Community member profile, Austin Mighty


This is part of the #Bloggingabroad blog challenge.

http://bloggingabroad.org/blog-challenge
http://bloggingabroad.org/blog-challenge

Yup that truly is his name!  You know every once in awhile you find someone you realize is truly connected to the Earth, this is one such man.  He farms, not for money but for the love of the land.  These are the people who have found peace and happiness in their lives.  I am super excited that in just the last month he is finally hooked up to the water system and has access to water direct from the pipe.  (This is courtesy of the hard work of the Three Hills Farmers’ Association)

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Mr. Mighty was born and grown to age 14 in Golden Grove, St. Catherine.  His family was a farm family.  He has many fond memories of never having an empty belly due to the family farm.  In his young years many of the local people had cows and dairy milk was always around.  They all carried their milk to one location to fill the truck when it came.  Each family was compensated for the amount of milk they contributed.  This is a very cooperative way of doing things and he sees this ideology lost in the farmers in this area.  Sometimes the truck would not come so instead of wasting off the milk the community had installed a butter churn and everyone dumps their milk into the churn and the children worked to churn the milk into butter.  Mr. Mighty loved those days as it meant they would have yummy butter to put on their bread, a common meal and fond memory.  Sometimes they would have butter and bread with a nice slice of tomato.  (You know you have hit a fond memory by the look in a person’s eyes as they tell the story.  They look sharp and shiny but unfocused as though they are seeing something you cannot. These are the moments a storyteller seeks!)

He went to school but that did not last long as he got licked (hit) in the head with a rock at a young age.  It caused issues with school attendance.  At the age of 14 the family moved to Linstead, St. Catherine.  He grew to be a man there and found a trade in masonry.  He was what they call a practical mason.  He worked with much knowledge and a little theory.  He got to a point where he could read a plan as well.

At age 20 he moved to town to work.  He married and became a family man at this point as well.  He stayed in town until 1975 when violence was rising and he had 4 children to care for.  From 1970 on there was more and more violence and less and less love and neighborly feelings.  This was the time that political uprisings were becoming more and more common.  As he said, “The love around us started to disappear.”  In 1975 he moved back to Linstead because he could not take the violence any longer.  They rented and kept the family as close as possible.  In 1978 his last child was born, and they decided they needed their own place.  He looked to farming to help feed the family.  They found a little land and built a home.  Sometime later his wife got diabetes and fell very ill.  Life was hard and it was a struggle to send the kids to school.  There was also a decrease in work available in town.  In 1980 there was a revolution in town and guns were prevalent and many people were dead.  This conflict caused struggles throughout the island.

He managed to get all the kids through school and in 1995 his wife passed on.  He left for the North Coast after the wife died as all the kids were grown now.  He found a little work on the North Coast.  He eventually remarried.  At some point he found that the contractors that hired him paid unfairly.  They often do not pay the right amount and when you hire a sub-contractor or labor you are responsible to pay them first.  This caused more money issues.

He remember back to his roots and that his belly always full when his father farmed.  He decided he wanted to return “back to the good old days”.  He had a plot of land near St. Ann’s Bay.  The problem with this was the difficulty of getting the produce off the land to the market.  He heard about the Emancipation Land Program, a political mandate to release lands to the people for farming and homesteading.  The idea was to create some stability for the people already captured on the land.  Making the homesteads legitimate would hopefully create a  stability to the people here.  (This is how I understand the idea, from what I was told.  This program is why the Farm Association here was formed. Click the link up there to learn more about how this program works)  He found a plot and wanted to focus on home and family and avoid dishonest contractors.  Sadly his wife wanted no part of going back to the land.  She stayed in Steer Town, St. Ann.  Mr. Mighty put it this way, “Love start to disappear cause money short!”

He has lived in a little board house with no running water for a few years now.  He is registered with the Three Hills Farmers’ Association, RADA and JAS.  He is still hopeful that he will one day get legal tenure of the land but he is a legal tenant and now has water. He is currently beginning construction on a block home as he feels more confident in his status on the land now.  He does miss the idea of cooperation where farmers would help each other out instead of compete against each other.  In his childhood he remembers excess harvest given to the infirm and the widows to help out.  Sharing and cooperation are missing in the modern world, but to give is to receive blessings.

He has been sick for the last 6 years with arthritis in his foot and glaucoma in his eye.  He says “the pressure is on, but I am determined to fight until the end of my time”.  He has many small plots of land even though his health is a struggle he grows what he eats and eats what he grows, as it should be.

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