"Hey Crusty," calls Byron to my dad as our family walks up out to meet him. Byron is a Jamaican farmer who lives down the road from us. He calls my dad, Rusty, "Crusty" as a pet-name (nickname). We are heading to his farm to buy cassava, which is kind of like a potato. That night Channakay will teach us how to make bammy, a fluffy pancake, with Jamaica’s number one carbohydrate. Around the world many eat tapioca made from cassava.
We walk down the road and follow him up a well-worn path to a savannah- like plain. The mountains rise before us and the hot sun's rays burn our shoulders. When we make it to his farm, it doesn't look very spectacular. Rows of small trees no higher than your head with green and purple compound leaves are planted in rows of raised beds.
Byron explains that these are cassava plants. He walks over and yanks one up exposing the potato-like tubers connected to the central stem. With his machete, he chops them off and hands them to my mom. My dad asks where he got his seeds, but Byron only chuckles. He takes the cassava stem and cuts off a three foot stick from the trunk. He then sticks it in the ground. He looks at us and says that it will grow into a new plant. Perennial yams, sweet potatoes, and pineapples grow productively. My mom hands him a pineapple top she had bought earlier to help continue his sustainable cycle.
We are amazed at how sustainable his growing techniques are. He never has to buy seeds and he never uses imported, petroleum-based fertilizer. He proudly states that he does not spray his plants and when he sells his crop there is no need for extra packaging. He knows how to sustainably grow and harvest food so his customers are knowledgeable about their sustenance.