. My favourite herbs in terms of their pleasant aromatic smell are fevergrass and pennyroyal at the top of the list.

3. Regarding trees, I love the unique way fruit hang from the stems of the chocolate tree (cocoa) and Jackfruit. In addition, the Star Apple tree is interesting with its leaves being shiny green on top and matte brown on the underside. It is actually listed as one of the exotic trees of the world.

4. For animals, I am somewhat partial to birds. Of the wild type, the robin red breast (Jamaican Tody) with its striking colours, and the Streamertail Hummingbird or Doctor Bird, our national bird, with its long and impressive scissor tail, the iridescent green feathers, and the smart crest on its head.

5. My farm favourites are the fasta fowl (our signature bird) whose name was originally coined at Animal Farm. These chickens sport tufts of feathers on their heads that look like dreadlocks. One example is the White Crested Black Polish chicken, which was the first we acquired but there are more. I also think the male Red Golden Pheasant and Mandarin Duck have to be two of the most beautiful in the world.

Dr Williams notes, “I get a lot of advice from my wife and two sisters who are also avid gardeners. Plus, I have had a lot of success using organic fertilisers sourced right here at the farm. We use animal waste from the birds and other animals like our lovely cow Molly. We also produce an excellent organic fertiliser as a by-product of our biodigester system. At Animal Farm we run all the waste from our piggery through a biodigester to produce biogas, which is mainly methane, to run a fridge at the main house. We also use it for cooking.” How cool is that?

Sharing his secret eco-friendly formula for the ever-pesky whiteflies he advises us all to be patient gardeners. “Gardening is an activity that takes time and sometimes trial and error. Arm yourself with books and the Internet to learn as much as you can. If you find that your plants are diseased in any way, try natural remedies!” Here's the white fly prescription:

2 teaspoons neem oil (or any vegetable oil)

1 teaspoon eco-friendly liquid soap

500 millilitres (about 16 ounces) of water

Mix well, pour into spray bottle, slowly to prevent too many bubbles. Apply after sunset to prevent “burning” of foliage.

For the beginner…

Amidst the global pandemic, Animal Farm & Nature Reserve may just be the prescription that you need — a day trip or a few rustic nights with nature.

The true beauty of Dr Williams and his Animal & Reserve story is that there is always more beneath the gentle quietude and pleasant humility than meets the eye. Many thanks to the Good Doc for sharing the depth in the chapters of his nature loving manuscript. If you're in the west a day at Animal Farm & Nature Reserve would definitely be one well spent. Mother Nature, Dr Williams and his family will be there to greet you with open arms.

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