Farming is not just Jozette Bibby-Bowen’s business, but it is also what she credits for saving her life.
Bibby-Bowen is an ambitious, hard working, assertive, Resilient woman who grew up in Kingstown Park with her mother and siblings. She attended the St. Mary’s R.C school, GHS and Technical College. She holds a degree from Andrews University in Computer Science and also an Associate’s Degree in Business management from said University. Jozette is a Graduate Teacher with the Government of SVG and the mother of 4 children.
According to Jozette, she got into farming to save her life. Farming for her was a ray of light after she had run into trouble with the law and was transferred to a new school where she did not receive adequate stimulation.
‘I got into farming basically to save my life. I was arrested in 2015 and transferred from the school that I was at and sent to the Adult Education department… When I got there I was basically put in a corner doing nothing … It made me sick … It was hard for me not being able to teach or to do any work at all and it took a toll on me … That same year I bought the property where I now reside in Gomea and in order to take my mind off what was happening I started to plant my own food … Just to keep my sanity it ended up being the best thing I ever did …’
Jozette pointed out that she did not start farming with an intention of getting into the business side of it but as a method of maintaining her sanity. The encouragement to turn her coping mechanism into a business came from a friend of hers who she would share her produce with.
She noted that there have been numerous challenges along the way, saying that if she did not have the commitment to her field that she has, it would not have worked out at all.
‘The challenges have been many .. I tell people all the time don’t get into farming if You’re not committed to it because it’s not for the weak… I’ve had to deal with crops being destroyed by animals, rain , and most recently a landslide took out a fowl pen. It’s difficult out here as a farmer because you’re not getting the support that you should from the MOA. I’m an organic farmer and to bring in a weed eater to assist with clearing you can’t even get it duty free. So there’s nothing in place to help farmers like myself who want to bring in specialised farming equipment’
Jozette said she would not change a thing about her time in the farming business so far, as everything she has experienced has been valuable. Noting that even things that were accidents worked out in her favour.
She then shared with us some of the aspects of running her farming business that have stood out as highlights to her.
‘Anyone around you would tell you … I love farming… I love sitting with my pigs and talking… Farming relaxes me… I love interacting with my customers.. obviously I love the extra income …the freedom of feeding myself.. I hardly go to the supermarket I eat whatever I grow’
Jozette considers her time in the farming business to be success since it has afforded her the opportunity to offer organic produce to her customers. That, and her good health, according to her, are enough to call it a huge success.
‘How do you measure success… For some it’s the money on their account… For me I’m healthy and the joys of offering organic produce to my customers and hearing their reviews is success in itself for me… When your customers messaging to find when next you’re offering pork because they don’t want from anyone else … For me that’s being successful’
Jozette says that a good entrepreneur must be flexible and dynamic and resilient. She cautioned that things may not always work out the way you plan then but it is important to stand your ground and keeping moving forward when that happens.
In our interview with Jozette, we asked her what advice she would give to anyone thinking of starting a business of their own, she had this to say.
‘Start your business… Don’t wait until the conditions are perfect because you might never start … I personally believe everyone should be planting something… That’s my mantra on my Facebook page.. plant something…’
And it is ‘planting something’ that led her to start selling her produce in 2016 and to eventually officially register her business in 2018.
Gour-met Farms is located in Gomea. They sell Eggs, whole Chicken, Pork and Organic Vegetables. They have recently started offering bacon to their customers on a small scale and will be offering Ham from next year.
You can access their products by calling them via WhatsApp on 531-0448 or you can access their Facebook page at Gour-met Farms.