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.

Marilyn Nasirun feeds one of her pigs at her East End farm. Photo: Jewel Levy

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.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Farming and trying to make Cayman Islands more self – efficient and not have to depend on importing everything.
    What is the Government of the Cayman Islands doing to help those people to pursue their dreams of being farmers so that their kids can see the benefits of being a farmer?

    When Ms. Nasirum said that local producers / farmers also face pricing competition with Supermarkets.
    How can a Supermarket pay purchase cost , shipping, and import duty too and still be able to sell cheaper than having it produced locally ?

    Could this be that Government is giving these Supermarkets a big break on import duties that is discouraging the farmer from expanding and growing their farms ?

    I think that those people who are interested in farming needs to open their mouth to Government and not be scared to talk .

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  2. Marilyn did not tell you. but this love for farming came from generations. Her grand mother was Antionette Levy[ Grand Ma Netty from Granny back yard stories, and Grand ma Netty had three farms. She had one in a place called “Caught-to Ground” One in “Grass Piece” and a “Back yard Garden” at her place of residence Granny Backyard. In granny backyard she grew sweet potatoes of all kind. Red skin, white skin and blue skin., Now this is where marlin begin to liked the farming, but it was to reap the produce. She could find a fit sweet potato no matter how deep or hidden it was. She and Siggy, from Siggy Bags, would raid grandma sweet potatoes every evening[ and dirt, there was no such ting as washing them off. Just vipeg them in frock tail and ate everything raw. No one got sick those days and we ate ripe plantain right from the tree and sweet potatoes and cassava raw . So marlin had the taste of farming from the time she was about ten years old. Not only did she like to farm, she is an excellent fisher woman. She can fish catch sprats and clean fish better than any fisherman. Dive conch and tow for barracuda. You see we come from a long line of ambitious generation. Carpentry, farming, fishing, art, banking and you name it. Marilyn’s farm is so interesting, because she has a little bit of everything growing. She even tried her had at some plants which we never thought would grow here, like Pecans, Acai Berry, Lychee, and a few others . She is very happy when the rainy seasons come because everything is just too Lucius, a real beauty to look at.

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