Agriculture is the science or art involved in the growing of crops and rearing of animals for human needs.
Agriculture also encompasses fishing and hunting. Agriculture plays an important role in sustaining livelihoods in St. Mark’s Grenada.
Fruits and vegetables can be purchased almost every day in local shops, supermarkets and at the farmers’ market which is located conveniently next to the Victoria Fish Market. Thursday is the official market day in St. Mark’s, when you will find a wide array of fruits, vegetables and herbs on sale in the farmers market. On other days you may also find vendors selling produce; however, the variety may be more limited. You will also find mobile vendors throughout the villages selling produce.
Growing of crops is carried out in the mountains of St. Mark’s as well as in the gardens around family homes in St. Mark’s. Traditional crops such as nutmeg and cocoa are grown in the mountain regions, whilst ‘short crops’ are grown closer to home.
There are also many seasonal fruits which you can find in St. Mark’s during their season. Many varieties of mango can be found in St. Mark’s, which, at times produce in such abundance that much goes to spoil. Other seasonal fruits found in St. Mark’s including golden apples, French cashews, soursop, sugar apples, mami apple, and different varieties of citrus.
There are two nutmeg receiving stations in St. Mark’s, one is located in Samaritan and the other in Victoria. Following the destruction caused by hurricane Ivan in 2004, St. Mark’s was able to keep the nutmeg trade in Grenada going. A nutmeg plantation located in Belmont was left unscathed and was able to continue providing the Grenada Cooperative Nutmeg Association (GCNA) – the main purchaser of nutmegs in Grenada – with nutmegs, while other farmers elsewhere on the island were replanting.
The Diamond Chocolate Factory is the main purchaser of cocoa in St. Mark’s. A new addition is the Crayfish Bay Organic Chocolate Factory.
St. Mark’s has very fertile soil, as a result of historic volcanic activity. St. Mark’s is also among the most resilient in Grenada for water supply, due to the many rivers and fresh water springs in the parish. An area called Mt. Stanhope in St. Mark’s is said to be of the most fertile region in Grenada. In the past, it held records for the largest fruits and vegetables, and also claimed the accolade of being the area requiring the ‘smallest quantity of nutmegs to meet a pound in weight’.
The coveted award of ‘Farmer of The Year’ has been won in recent times by Stephen Williams a resident of St. Mark’s. The late PG Hosten, who was the owner of the Bocage estate is revered as one of the most financially successful farmers in Grenada, going on to open the first shopping complex in Grenada and was a founder of the Co-operate Bank, which is still functioning today. Mayfair Wellington, who was the owner of the Belmont Estate is another well known farmer in Grenada in recent times. Mayfair is also known for being a pioneer of the private transport system, owning a number of wooden buses transporting locals around Grenada. He is also remembered for shipping produce directly to the royal family of Great Britain. The name ‘Uncle Mark’, who was the owner of the Belair estate is another very popular name in the farming circle, as being one of the largest producer of nutmeg on the island.
In modern times, certain factors have been adversely affecting the overall production of crops in St. Mark’s. These include climate change and the loss of interest in agriculture by the younger generation. Both these issues are encountered globally.
In St. Mark’s livestock such as cows, goats and sheep are reared mostly for meat. However, there are farmers who rear goats for milk, this include Mr Albert J. Forsythe who is a former principal of the Bonair Government School. There are commercial chicken farms rearing chickens for meat and eggs, but you will also find individuals keeping chickens around their houses for home use.
Hunting is also done in St. Mark’s during the hunting season. Traditionally hunters use trained dogs to catch manicou (opossum), tatoo (armadillo), monkey, iguana and ramia in the mountains of St. Mark’s. These are local delicacies and are often frozen so that they can be available after the hunting season is closed. The Ministry of Agriculture in Grenada is responsible for issuing public notices whenever the hunting season is opened or closed.
The main fishing villages in St. Mark’s include River Sallee, Waltham, Duquense, ‘Davvy’ and the town, Victoria. Fishermen cast nets to catch jacks, robin and occasionally larger fish, throughout the day in bays in St. Mark’s. Villagers would gather at the shore and aid in pulling the net ashore. This can be considered a tradition in St. Mark’s.
There is an ‘ocean season’, where small fishing crafts venture miles from the shore in search of prized tuna, mahi mahi, king fish, marlin and ocean gar. During the off season, fishermen spend time fishing on banks for snapper, ‘couvali’ or ‘common tor’. It is also known of fishermen in St. Mark’s to venture north of Grenada, to the smaller islands around Carriacou to catch reef fish.
You will also find divers visiting the reefs of St. Mark’s to catch fish and lobsters. Fishing is also done in the rivers of St. Mark’s, where crayfish and mullets are caught. There is a close season for catching lobster and crayfish in Grenada.
Fish is sold at the fish markets. There are three fish markets in St. Mark’s. There are located at Victoria, Waltham and Duquense. You can also find vendors in vehicles going through the villages selling fish. The sound of the conch shell usually signals the availability of fish for sale.
St. Mark’s is known for having remarkable fishermen, with the likes of the late Oswald Clovey, and the late St. John Lewis.