Minister encourages people to grow their own food

| 29/03/2012

backyard farm visits(104) (294x300).jpg(CNS): Following the sale of some 19,000 plants and seedlings at the three Agriculture Shows held over the last few weeks officials say that backyard farming is taking off again in Cayman and the ministry is urging more people to get involved. The agriculture minister is encouraging residents to get back to basics and grow something in their backyards to put on their respective dinner tables. “People would be surprised by the amount of food that can be harvested from a relatively small space,” Juliana O’Connor-Connolly. “Since we live in the tropics, we can grow most all year long. As food prices rise, these types of mini-farms take on new economic meaning.”

During the 60s and 70 many people grew their own mangoes and breadfruits but as the population grew fewer people planted trees. Then hurricanes Ivan and Paloma destroyed many fruit trees sending people to the stores for their mangoes and breadfruit. More and more people are once again buying and planting mango and breadfruit trees with the department of agriculture reporting a surge in demand in particular for mango trees.

Alongside the growing popularity of these trees more amateur farmers are turning their hands to cassava, pumpkins, yams, and sweet potatoes

Ministry officials advised that a 10’x10’ bed or plot can supplement at least a family of two throughout the growing seasons. Multiply the number of people you’d like to feed in your family by that 10 X 10 figure, and that’s roughly the amount of growing space you will need to supply your family with fresh vegetables and herbs. O’Connor-Connolly also noted there is generally much unused garden space in people’s backyard. Many of these plots would make suitable spacesfor a food garden.
Using grow-boxes and allowing children to see where food comes from is also very important,” the Minister said. “Plus, what’s better than going out in your yard and picking fruits, vegetable and herbs from your own garden? They are fresh, and are organic, for the most part. Obviously, locally grown food is fresher, and there is satisfaction in seeing how it’s grown.”

She added that backyard farming is one step in building a local food economy, food security and a more sustainable way of living.

Grow box requirements and construction:

Select an open, sunny area to locate your grow box. Prepare the area by removing all weeds, large rocks, etc.
Materials: 1. Lumber, 2. Nails, 3. Ground cover. Recommended Size of Box (LxWxD): 12' x 5'x 6" for shallow rooted crops OR  12' x 5’ x 12" for deep-rooted crops
Grow box growing medium (soil)
The following materials are recommended in the ratio given: 1 part Promix, 1 part Peatmoss and 1 part top-soil: Mix ingredients together thoroughly before filling your grow box.
Fertilizer requirement: One (1) tablespoon Triple Super Phosphate per hole at planting plus weekly applications of a soluble fertilizer e.g. Miracle-Gro or Phostrogen, at the recommended rate.
Pest control:  The best approach is "nature's alternative". Often the best – and cheapest – way to control garden pests is not with chemical pesticides. Nature provides many pest repellents such as shallot, mint, marigold and onion which when mixed in with crop plants can give effective pest control without harming beneficial insects or polluting the environment. Other useful ways of getting rid of pests include:
sprays of non-detergent insecticide soap;
regular scouting for pests and hand picking them; and
if pesticide is needed, protect the beneficial insects by using bio-pesticides (e.g. Dipel) and horticultural oils.
If pest presence is high, natural method is not very effective. In this case call the Department of AgricultureCrop: cabbage (different varieties), pak-choy, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato (different varieties),  cucumber, shallot, beets, and peppers (different varieties).

For more information contact Department of Agriculture 947-3090 or Email: ciagriculture@gov

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  1. Anonymous says:

    The license for the farmers is no fault of the agriculture department.   All information is sitting in the minister office from last year.  Give the dept a brake they are doing thier best

  2. Anonymous says:

    I recently watched a UCCI Professor on a TV show say that Agriculture is not a viable source for the Cayman Islands -what malarky!!!! We have 2-dimensional thinkers teaching our kids -every hear of hydroponics??? 

  3. Dr. SaySo says:

    Excellent idea, be prepared for the when the country becomes independent. Thats' the only way we will be able to eat!

  4. Al Nomadi says:

    For those interested in growing their own food you may like to look at the following web page, http ://
    Permaculture is an inovative form of agriculture suited to the commercial farmer as well as the home owner.

    For more information contact the Cayman Institute at at

    Nick Robson
    Cayman Institute

  5. Anonymous says:

    …and this comes seconds after Bush went negotiating talks with the Hondurans to import produce & whatever else wasn't mentioned to us *yawn* 

    One peddlin' backwards & the next forward…look like a bunch of fools to me!

