The quiet hillside community of Haddo in Westmoreland has remained unchanged for decades, with most commuters from Montego Bay to Savanna-la-Mar barely noticing the decades-old village signpost.
But on January 22 2015, Haddo sparkled in the spotlight as hundreds of American tourists spent the day there planting 10 acres of high-grade organic ginger on land that two weeks earlier was dense weeds and bushes. Decked out in jeans, T-shirts, work boots or sneakers, caps, and farming gloves, teams of happy and enthusiastic visitors crawled through rows of dirt under the Jamaican sun to plant ginger several inches below ground level.
The ginger project is a partnership between doTERRA, a Utah-based company that is the world’s largest seller of essential oils, and Farm Up Jamaica, a non-profit organization based in New York that is committed to assisting farmers grow more organic local produce, export more, and import less into the island.
“We are absolutely thrilled to be here in beautiful Jamaica planting some of the best ginger in the world, and we want our efforts here to impact the lives of Jamaicans in this community,” Gregory Cook, co-founder and executive vice-president of doTERRA said. Cook also pointed out that at the end of the harvest period in less than a year, all the ginger would be bought back by his company, which will use it to make essential oils. doTERRA’s products are distributed in more than 50 countries around the world.
Neil Curtis, founder and chairman of Farm Up Jamaica Ltd, was equally excited about the success of the planting initiative. “Today proves that we can replicate this concept on a bigger scale right here in Jamaica many times over, and we are certainly looking for more support from across the Jamaican diaspora to enable us to do more,” he stated.
Hundreds of visitors getting their hands and feet dirty from planting ginger in Jamaica was an unusual sight for sure. A few of them even came from France, China, Japan, and Mexico to join in. One participant, Stephanie Newton, from North Idaho was so caught up in the experience that she took her three-month old baby, Rudie, along to the farm.
But more remarkable was the fact that the day’s operation was directed by teenage students from the Knockalva Agricultural School in nearby Ramble. The Jamaican students are learning about the viability of farming as a lifelong career, and they flawlessly executed the ginger operation, taking advantage of the hands-on experience that this project provided. They quickly bonded with the visitors and brought the ginger-planting mission to completion ahead of the 5 p.m. scheduled target.
Become a part of the solution! We invite you to bring your group to help us change the face of farming for communities who really need it!!!
Send us your request at: Farm@Farmupjamaica.org