Human Flower Project

A Legacy of Jamaican Fruits


Ackee and breadfruit send local ecologist Georgia Silvera Seamans up to the Jamaican highlands and three generations back in time. Thank you, Georgia and Yvonne.

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Cacao on the branch in Jamaica; the seeds make cocoa and chocolate.

Photo: Yvonne Silvera

By Georgia Silvera Seamans

I never knew my mother’s maternal grandmother; Beatrice Baxter (“Auntie B”) died before I was born.  My mother’s stories presented a picture of a generous woman, with her love, time, and her home.  Though I was born and raised, until I was 13 years old, in Jamaica, I never saw my great-grandmother’s house.  My mum was raised in “the country” of Clarendon Parish but raised her children in a suburban development in St. Catherine Parish.  Perhaps she thought we could not make the hike up (or hoof it up like the goats) the hill to my grandmother’s house.  (I should ask.)

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View of the Clarendon Hills, Jamaica, homeplace of the author’s great-grandmother

Photo: Yvonne Silvera


Recently, my mother went to Jamaica to visit relatives: her father, sisters, and nieces.  She walked up the hill, to see my great-grandmother’s house.  She took photographs so at last I know what the house looks like though it’s falling apart. 

She also took photographs of the land.  Even in death, my great-grandmother is generous.  One of my mother’s sisters grazes her goat and cow on the land.  She harvests the fruits of the land, too.  Cacao (chocolate), coffee, ackee (of the national dish, Ackee and Saltfish), guava, sugar cane, bananas, and breadfruit. 

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A banana tree growing in the Clarendon Hills, Jamaica

Photo: Yvonne Silvera

My mother hosted a brunch this weekend; Jamaican dishes were plenty.  We ate roasted breadfruit, ackee and saltfish, coconut mackerel, fried plantains, plantain fritters, and yam.  My husband and I returned home with leftovers which we supplemented with other leftovers to make a nice dinner.

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Jamaican guava

Photo: Yvonne Silvera

As I wrote the previous three sentences, I became hungry, and remembered that I have Jamaican-grown guava and sugar cane in the fridge.  Sweet eats!



Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/28 at 10:12 AM

Comments

Is there any indication about how the landscape in Jamaica has changed over the past few decades?  It would be interesting to hear if the government is working to protect the countryside.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/28 at 10:45 AM

Luscious piece, Georgia. Sweet eats, indeed!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/30 at 07:05 AM

very nicely done, georgia, and gorgeous pix, yvonne!
Just ate…but now I’m hungry and fantasizing about ackee!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/02 at 09:33 AM

In response to the question about land conservation in Jamaica: I am not familiar with the situation but a quick web search yielded information about a World Bank project - “Jamaica - Rural Economic Development Initiative Project : environmental assessment and environmental management framework” (http://tinyurl.com/yg55597).

Posted by Georgia on 10/09 at 08:54 AM
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