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Tuesday, 30 November, 2021
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From the backyard to the kitchen: Former teacher channels love for cooking and health into agri product company

By Carlena Knight

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For Miriam Samuel, her golden years are not just for rest, relaxation and reflection; they’re also a time for her to become innovative.

The retired teacher has always been known for her creative drive, but has taken her hobby and love for baking and turned it into a full-blown business called Screw Pine Company, which offers over 40 local agri-products such as cassava bread, dumbs and potato wine, stinging nettle oil, turmeric soaps, farine, golden apple cheese and jams, basil tea bags, avocado soap, sweet potato flour and even ‘carrot dogs’.

“I actually started making coconut bread at first, way back when, and sometimes I would make that and other wines and give them as gifts to some of my friends and family members, but after retiring a few years back I really decided to make into a full enterprise and now here I am with all my products,” Samuel explained.

She revealed that in the earlier days she would sell some of her cakes at supermarkets like Cornwall Enterprise and it was there that a buzz started for her products.

“I would bring a few for him to sell and then after a while he called me and told me that I needed to make even more because they were selling quick and then more and more people knew about my products. I really do appreciate all what he did for me,” she said.

Despite being in her 80s, this mother-of-five has never let her age slow her down. She revealed that there are times when inspiration for new ideas comes even during sleep.

“I would be sleeping sometimes and then an idea just pops up. The next morning, I am in the kitchen bright and early after doing a bit of research, of course, and the products just come to life. Once something interests me, I will try to make something from it. Sometimes I don’t get it right at first but I try and try again until I get it right,” she explained.

She recalled that if she wasn’t in the front of a classroom at one of the nine schools where she previously taught, or in the living room making some crochet items with her children and grandchildren, she could be found in the bakery developing new recipes.

“For some of my items like the bread and so on, I would have gotten some information for the recipe from my friends in Guyana and Jamaica and then I would try it and put my own twist on it. Most of the things I make I either learned from a friend or I would research a few recipes and then add my own flair to it,” she added.

One would think that with a successful healthy business like this, the entrepreneur or “seniorpreneur” as her children refer to her, would keep her greatest secrets to herself, but her deep Christian values and her first passion, teaching, has seen her host sessions with friends and other interested folk showing them how some of her signature products are made.

In fact, just before the Covid-19 pandemic, Samuel had been inviting persons to her home in Paradise View for tutorials.

“You know, I am not worried if they branch out and do their own businesses. I remember one of my friends had asked why I was even revealing my recipes to others because they turn out to be my competition, but I believe that things like these should be passed down from generation to generation. Plus, nothing beats the original,” she joked.

“I mean especially now with the pandemic, you can see that the healthy route is the best thing and now that prices are increasing on some products in the supermarket, why wouldn’t I want to teach others how they can use items in their backyard or from the local market in their everyday life?” she asked.

When asked what she would like to be remembered for, the ever humble and elegant Samuel replied that she would just like to be an inspiration for not only her family, but the community.

It is because of that ideology why the Swetes native is encouraging others to “chase their dreams”.

“If you have a dream, just follow it and don’t be afraid to share,” she suggested.

The seniorpreneur mentioned that she has big plans for the future and even hinted of a few new products making their way into her catalogue for the Christmas holidays.

Interested persons can call 461-1865 or 786-1865 to inquire about any of the products.

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