My earliest recollection of small farmers in Jamaica were men in earth stained clothes with machete in hand, leisurely walking to or from their farms. The women were often leading their donkeys with large hampers laden with farm produce to sell at a nearby market or stall.
Small farming, while not a glamorous vocation is unquestionably vital to any economy. Working all day in the sun cultivating crops amid adverse changes in the climate, limited resources and weak infrastructural support epitomize their resilience. Visit most small farmers’ holdings and you are likely to find a variety of crops. In the mountains many grow Jamaica’s world-famous coffee; in dryer regions are yams and other root crops, while on the plains banana, cane and citrus. Everyone has a vegetable garden and poultry to supplement the family’s income.
In Jamaican artworks of rural landscapes small farmers are often lead subjects. Fitzroy Symister’s paintings titled, Cross Roads and Coconut Pickers at Expérience Jamaïque gallery are classic examples of this theme. Several folk songs were also inspired by the lives of small farmers. Here is a song written by two Jamaican folklorists about a group of farmers spending an evening together after a long day’s work…enjoy!
Evening Time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQdSZ50vu_Y
Hill 'n Gully Ride: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCpTkfYVHpQ