TANGLE RIVER, St James — Patricia Stennett farmed alongside her husband for years, starting in the 1990s, until he died four years ago.
Now the 77-year-old, more popularly known as “Miss Patsy”, runs three farms in rural St James, getting out of bed at 6:00 am five days a week to make sure everything is in order.
A sample of her produce was enough to earn her the title Champion Female Farmer at the recently held Montpelier Agricultural Show.
The mother of 10 loves farming and longs for the day when youngsters see it as a viable career.
“We soon gone and we want young people to come up now come do some of it, otherwise Jamaica going to flip. The young people don’t want to work, young people don’t want to work at all,” she lamented.
Though she would like to see fresh faces in farming, she has no intention of putting her feet up and relaxing any time soon.
“I don’t know when mi a go stop, I will just go on till the body tell mi say it can’t manage. But fi now, I will continue doing it,’” she told the Jamaica Observer, during a recent visit to one of her farms while she packed pineapples into her car destined for a customer in St Elizabeth the following day.
“Dem can make a money out of it but them not going to do it. Nuff a dem nah come a bush,” she continued on the topic of youngsters’ attitude to farming.
Stennett is grateful that she still has good health and energy to work the land.
Her farms — one 17 acres, another seven acres and the third five acres — are in Roper district in Tangle River, and Prosper in Maroon Town.
She grows a variety of mixed crops including pineapple, banana, plantain, yam, dasheen, and more. Sundays and Mondays are the only days she is not at work by 6:00 am.
On Saturdays she can be found in the Charles Gordon Market where she sells her produce.
Stennett has a theory about her source of abundant energy.
“We always do butchering. Mi husband always kill cow so me eat nuff a di cow cod. So a the cow cod inna mi yah now; the tripe, the cow skin. Mi feed mi body well. Look ’bout myself, sleep inna good bed,” she said.
Seven of her children are still alive but they all live overseas — five in the US and two in England.
Stennett is content with her life, in general, but is concerned that there are some major challenges ahead for farming.
“The Government should come in and subsidise all the manure them what bring the crop. It too expensive. One bag a manure $15,000. When manure was selling for $4,000 or $6,000 all 30 bag mi haffi drop over here; can’t even drop one now,” she lamented.
Despite the hurdle, Stennett is still determined to keep on farming. In fact, she plans to expand one of her farms, just as soon as she can get the land cleared.