The Cayman Islands Agriculture Show celebrated its golden year with a diverse display of local farming, food and culture at the Lower Valley Agricultural Grounds.
Agriculture Minister Kurt Tibbetts described the event as a cultural mainstay and Grand Cayman’s single largest, annual event.
“This show has brought families together to celebrate farmers, ranchers and backyard gardeners,” Mr. Tibbetts said during the morning’s opening remarks.
Now in its 50th year, Mr. Tibbetts said the event has shown spectacular growth from its first year in the center of George Town. He encouraged attendees to consider the steps that still need to be taken to promote sustainable agriculture for the world’s growing population.
George Smith, president of the Cayman Islands Agriculture Society, pointed to population forecasts that highlight the need for greater global crop production. He asked festivalgoers to do their part in supporting agriculture by shopping local.
“I would like you guys to make sure you use your dollars and decide where your food is grown and how it is grown. Without the support of the communities, definitely the sector cannot grow,” Mr. Smith said.
Farmer Moses Grant of Hamlin’s Farm gave thanks for another good show. He said the crowds have grown year after year.
“We are still seeing more people. Each year is getting bigger and bigger,” he said from behind a farm stand full of fresh tomatoes, kale, scallions, sweet peppers and sweet potatoes.
He said low rains have affected yield, but he remained positive about the year ahead.
Farmer Donna Dunn of West Bay’s Bread of Life Nursery said whiteflies have been an issue this year, and have impacted fruit crops. She said the Department of Agriculture provided information at the show on how to fight the pest.
She was one of many vendors to participate in the farmers’ market, complemented by displays from the department and regional growing groups.
The show also provided a community element, beyond the typical livestock displays and agricultural demonstrations. Several social groups participated, including the Red Cross and the Cayman Aids Foundation.
CAF CEO Noel Cayasso-Smith said the group attends the show every year to promote community awareness and conduct a survey to gauge the current attitude toward HIV/AIDS.
He said the organization is helping to slowly break down stigma and misinformation, and that education will continue to be a priority. On March 4, CAF will host the Zero Discrimination Day 5K/10K.
The Prison Service also participated with paintings and crafts created through an art rehabilitation program.
Michelle Dennis-Powell, the prison literacy coordinator, said the art sold at the show provides current and former inmates with a creative outlet and a business that helps support their rehabilitation.
Officer Veranita Pennicooke of the women’s prison said the program has been a source of positivity that encourages inmates to participate and give back to the community.
Premier Alden McLaughlin attended the show’s morning activities, ahead of a scheduled trip to London where he will present as a keynote speaker and meet with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.