  6. Knot S Smart says:

    I have to agree with Ms Julie on this!

    Using whatever space is in one's backyard to grow anything that can be consumed gives the benefit of healthier food, less costly food, and in addition gardening is really stress relieving.

    Even those living in apartments can have a few potted vegetables like peppers, lettuce, tomatoes etc on the terrace or near entrance ways…

  7. Anonymous says:

    Minister O'Connor-Connolly, how about coming up with a solution to rid the country of all the green iguanas that are running wild and destroying our gardens all year long?  It is very discouraging and sooner or later families will give up because we simply cannot afford the time, cost and effort only to have it all eaten by these horrible pests.  

    • Anonymous says:

      One solution would be to eat them.

      With the right trap they're quite easy to catch alive and then prepare at your leisure.

      Lionfish and Greenies would make a great main course along with some home grown veggies.

      I've had Greenies and they are tastey…no joke, give it a try.

      If the trend catches on, then in a few years we'll be complaining that there aren't enough of them.

      • Anonymous says:


        • Anonymous says:

          Just think of them as green four legged chickens without feathers.

          With KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) secret herbs and spices you just might eating them already!


  8. Jungle Juice says:

    Ju Ju been watching too much Doomsday Preppers me thinks!

  9. Anonymous says:

    well, it is nice to grow your own food, if you can afford to buy to soil to plant them in, the regular watering to keep them going, the various fertilizers needed, and the list goes on and one.


    • Nick Robson says:

      There are ways to enhance your soil with compost that you can make yourself, as well as fertilizing without having to purchase commercial products. Google and read up on Permaculture.

  10. Anonymous says:

    "She added that backyard farming is one step in building a local food economy, food security and a more sustainable way of living."


    Not having most of your money wasted by a government who could not give a D**m about the people of thsi Island could also be a more sustainable way of living.




    Etc. Etc.

  11. Annon says:

    Sure….and what about the local farmers that have had famers license applications sitting in the Ag Dept offices for a year, and have gotten no response? If our government is truly supportive of home grown produce, then why is it impossible to get the necessary licenses in order to grow and sell on a mass basis? This country can even grow crops that can be exported, by all means, not on a huge massive scale, but it will still be bringing money into the country, not only saving money. Talk about biting your own tongue off…..

    • Anonymous says:

      I totally agree the Agriculture Dept. is rediculously slow with processing of applications and im sure there is no logical explanation other than laziness in the department. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I can't believe you make farmers get a license. Is there anything you can do without asking for permission? (other than crime)

      • Anonymus says:

        Another freebie is that you can do backyard gardening. The farmer's licence others referred to is, IIRC, for getting the support from DoA that they offer to registered farmers. – Hopefully one of those registered farmers (or DoA) will come on and give more details.

  12. Dare to Dream says:

    I too enjoy growing things in my yard such as limes, mangoes, plantains, bananas, plums , veggies and greens but the biggest problems I have are not  insects and worms but iguanas and chicken.  It is very difficult and disheartening to plant  and never get the opportunity to reap.The chckens are now flying up on the fence erected to keep them out and perching  on the suckers and eating the green plantains and bananas and anything thing else that they cannot reach from the ground. The agricultural department tries to assist with the traps, but the demand is so great they cannot keep up.  Ms. Julie see if you can get some funding so they can buy more traps to assist us with or else all of our labour will be in vain. Don't suggest raising the chickens, I don't have enough land to do that,

    • Anonymous says:

      Repeal the law against BB guns–problem solved.

    • Anonymous says:

      Build yourself a nice big sling-shot!

      • Anonymous says:

        A slingshot is classed as an illegal weapon here, go figger.

        But I think a "dart blowgun" is acceptable, otherwise you'll have to resort to the good old machette.

    • Anonymous says:

      Simple.  For the chickens : build a calavan, cook them and eat them.  Pressure cook them as the wild ones are a little tough but pressured cooked: yum yum.  As for the iguanas, I think someone else said the same thing.

      So now, you don't have to buy any meat.  You can alternate iguana and chicken with fried or boiled plantain. Make a nice dessert or cook with the mangoes and plums and make some lemonade. Check on the Lion fish too.  They are yummy.  I can't vouch for the iguana though.

    • Anonymous says:

      Get a dog, mine loves nothing more than chasing (and catching) chickens and iguana and they soon learn to stay away!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Good Lord, doesn't everyone already know this?

  14. Anonymous says:

    …because, at the rate the UDP are increasing prices around here, very few will be able to afford to buy from the supermarkets.