Former inmate turns backyard farming into budding business

Some of the crops Broodie has planted
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By Elesha George

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After 56 months behind bars – and several more unsuccessfully seeking employment – one young Potters man decided to try his hand at backyard gardening.

Heston Broodie, who said he grew up learning how to till the soil, was forced to take it up as a trade after he said he was unable to find work when he got out of prison last year.

“Me go plenty places, where me cya walk, me beg ride and everybody tell me ah we will take your application but things hard, if anything come up me will call you,” he said.

But with the threat of Covid-19, the 30-year-old said he could not sit idle and, encouraged by other farmers and with help from friends, he was able to start his first garden in his girlfriend’s backyard in January.

That small step, he said, gave him the confidence to start several other gardens in his home village.

“The same thing you go supermarket to buy you can grow them in your backyard and you can use them for your own self. So, as me listen to the radio, listen to everybody that ah go farm, I thought me go haffu try em for my own self,” he told Observer.

The former government employee said he gathered as many seedlings as he could and went to the market to buy more vegetables with seeds that he could later plant.

“When me get my first crop me min so excited that me just start do all kind ah subben that me nuh take none picture,” he remarked ecstatically.

Currently, the Potters resident is planting crops to include seasoning pepper, sweet potato, cantaloupe, corn, celery, onion, chive, thyme, tomato and pumpkin.

He said neither he nor his family has sought any loans but has instead put profits made back into the business.

“Ah we nah go to nobody. Everything come out ah we pocket and when ah we go supermarket and ah we get any kind of seed, ah we save them up and plant em – ah so ah we do.”

Broodie is now looking to expand his business with the help of his girlfriend and close family members who will soon venture into local egg production.

His lasting impression is that, “It’s hard work but it pays off in the long run and if you put your mind to it, you can do it!”

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