Tilling soil at 94 - Westmoreland grandma gets joy out of farming

July 21, 2021
Ida Scott removes weeds that are growing among her pineapple plants.
Ida Scott removes weeds that are growing among her pineapple plants.
Ida Scott digs her cassava from the soil on her farm in Belmont, Bluefields, in Westmoreland.
Ida Scott digs her cassava from the soil on her farm in Belmont, Bluefields, in Westmoreland.
Ida Scott shows her cassava plants on her farm in Belmont, Bluefields, in Westmoreland.
Ida Scott shows her cassava plants on her farm in Belmont, Bluefields, in Westmoreland.
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An old soldier in the army is how Ida Scott describes herself. At 94 years old, she is the eldest farmer in her community of Belmont, Bluefields in Westmoreland, and she insists that she has no intentions of retiring any time soon.

Scott, who took up farming in her 50s, cultivates crops such as cassava, pineapple, gungo peas, sweet potatoes and yellow yam. But unlike many retired persons, she does not farm in her backyard. Her plot is located more than a mile from her home, and despite the distance, Scott makes the trek there, on foot, every day.

"When I get up in the mornings, my daughter fix my breakfast, and when I go on the farm, I take two minutes rest, and then put on my working clothes and get to work," the senior citizen told THE STAR.

Prior to taking up farming, the Macalpine district-born Scott was a domestic labourer in her community. She took on agriculture as a way of guaranteeing her own food security as well as ensuring that she is able to avoid fertilised ground produce.

"I first started weeding land, but it was too much for me, so I come to Belmont and did farming. I do not sell in the market, I only do it for fun and health and strength. I am happy when my children come mi can give them some of the goods what me growing," Scott said.

Medical personnel have pointed to tremendous health and therapeutic benefits that senior citizens can get by engaging in activities such as gardening. These are things to which Scott can readily testify.

"I have fun on the farm, especially when I see my crops ready, and I pick them. At my age, mi friends and family are glad about my farming. Like how I have pain all over my body, I cannot sit down because the doctor tells me that I must gwan same way with farming to keep me active," she said.

Scott not only defies age by swinging her machete daily, but she has been daring enough to climb on to the back of motorcycles, doing so without fear. Recalling on occasion that she was walking home from work, the elderly woman said that a young rider offered her a lift and she gladly went for the ride.

"Mi say take time with me when the bike rock one side. He says: 'Hold on to mi waist, young gal Marie, before yuh drop," Scott said laughing healthily.

"That didn't make me afraid, and it was fun for me with arthritis pain," she added.

A mother of 10, Scott said that she is grateful that her children are taking care of her, even as she joked that at least one of them wants her to stay home.

"Mi daughter, Virlyn, will ask mi if me torment, and why mi can't stay home and rest. Sometime I don't even answer her because I like to farm. Sunday is the only day I stay home because I go to church," Scott chuckled.