Over two months since the last blog post…my apologies.
|A happy farmer and her goods|
First order of business, a “big up” to the Westmoreland Organic Farmers Society (WOFS) for putting on a successful 2nd annual Bluefields Organic Expo & Sorrel Festival on December 20. The event is still small by most standards, but there were more participants and attendees than last year. Valuable lessons learned and good times had. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of environmentally friendly farming practices and to celebrate sorrel, a staple of the holiday season. The most common sorrel-based product is juice, but we experimented with fritters, festival, gizzada, cakes, and other delights. A fellow PCV was also involved as a group from her community in nearby Beeston Spring participated.
|Organic Expo & Sorrel Festival|
Now, one of the reasons for my lack of blogging is a sort of superstitious hesitance to talk about projects in the making. I would hate to share about something in the works and then follow up with a blog about how or why something failed. However, yesterday was a great day and definitely something worth talking about.
Over two years ago the PCV who preceded me began supporting the farmers’ effort to register their group with Jamaica’s Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies. He passed the baton to me back in May and on December 7th we finally got the final documents signed, sealed, and delivered to our humble organization here in Bluefields. Of course, with this official status comes new responsibility, one of which was to organize and hold an Inaugural General Meeting (IGM). This meant preparing a financial report, establishing a Nominating Committee, creating an agenda, sending notices, and a few other minor details.
|Drummers & Dancers|
As luck would have it, the IGM was scheduled for February 18 (my birthday). A representative from the Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies attended and fortunately arrived a little early. There were a few minor details we needed to correct before the meeting started, but at the end of the day, we got a "passing grade". A report was shared highlighting the achievements of the group and elections were held. WOFS now has a nine member Committee of Management consisting of five females and four males. My supervisor, Brian, maintained presidency and our secretary and treasurer remained the same as well. We also established an Audit Committee, Investigation Committee, Marketing Committee, and Environmental Committee. At the end of the day, many members took up a new position. Admittedly, it will take a little work from me to help outline the roles and responsibilities and transfer a few skills to some. Yesterday’s event is something that has been years in the making and the feeling of excitement and togetherness was palpable yesterday. (See song sung to open the meeting below)
As I have gotten older and hopefully a little wiser, I’ve come to take great joy in seeing others achieve their goals and being able to say I had a little part in making it happen. As I was about to leave the luncheon after the meeting, I mentioned to Brian that I thought today was a great birthday present. I saw his eyes get big as he realized he had forgotten. Before I knew it I had a room full of people singing the Happy Birthday song with all the flair and gusto Jamaica is known for. I know my flushed cheeks showed through my beard, but fortunately I was able to win the battle against my tear ducts. I have come to love the men and women of the farmers group and have no reservations about shedding blood, sweat, or maybe tears as my service continues. I guess this is why they call it the “toughest job you will ever love.” It took eleven months, but I am starting to understand where that phrase comes from.
|Committee of Management|
|Canoe on the Bay|
|Linnae and I at Rick's Cafe in Negril|