Local Grower Struggling to Compete Against Foreign Imports


Gary Chisholm is trying to make a living growing and selling plants here in the Cayman Islands. At his nursery in Hutland, North Side he mostly concentrates on shrubs and palm trees but he also has indigenous species for sale. ‘I’ve got sea grape, ironwood, silver thatch, pepper cinnamon, fiddlewood and mahogany.’

Growing plants locally would naturally seem to make sense. It creates jobs for Caymanians. The threat of importing foreign pests and insects is reduced and rather than sending money overseas to the big wholesalers in South Florida, the money stays here and circulates in the local economy. Despite the obvious positives of buying locally and supporting Caymanian producers, Chisholm says he is getting no support from the major local nurseries in town that supply the market. He claims most of them have not even bothered to come up and check out his plants. According to Gary Chisholm, ‘the only thing they don’t import is maiden plum because they can’t find it in South Florida; if they could find it there they would be importing that as well.’

Gary Chisholm.

Gary Chisholm.
Photo: Simon Boxall

Chisholm would like to see Government take a more proactive stance and place restrictions on the importation of certain plants that could easily be grown here and supplied by local producers. ‘Government could raise import duties by 50% to discourage the importation of certain plants that we can grow ourselves. There is a market out there, but currently we can’t access it.’

One of the local nurseries contacted by the Compass admitted they hadn’t yet been out to look at Chisholm’s nursery in North Side, but added that ‘Mr. Chisholm needs to improve his marketing and perhaps reduce his prices to be more competitive.’ In response Chisholm said the cost of land and water in Cayman made it challenging to compete against South Florida prices. ‘I am almost between a rock and a hard place with this, plenty of days I feel like giving up but this is what I know how to do.’

If you are interested in checking out Chisholm’s Nursery, it is about one mile down Hutland Drive on the left hand side.

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