Sun, Sea, Sand and Self-Sufficient Food Production

Thursday 29th, September 2011 / 16:25 Published by

First impressions tend to color how one perceives just about everything. Sailing into shallow Bahamian waters for the first time, the last thing I thought about was agriculture. All I saw was clear aqua waters and brilliant green palms. But there is much more to see at second glance.

As summer comes to a close, making way for fall, I can’t help but feel a loss as I see the gardens of summer turning brown. Plants are getting leggy and lethargic as the autumnal air becomes cooler at night. As gardening season wanes here in the Northeast, it is beginning to pick up way south.

The growing season in the Bahamas is longer. Some crops grow all year long. Just about anywhere onions, bananas and even tomatoes can be purchased if one knows where to look. When in Georgetown, Great Exuma I purchase fresh bananas, field grown tomatoes, and onions from a smiling, crinkle-eyed elderly gent who brings his battered pickup truck to town to sell his wares. Down the street the peanut guy roasts fresh peanuts for a dollar a bag. I’m not sure if it is the peanuts or the smell of them roasting that I like best.

Agriculture in the Bahamas centers on four areas that include crops, poultry, livestock and even dairy. Winter vegetables and citrus farms make up the mainstay of the agricultural bounty. Much of this is concentrated in the Abacos with large citrus farms also found on Andros. Grapefruit, orange, mangoes, limes, papaya, pineapples, avocados, okra, tomatoes and onions supply the island chain as well as exported.

More than 5,000 acres of agricultural land in the Bahamas are used for citrus production. The island chain also produces more than 14 million pounds of poultry meat annually. According to the Bahamian department of agriculture, egg production was estimated at 4.15 million dozen eggs and agricultural exports were an estimated 18,794 tons. In addition to citrus fruits, exports include honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon and squash.

(Sharron Sparks Boyle and her husband, Ed, transitioned from a house to a boat in 2009. They will continue to live aboard Imagine, a 42-foot Passport Sloop. )

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