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Jamaica ~ Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow

When you think of Jamaica, what comes to mind?  Beaches, Vacations, Paradise, Rastafarian beliefs, and of Course Blue Mountain Coffee. There are several things that make Jamaica what we are today, and I wanted to use this week’s Blog to share some history, contemporary pieces and future hopes. No worries friends there will be no quiz at the end, this is not your old history class, just some things you may find interesting as you read on…

         The third largest Isle in the Caribbean was first stumbled upon by Good ol’ Chris Columbus on his second voyage in May 1494, and since the first trip was so much fun he went back and stayed for a year between 1503-04 on his fourth voyage. The books say he was stranded, but come on folks, we know what he was doing for that  year! Chris broke camp and soon after the Spanish followed in 1509 defending against privateer attacks and calling Spanish Town the  Capital around 1534. The English came along and conquered the island in 1655 but did not fully gain control from The Spanish until1670.

          If you have seen Pirates of the Caribbean, you know that the English settlement of Port Royal was a port of call for several Pirate legends until an earthquake destroyed the city in 1692. Most of the folks then settled across the bay in Kingston which became the largest city and also the capital from 1716 until 1872. It was during this time until the early 19th century that sugar cane became a chief export for Jamaica and with that growth came the African slave labor to plant and harvest this economic endeavor.

         Although there was growth, it was not without cost. The racial tension was escalating as Jamaica had the most counts of slavery uprisings of all the Caribbean Islands until the abolition of slavery in 1834. It was then Jamaicans began the long road toward independence which was finally reached 128 years later in 1962. There are still several instances of civil unrest and turmoils as nearly 20,000 Jamaicans emigrate to The US every year. That is the part no one thinks about when they hear Jamaica. Sad but true, facts none the less as Jamaica’s economy is beginning to rebuild and rebound.

         Hopes for increased tourism and economic growth, all thoughts hold positive tones. As Farmers, we are held close to the day to day courses on the island and try to make things better one day at a time. Dr Reggie Chung Loy, Native Jamaican Farmer and  Chief Surgeon at JFK Hospital in Edison NJ, gives back to those who give us so much. Through Operation Give Back, we use a percentage of profits from Reggie’s Roast to aid and educate the people who help us bring your this rare gem that we are fortunate enough to enjoy. Over the years we have worked with some 500 coffee farmers and their families offering free medical examinations and treatment at  health fairs held at the Cedar Valley Baptist Church in St. Thomas, Jamaica.  The examinations were carried out by a team of Jamaican doctors based in the United States.

         We have also worked  in conjunction with Air Jamaica and participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Jamaica. Working with local surgeons, several breast cancer survivors have had reconstructive surgery completed at a Kingston hospital. Materials, including breast implants were provided by Reggie’s Roast Operation Give Back. And on his trips to the farms during planting and harvest, it is usual to see the Doc bringing supplies home to Jamaica.

       With our chief industries including Tourism and Bauxite (the chief commercial ore of Aluminum) and our agricultural efforts including Sugar, Rum, and a bit of Coffee; we work closely with our trading partners in the US, UK, Europe and Japan to bring  a better tomorrow for our families, friends & colleagues, and those who are less fortunate. I am lucky to be in a position where what I do goes to seeing that come to life.

Cheers to Jamaica’s Tomorrow! ~ Reggie