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Great yields come from farming on the Bluff

Published on Friday, March 5, 2010 Email To Friend    Print Version

Martin Burey, who will visit the Sister Islands Annual Agriculture Show for the first time, will display some of his tomatoes during the event.

Many residents of Cayman Brac would be surprised by the wide variety of fruits and vegetables that grow on the Bluff, where Farmer Bernard Burey works. Mr Burey, better known as Martin, has turned a rocky lot on the Bluff into an amazingly fruitful vegetable farm, which stretches over almost three acres of land.

“I like it here on Cayman Brac,” says the father of four. “The people are nice and friendly and I won´t have to worry about crime.” Martin works hard; everyday he starts at 6am, and the daily maintenance of his plants keeps him busy until the late afternoon.

“There is more work to do than one might think,” he says, “but the hard work pays off once I see how much fresh produce I can harvest.” The “secrets” to his success to farming on the Bluff is the soil, he says, which is called Terra Rossa or Red Mold, excellent soil and rich, but a farmer also must know the right time to plant certain vegetables. Another secret is when and how to water the plants. “Many people make the mistake to water plentiful and directly onto the plant,” he says. “This can hurt or kill certain plants, especially if you use well water, just like I do. Instead of sprinkling directly onto the plants, my method is to bring the water to the ground, to soak the soil around them.” He says to water the crops every other day, which is enough, though he does not mind some rain to help him with the task. “I always hope for rain, it is the best weather for a farmer like me,” he adds, with a grin.

Since not everyone is an expert farmer, like Martin, when it comes to growing fruits and vegetables, he recommends some easy- to-maintain veggies for the typical backyard garden:

“You don´t need a green thumb for vegetables in your garden,” Martin says. “Peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes are some good examples for low maintenance plants that will grow almost everywhere, they can even be planted in pots if there is not much space.” “In a bigger backyard, you could also grow pumpkins, melons and potatoes with little effort.”

Although Martin prefers to plant directly into the ground, he admits that many vegetables grow surprisingly well in pots – if it is done right. “When you want to grow in pots, you will need to water your plants more often and you have to be very careful when you use fertilizers.”

Fertilizers can be “aggressive” to plants and will burn the roots if used too much or too close to the plant. “Less is more when it comes to fertilizers,” he adds. “If you decide to use it, you should always apply it around the plant, never directly onto it.”

Martin´s local grown fruits and vegetables include melons, pumpkins, papayas, mangoes, Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam, cassava, plantains, Scotch Bonnet peppers, sweet peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage and lettuce, and a few more.

Some of Martin’s locally grown vegetables are available for sale in Kirkconnell´s produce aisle, and Martin would be more than happy to supply more markets on the island with his fresh produce.

“Of course, the people are also welcome to stop by the farm to have a look at where their produce comes from or to pick up some fresh vegetables,” he says, “but because I am always busy on this big piece of land, they will have to find me first!”

– Simone Tatum
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