Beacon Farms is pushing ahead with plans to produce coconut oil, grow tobacco and experiment with other marketable products to help fund its work with recovering addicts.
The North Side farm provides work and sometimes housing for people trying to turn their lives around.
It is also developing into an ‘idea farm’, experimenting with crops and products that are not typically grown in Cayman.
Granger Haugh, the founder and principal funder of the farm, which is a spin-off of the Bridge Foundation halfway house, said the aim was to help develop modern agricultural methods in Cayman and find new methods and potentially new industries.
The farm is fully staffed by people in the ‘recovery community’.
It aims to help them find stable employment and potentially develop sustainable agriculture businesses.
Haugh said the farm was also looking into a range of products that could help support the farm and other charities in the Cayman Islands.
A related business, the Cayman Cigar Company, has already opened in Bodden Town, selling locally made cigars. The farm is experimenting with growing tobacco and hopes to ultimately provide locally grown leaves to the blend to help create a genuinely Caymanian product.
The next step will be the opening of a lab for processing coconuts. Machinery has been brought in to help create a variety of products including coconut oil and coconut flour.
The processing lab could also be adapted for other jobs, such as processing mango into frozen chunks when there is a surplus.
It is hoped that the products will help make the farm self sustaining.
“We hope that eventually the farm will be able to cover its costs,” said Haugh, a retired chemist from the US who supports both the farm and the Bridge Foundation through his family’s charitable foundation, which he runs with his son Scott.
Haugh said the farm, which opened in 2017, was intended to be a second step for people after they had been through a recovery programme. He said it allowed them to work with others living a sober and drug-free life in a healthy workplace.
Scott Haugh said they were also looking to experiment with modern methods in agriculture and use the farm as an incubator to develop ideas that could lead to new Cayman products for the local market or export.
“We want to develop a workforce that is interested in agricultural innovation,” he said.
“Typically, this has not been a trade that every Caymanian wants to be involved in. It has always been a case of ‘Here’s a hoe, get to work.’”
But he said farming was changing and could lead to exciting new careers for people in the recovery community.
“We are big believers in second chances,” he said. “That is why we are doing this.”