After leaving university, I was excited to venture into island entrepreneurship. I got to wondering… what did I have that I could possibly sell and gain a profit from?
For inspiration, I looked to the colours of the national flag of Jamaica: black, green, and gold. I was hoping for a clue because I did not want to contribute to brain drain; nation-building seemed more stellar.
I focused on the black colour in the flag which represents the strength and creativity of the Jamaican people. But how creative would I need to be? I looked at the gold colour in the flag which represents the wealth of the country, but more so the natural beauty of the sunlight. Lastly, I contemplated the green which represents the lush vegetation and agricultural resources – such hope.
Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, and foreigners wishing to live in Jamaica, my epiphany came without much effort when I realized that my neighbour’s yard had become a great land of fever-grass (also known as lemongrass) which grew so tall without any human interference or maintenance. It hit me – low production cost.
I didn´t know why the lemongrass was not growing in my yard, but my vision was amazing. I wouldn’t have to till the soil, or get burnt in the sun; the fever-grass only needed a means of transportation to affect profit.
Therefore, I called the Scientific Research Council of Jamaica, informing them that I, Davia Ellis, am a lemongrass provider/farmer. I felt so proud of myself; buyers of lemongrass could make beverages, candles, body wash, lotion, and shampoos and conditioners. This beautiful plant with its long leaves that are similar to those of seagrass would save me.
Before I knew it, barely finished with my own cup of homegrown lemongrass tea, I received a call the following morning from a buyer in the south-central part of the island who wanted to know my price on the lemongrass.
My price? I wasn’t ready for this.
First of all, I had not yet informed my neighbour, a busy seamstress and government worker, that I would be “helping” her to get rid of the overgrown lemongrass. Second, and perhaps my biggest challenge, was that I had no clue how to price lemongrass.
I tried my best to get the buyer to tell me what he would like to pay for the lemongrass, but he was adamant that I declare my price – something I couldn’t seem to produce. I couldn’t believe it. What Jamaican wouldn’t want to set their own price?
And so, my lemongrass venture came to a screeching halt. I’ve decided to look at it as an experiment – I was merely testing the waters, or “trying a ting.”
I know I will eventually create a natural product which will help boost people’s health. I’m just in the inspiration-gathering stage.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to drink my free, homegrown lemongrass tea while basking in its aromatherapeutic scent which relieves anxiety, bloating, and pain.
May our food and drink be our medicine, and our medicine our food and drink.