An assortment of peppers, plantains and tomatoes at the George Town farmers market represent a life of planning and hard work for Marilyn Nasirun.
“I grew up loving to farm. I used to always go to the backyard farm and take care of the chicken coop and get eggs for the family for the week,” she said, reminiscing about her childhood in Bodden Town.
Now retired, she spent her working years doing office work in West Bay, where she daydreamed of getting back to the land.
“I worked as a paralegal and I was still doing my farming while doing my active job. I would leave my job at 4 o’clock on West Bay Road and drive to the East End just to water my plants as a hobby,” she said from behind her farm stand, One Love.
“I wish I had retired 20 years ago. It’s on my own time. I come here to the market Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.”
A property acquisition in 2005 allowed her to begin cultivating her East End vision and switch to farming full time when she retired in 2011. She cleared out the land, with some help from her husband, set up an electricity supply and hooked up a well pump for watering crops.
In those early days, there was no road access to her property, so Ms. Nasirun would walk with two five gallon buckets inland to water her plants.
The land now has road access, as well as a farm house and jacuzzi out back for relaxation.
Depending on the season, she now sells jackfruit, avocados, mangoes, soursop, naseberries and other tropical fruits at market.
At the farm, she works with pigs, goats and chickens, but reserves meat sales to friends and families.
Even with her farm set up and running, however, she said agriculture is not an easy path in the Cayman Islands. Lack of road access and electricity still affects many farmers on the East End, she said.
Local producers also face pricing competition with supermarkets. She said she mostly sells produce to foreign shoppers and that locals prefer shopping around for lower prices at the supermarkets.
For Ms. Nasirun’s personal needs, supermarket shopping is mostly a thing of the past. Her land provides most of the produce and meat she needs for her family.
“I’m just trying to grow a salt fish tree now,” she said with a laugh.
She would like to get her grandchildren involved in farming, but says the passion for agricultural work must come naturally.