North Caicos Leads The Way In Local Food Production

Turks & Caicos Weekly News • Sun, Mar 02, 2014

MAKING the Turks and Caicos Islands food secure, providing gainful employment and a useful skill for interested youths are just some of the things North Caicos farmer, Courtney Missick is hoping to do with the opening of his new farm.
Last Saturday (February 22) the Issac Organic Farm was commissioned in North Caicos at a ceremony that saw Government officials, the Opposition, business and hotel industries, the clergy, Missick’s mother, relatives and scores of North Caicos residents in attendance.
The Minorca Hill location on Whitby Road is a 10 acre spread and is named in honour of Missick’s late father.
When the operation gets up and running it will be producing eggs from chickens hatched and raised at Missick’s other farm in Kew, as well as fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.
Missick said he hopes to have the operation up and running by August, and that he is currently awaiting final approval from the Planning Department as well as additional financing.
One of Missick’s major financial backers is Canadian, Steve Posthumus. The Posthumus family has been in the agriculture business for over 50 years and currently operates an agricultural company in Leamington, Ontario.
Meanwhile Beaches TCI – another significant supporter – is supplying the materials for the chicken pens.
Beaches, which already buys peppers from the Kew farm, will be supplied with eggs when the new operation gets off the ground.
“The chicken house would take about three months the most to get up and running, so round about in August we should have it up and the same time while we’re working on the chicken houses we will be running the irrigation and putting in the trees for the fruit.”
He said there are about three acres of the land that are already ploughed and waiting to be weeded and cleared in order to have the trees planted. Arrangements have already been put in place for the supply of fresh water on the land.
SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY
As to what this means for North Caicos, Missisk sees it as a means of providing cheaper food and gainful employment for many young men.
“It is a chance for them to learn something; not only in North but in Middle as well. I’ll be able to educate them and they would be able to lease land from Government and start something.”
The North Caicos farmer is also keen on assisting anyone who is willing to start up his or her own backyard garden.
He has made a commitment to provide seeds (at an affordable price), knowledge and other assistance to anyone. He has also promised to deliver the seeds to interested persons.
As for the method to be used for growing produce on the farm, Missick said the manure from the chicken would be used to fertilise the farm to cut down on the use of synthetic fertiliser.
His intention with this venture is to feed the Turks and Caicos Islands. He can be reached at (649) 242-2290 or 341-1094 or email [email protected].
Steve Posthumus told the gathering that he is excited to join in Missick’s venture. He said too that he and his wife have decided to make the TCI their permanent home.
“Our family at the present time operates an agricultural company located in the GreenHouse capital of Canada – Leamington, Ontario. It’s a family run agricultural waste recycling company.”
Posthumus said over the last few years of coming to the TCI, the family still sees an opportunity which has instilled in them a desire to get involved with the people who see agriculture and its related industry as a must for the country.
However, he said a paradigm shift is needed in the agriculture industry and that working together is integral.
“The potential here in TCI… is unbelievable folks; the potential here is unbelievable. Others have seen it and voiced it many times and then people get in the way…
“We can and we must bring in modern technology to surpass the norm and not go against change which is good, to see a successful industry. And if there are stumbling blocks, remove them.”
He said the country must do its best to provide as much locally grown products of all kinds that it can, as it lessens the risk of dependence on others and sets a plan for the future.
Posthumus also voiced his family’s firm commitment to supporting all local farmers. He added that stepping stones for growth in the industry need to be provided for the youth.
Public relations manager for Beaches and the Sandals Foundation, Elanor Finfin Krzanowski delivered remarks on behalf of the managing director Donald Dagenais.
She said the resort is proud to attach its brand to the initiative.
The resort caters to more than 3,000 in any given week and over 98 per cent of the food products offered at the hotel are imported, Krzanowski said.
“If we have local farmers investing and producing food for us to supply to our guests imagine how profitable that would be. So this is a stepping stone; it may be a baby step but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.”
She informed the gathering that not only has Beaches committed to purchasing the products produced at the farm, but that they will also be turning one of their restaurants into an organic restaurant. This was met with rousing applause.
Meanwhile, a representative from IGA supermarkets – which Missick currently supplies – also offered their congratulations and promised their continued their support.
Minister of Agriculture, Amanda Missick was among the many officials who came out to support and congratulate Missick.
She recalled his tenacity and passion for farming and added that his current venture would prove to be beneficial to the entire TCI.
“I want to encourage the residents of North Caicos to patronise Mr Missick’s business. As a Government, we pledge to support our local farmers; we are seeking to develop and introduce the local farm here in North Caicos as a research unit so that we can be of help to the local farmers.”
Leader of the Opposition, Sharlene Cartwright Robinson also delivered congratulations to Missick and the Posthumus family.
“One thing we can say about Reverend Courtney Missick is that he is certainly consistent and committed to the cause of showing what can be done and what should be done in the area of agriculture for the Turks and Caicos Islands.”
She said the PDM would support all initiatives to advance agriculture, as the party believes farming is critical to a growing nation.
She wants serious steps to be taken to move the TCI away from the unenviable position of having to import more than 90 per cent of its food items.
“We trust this year that we will see the long awaited Director of Agriculture, a final policy which remains in draft and certainly a piece of legislation that will move this industry forward,” Cartwright Robinson said.

PDM Chairman, Clarence Selver – in her absence – read Governor appointed member in the House of Assembly, Lillian Misick’s message.

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