Budding hobby produces fruit

Deanna Lookloy liked the way her mother tended the garden and got up each morning to pick fresh tomatoes from the backyard patch. 

Today it is no surprise that after retiring from a full-time job at the Children and Family Services that she would follow in her mother’s footsteps. 

“Growing food in a garden patch around the home was something Caymanian women loved to do in yesteryears. This was their way of supplementing a small income they received from the men overseas,” she said. 

Today a lot of Caymanian women are heading back to their roots of learn to grow what you eat and eat what you grow. 

Marilyn Nasirun also took up gardening after leaving her paralegal job. She purchased farming property and started a farm to supplement her income. Ida Rankine has tilled the soil in East End for over 20 years. Cayman women are returning to their roots of farming the land – doing it the way their forefathers did. 

Ms Lookloy always kept a small garden patch near her home growing flowers and short term crops but could never find time to put more hours into her budding hobby. Today with lots of time on her hands, she is getting a lot done on the farm. 

Purchasing three acres of land in High Rock East End she set about seeking information from other farmers, the Agriculture Department and friends to see how best she could propagate her pieces of land with a variety of local and highbred plants and trees. 

She puts great effort and care into nurturing her farm from seed planting to harvesting. Not a day goes by that she does not in some way connect with the trees in her grounds; for she loves the farm life. This has brought her friendships with other kindred growers through sharing ideas, plant clippings and seedlings. 

“I love farming, especially growing local plants and trees,” she said. After Hurricane Ivan she started planting trees. “I started with short time crops such as peppers, okra, calalloo and basil, sometimes working two to three days a week on the farm,” she said. 

Most of the crops go to family and friends. When there is abundance it is sold at supermarkets or given to Meals on Wheels to assist with lunches.  

Ms Lookloy so loves the idea of farming she even attended a six-week course in pest and organic treatment of plants at the Agriculture Department. 

She talks about how Cayman families raised their families from what they got from the land and sea and how women would plant short term crops around the home. 

“I remember my mother harvesting a lot of fresh produce from the little garden out back. Those days everyone kept a little garden,” she said. 

Trees grow every quickly on the farm she said, showing off a healthy looking mammy plant that was discovered not too long ago on the farm.  

“I saw the tree on the farm and wondered what it was but the helpers just kept cutting it down. It was not until a Jamaican came to work the farm that he told me it was a local fruit plant.” 

Most of the seeds on the farm are propagated by Ms Lookloy and she tries to get as many local plants as possible. “Trees on the farm bear quickly because the ground water is very good in the area and I have a very efficient irrigation system, which is being extended as the farm grows,” she adds. 

Dressed in high top boots Ms Lookloy makes her way around the farm. As she travels, she points out mangoes, longneck pears, plums, peppers, a curry tree, guavas, sweetsops soursops, bananas, plantain and a wide variety of tomatoes, beans, watermelon, corn, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, wangra, cassava peppers, yams and much more. 

Lookloy with curry leaf

Deanna Lookloy get a whiff of a curry leaf.

Lookloy with fruits

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