EDITORIAL – Agriculture Show offers a chance to reconnect

Young livestock farmer William Ebanks with piglets from Willie’s Farm in North Side at one of the enclosures at the Agriculture Show. - Photo: Jewel Levy

Readers will want to wake up with the roosters tomorrow to be sure they are at The Grounds in Lower Valley bright and early.

They will have plenty of company as islanders flock to the annual Cayman Islands Agriculture Show – one of the year’s most anticipated events.

Now in its 52nd year, the “Ag Show” has become a generational tradition as families from town and country look forward to the chance to celebrate and reconnect with our agricultural heritage. Thousands of islanders and visitors will spend the day strolling through the Stacy Watler Agricultural Pavilion, marveling at healthy livestock and fine specimens of pumpkins, peppers, bananas, plantain, callaloo and yams.

The Agriculture Show is a feast for the senses, where one can delight in local handicrafts, cast a keen eye over vendors’ offerings, coo over cute babies and soak in local talent. It is a time to see and chat with old friends and neighbors too rarely met in the hurried day to day.

It offers a chance to reconnect with our simpler past and grab hold of a serving (or two, or more) of stew beef, turtle, conch or other favorites. Who is counting? After all, this celebration comes only once a year.

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As today’s Front Page story so clearly recounts, the Agriculture Show has changed over the decades, as have our island and our population. The annual show is a tradition for many, but it is more than a stroll down memory lane.

In a world where so much is necessarily complicated and fragmented, the Ag Show offers a place for us to come together and enjoy simple pleasures. It also provides an important opportunity to learn more about Grand Cayman’s agricultural present; to get to know the small but thriving network of local growers whose eggs and produce stock our grocers’ shelves and farmers’ markets.

Today, although most of our food is grown overseas and harvested from shipping containers, a core group of around 300 dedicated farmers persevere in tilling the soil, nurturing plants and animals, and earning the satisfaction of reaping what they have sown. Wednesday is a day for them and the members of the Cayman Islands Agricultural Society to shine.

Who knows, perhaps they will even inspire a few novice gardeners to take home some plants of their own. To get their hands a little dirty. To experience the deep and quiet satisfaction to be found in the simple magic of combining seed, sun, water and soil.

Generations ago, Cayman’s population farmed out of necessity. Growing one’s own food was a matter of survival. For all we treasure about Cayman’s heritage, no one would argue that we should ever go back to those days of scarcity and pluck.

At the same time, roots grow deep. Cayman’s past is a larger part of our prosperous and cosmopolitan present than we may sometimes be inclined to think. The key is knowing how to honor the values that brought Cayman success – tenacity, self-reliance, strong community – while pushing forward to an even brighter future.

Every plant, every person knows to do this intuitively: To stay firmly planted and keep turning its face to the sun.

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