Norma Rhule’s quest for independence led her on the unlikely path of farming. She has always toyed with the idea of owning her own business, but rather than venture into what she described as the predictable and saturated market of selling clothes or cosmetics, she trotted on this path not taken by a lot of women.
She told BUZZ that she heard “good things” about the sector and set out to do her own research. Two years, and four acres of scotch bonnet peppers later, the hat of a farmer is one that this 30-year-old woman wears proudly.
“If someone was to ask right now, what job I do? It’s like I’m quick to say I’m a farmer; to plant a seed and watch it grow till it starts to produce, it’s the best feeling,” she said.
Adding that she also works as a tour guide at the Dolphin Cove in Ocho Rios.
But the success that she now enjoys was not without its challenges. She explained that she was confused as to what to plant at first, and started off planting pumpkin and corn. However, the market for those crops was not readily available and she suffered a loss.
“To plant a seed and watch it grow till it starts to produce, it’s the best feeling.”— Norma Rhule
After consulting with more experienced farmers, she decided on scotch bonnet peppers, and as she tells it, that’s the best decision she has ever made.
“The only time I’m affected is mainly by the drought which is happening now. But the plants, they have just slowed down. So what will happen, whenever we get some good shower, the plants normally pick up back, that’s the good thing about pepper, its that they’re hard to die,” she said.
And in addition to the resilience of this particular crop, Rhule also shared that she has a ready market for them.
“I sell directly to the factory that’s five minutes away from me. So I know that at the end of the day, whatever amount that I plant the factory is there to take it, I don’t have to be running all over the place to get market,” she said.
And when it comes to the complete operation on her farm, Rhule is not afraid to get her hands dirty either.
“If mi no learn how to do it, mi can call a man to come on my farm eno, and him a do foolishness, and mi nah go know seh a foolishness, so mi have to know everything, so mi can point out she you’re not doing this right. At the end of the day mi a spent my money, and with most persons because them know you’re female they tend to take advantage of you, tell you all kind of something,” she said.
Rhule also hires two permanent employees on her farm in Moneague, St Ann.
Admitting that her venture so far has been very profitable, the single mother of two boys said she is looking to expand her business to create a nursery and sell plants to other farmers.
Ultimately, the Constant Garden native is happy that she accomplished her goal of being an independent woman.
“Mi just did determine seh mi need something to make me independent, something that I know it’s me, I don’t have to depend on anybody,” she said.