“You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers"
EcoFarms has been in the Foster and Reid families for three generations. In 1976, Harry and Tina Foster fell in love with a fifty-acre farm in the hills of Balaclava, St. Elizabeth a stone throw from Harry's birthplace. "The Farm" became the passion of Harry, a Mining Engineer and graduate of Jamaica School of Agriculture (JSA) and Tina, a Registered Nurse. Every Saturday, the family would journey down to "Bala" with their three children. After a day of plucking chickens, pruning coffee, or harvesting oranges the children would "drive" the dilapidated Morris Oxford or the handcart belonging to the farm hand.
Over the years, the family has planted coffee, citrus plants, apples, passion fruit, bananas, plantains, coconut and ackee. In the late 1990s, Harry invested in five colonies of Italian bees. Grace, the youngest child and an MIT-trained Engineer, got involved with the beekeeping in 2008. Using her training in Environmental Engineering and Harry's in Agriculture, they have grown the business to establish a thriving bee business with more than 100 colonies spread over seven locations.
The bees are managed in an environmentally sustainable manner. We carefully select remote locations that are far removed from areas where pesticides are used. Depending on the blossoms that our bees feed on we produce varietal honeys. This includes logwood honey from Mile Gully, coffee blossom honey from Balaclava or medicinal honey from Hopeton. In the case of medicinal honey, the bees gather nectar from endemic herbs including cerasee and bitterwood.
In December 2009, the family was involved in the formation of the JSIF-funded Middlesex Beekeepers Group. One of the mandates of this group is to provide opportunities for unemployed youth to start a career in beekeeping. EcoFarms also works closely with New Horizon Christian Outreach Ministry (NHCOM), which is a training centre for young men in the inner city area of Spanish Town.
In 2012, we launched Jamaica’s first mead (honey wine) - Buzz. Using a proprietary process, we blend our varietal honeys with exotic Jamaican fruit such as sorrel, starfruit and otaheite apple. We have several more flavours coming soon.