I was lucky to be given the opportunity to go stay with the Tuckers, a farming family in Chateaubelair. Chateaubelair is located on the Leeward side of the island, the complete opposite end of island and is roughly an hour drive away from Prospect where I am staying. The Tuckers grow a variety of crops and are currently experimenting with tabasco peppers and cocoa to determine whether the yield will be profitable for export. They are the largest pineapple farmers on the island and also raise a litter of around 40 pigs, all crops and livestock which are sold within the local market and shipped over to the Grenadines (after my visit, I actually ran into them at the port while they unloading their truck of pineapples and star fruit to be put on the ferry and sent to a couple of different Grenadine islands.
Mrs. Tucker is a farmer’s counterpart for Eastern Caribbean Trading and Agriculture Development (ECTAD) for that part of the island. The objective the farmer’s counterpart program is to seek out trained farmers in strategic geographical areas and then enable and encourage them to provide support and extension services to other farmers within their clusters. The organization provides stipends and travelling allowances while they work their farms.
During the tourist season(November-April) here, I was told the Tuckers they are unable to produce enough pineapples to sell. As a result they try and time the larger harvests for this time of the year and are able to this through inducing pineapples with a chemical. During the other parts of the year, finding a market for their pineapples can be difficult, and sometimes must resort to selling them for 5$ Eastern Caribbean Dollar for a small pineapple and 10$ for a large. This results in much lower margins profitability then selling by the pound. Generally, they can find a market for their pork, but at times this too can prove to be difficult. As I’ve heard many times before the biggest challenge they run into is finding a market for their produce.
During my time in Chateaubelair I also had the opportunity to climb the active volcano La Soufriere. Little did I know I was in for an adventure of a lifetime. Prior to leaving, I was told that this was the easier side to climb the volcano (although this wasn’t true-the Windwards side through Georgetown is reportedly much easier). I asked if I needed hiking boots and pants to make the climb but was told that my shoes and shorts would be fine. I was expecting to climb a groomed path (located again on the other side) but boy was I wrong. About halfway through the climb, it started to pour rain. I was slipping and sliding all over the place in mud and at some points feared for my life as if the surface would slide out from under me and I’d slip right over the edge! I was going to fall to a certain death. By the end of it, I must have slipped and fell in the mud at least 10 times and my legs were covered in cuts from plants. The way down was especially slippery and at some points I was skiing through some mud(luckily I’m an experienced skier). The climb was beautiful, and I’m glad that I did it. I got to see a large amount of ganja plantations. If you’re interested in the seeing part of the hike I took and plantations check out this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uNKx2sjK2J8 and go to the 25 minute mark.