Poultry farmer Ivy Thomas keeps her community going
…distributes care packages to neighbours in needWednesday, June 10, 2020
BY OBSERVER BUSINESS WRITER
It's a breezy Friday morning in Colbeck, St Catherine, not far from Old Harbour, and Ivy Thomas is on a mission. She has already surveyed her poultry operation, Thomas' Farms, and assigned duties to her team members. Now, in a demonstration of community love, she's getting ready to distribute care packages to her neighbours.
Thomas underplays her giving, especially during this time of COVID-19 with a matter-of-fact shrug.
“I have to do what I can,” she says and with that, she turns to organising the food packages she's procured from The Best Dressed Chicken and readies for the arrival of the families she's helping. Thomas's self-effacing aside, her work to support those who need it most is admired.
“We call her for everything. She's like my daughter. Look at today; what she's given me and I never expected it. God is good,” says Ruby Rowe, one of the care package recipients.
Thomas's roots run deep in this quiet community, going back from before she started the farm with her now-deceased husband, Oswald.” We've been living in Old Harbour for a long time, we couldn't leave and go anywhere else, and as you can see, Colbeck is cool and safe. It's a beautiful place to live.”
However, the past three months have been difficult for Thomas as well as her neighbours. In quick time, the anxiety and uncertainty of living in a pandemic pierced the rhythm of life in the rural community. Yet she remains defiant in facing down the challenges.
“You learn that you have to think more of others in this time,” she said. “You might be able to go to the shop, the person next to you may not be able to. If there is any lesson in all of this, it's that people must be more caring, to share whatever they have.”
One would think that at 72, Thomas would be looking to take life easier, but she is defiant about working, starting as early as 6:00 am each day to manage production at two chicken houses, each with a capacity of 10,000 birds.
“Sometimes, I am even up at 2:00 am. I am not a 'stay in bed' kind of a person. I have to work. The more you work, the less stressed you are,” she stated with conviction in her eyes.
“Ivy Thomas represents the best of the Jamaican farmer. Like all of us, she faces challenges every day, but she never forgets the people around her. Yes, she has built a remarkable poultry farm. Still, more importantly, by her giving and her compassion, she strengthens her community, and that is the true measure of her success,” says Dave Fairman, vice-president at The Best Dressed Chicken.
Just as the sun gets high, Thomas hands over the last food box to welcoming hands. She moves with lightning speed to return to her work on the farm. On her trail is Rowe, observing Thomas with quiet admiration.
“I'm going to call my neighbour and give her some of this food,” whispers Rowe and just like that Thomas's mantra of caring and sharing manifests and multiplies to someone else.
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