Food crop farmer, Aaron Baptiste, quote to live by is: “A man with no vision for his future always returns to his past.”
He has been involved in agriculture all of his life and describes himself as “well-rooted and handsomely-blossomed having grown up with my parents, who were heavily engaged in farming and planting as a side business.”
He declared: “Agriculture is my thing! Through helping out at home and later on working for other farmers, I gained a lot of experience and knowledge that allowed me to thrive well, directing me to go into agriculture on my own.
“I have been proudly planting my own crops and raring animals and despite several setbacks along the way, I kept focus on my vision and pressed on as I understand that my role in agriculture, though small, is important.
“While I have other means through which I can earn income, I was always able to rely on agriculture to support my family. When all else couldn’t make ends meet, I was able to fall back on farming in order to provide for my family and pay bills. Food will always sell because people need food to live.”
Baptiste said he is comfortable in his career choice because even if his produce doesn’t sell, his family will always have food to eat.
“My produce has fed my family and others so many times, this is why agriculture is very important to me,” he said.
He said his interest in farming began when he bought and reared chickens as a boy.
He recalled: “I took pride in planting a little bit of lettuce and any little thing I could put my hands on because I always liked to try something new.”
Even when faced with setbacks such as bad weather, crop disease, larceny and low prices, he presses on, convinced that farming is his dream job.
For students who believe they cannot make it in school, Baptiste said agriculture is a way out.
“I attended Curepe Junior Secondary and St Augustine Senior Comprehensive School but unfortunately, I neither completed school nor studied agriculture. During those years, nonetheless, I engaged in agriculture personally in my free time but it did not have any connections with my school life. I attended to my crops on afternoons and weekends.
“The first major crop I planted on my own was cucumber. Along with this, I built a pen to rear ducks. From that first harvest, I started to sell ducks. I was successful, and this motivated me to continue in agriculture,” he said.
“Because of my business structure, I do not have any permanent workers as yet, but I employ two to three daily-paid workers at a time when needed. The workers, who include Venezuelans at times, are not always the same individuals. It depends on who’s available.”
Baptiste, who won a Farmer of the Week ending June 26, said he felt honoured to have met the member of parliament for his area, who toured his garden and commended him.
He said he welcomes field trips to his garden. “The farm and garden provide a safe and secure environment, where people including children, can comfortably visit, investigate, ask questions, discover and learn a lot about agriculture.
“I’m currently working on improving the infrastructure to provide seating, shelter and washroom accommodations, as well as enhancing educational opportunities,” he said.
Baptiste’s crops include: tomatoes, pimentos, melongene and cucumbers and he urges citizens to eat local, eat healthy, live longer.