A few weeks back we decided to go on an adventure. A friend was visiting and she wanted to go to Darliston in search of the Wet Sugar Factory. We never found it but below is information from the Gleaner regarding one of the factories and the process.
Sugar production sweet business
Published: Sunday | February 22, 2009| The Gleaner
Zepaniah Brown (left) checks the quality of the sugar-cane juice as Clarence Clarke gets the sugar cane ready to be fed into the mill. - photos by Ian Allen/Staff Photographer
IN THE easy-going rural village in Westmoreland called Lundie, one man, a few of his neighbours and a trusty, old horse name Star Boy are in productive mode.
It is near mid-day and Star Boy has been working all morning, turning the rather crude mill that crushes the sugar cane, to extract the juice from which dark, brown sugar is made.
Zephaniah Brown owns this operation. It is an investment with twin objectives. He earns enough to care for himself and hire a few hands, while indulging in a long-time hobby.
"Sugar is something mi know about. Mi love it. Yes man!" he says with a smile.
Brown and his workers seem not to be too troubled by the growing economic turmoil and the spate of redundancies taking place. They have demonstrated that their project is viable.
The retired 83-year-old Brown is maintaining a tradition and his mode of production is reminiscent of the plantation era when sugar-cane production was done manually.
At the centre of Brown's operation is Lincoln Segree who first beats the sugar cane with a hammer-like implement before feeding it to the mill. Round and round the mill, Star Boy pulls the lever that grinds the cane, and the juice is reluctantly fed into a keg or barrel below.
To increase the power and speed, Segree merely shouts at Star Boy and the old, tired horse trots along the circular path.
The sweet juice with a taste of ginger is sold and, says Brown, "makes a refreshing thirst quencher" or is boiled down to produce wet sugar.
According to Brown, he is much better off doing this than waiting on an uncertain sugar-cane market. With an investment of $500,000, he insists he can break even and make a "good profit" in no time.
The process of making the sugar isn't too hard either. With enough help, one can prepare up to 10 gallons of wet sugar on any day. A quart is sold for as much as $400, though Brown sells his for about $300. In total, up to $22,000 can be fetched in a day's business if one is definitely in the trade to make money.
In Lundie, Darliston and surrounding communities, wet sugar is a staple, which means there is always a constant demand for it.
"Them no know dry sugar around here," says Brown. "Round here, dry sugar come like luxury. Is wet sugar we know bout."
Unrefined, wet sugar is packed with far more nutrients than general table sugar and it is far tastier.
It is not too hard getting into the business either. Almost everyone in this district grows cane and with a community so close-knit, materials and workmen can be had at a low cost.
On a normal production day, operating costs are also kept low. Fellow farmers pitch in to assist Brown in exchange for some cane 'liquor', or for some of the golden wet sugar.
It is a thing most farmers here enjoy, and so, often after a long workday, playful quarrel develops over the liquor.
"A who you gi dat?" Clarence Clarke queries as just a mouthful of the refreshing juice is thrown into his calabash by fellow farmer Joseph Campbell.
"You can stay there, you must learn to satisfy. You naa get no more!" exclaims Campbell jokingly.
Dark, viscose syrup is fed into this trough. It is cooled to produce, wet sugar, which is a sweetener.
This small mill has the capacity to produce more than 10 gallons of wet sugar per day.
Clarence Clarke gathers ripe, freshly cut sugar cane.
Above article courtesy of the Gleaner
In the hills of Darliston. The smoke is coming from the burned cane fields in Roaring River
Nothing like the setting sun on the horizon
We also decided to check out the Blue Hole and the Roaring River Community. This community is in the Parish of Westmoreland, you travel through Little London, through Sav La Mar to a town named Peter'sFeild. You travel through cane fields til you get to Shrewsbury Estate which is the source of the Roaring River. Seemingly from nowhere the river emerges into a blue hole from a subterranean course, I've been told you only hear the roar after May This community has 3 major spots of interest, The caves, where you can get a guided tour underground into the caves were the river flows into private little caverns filled with river water, if you're up for it your guide can give you a full body massage, our guide has always been Dr. Scott, who after your massage which consists of a mud and a rock loofah treatment, very invigorating and calming, takes you into the temple , now here is where the spirit of trust comes in. I can't swim but the vibe of this man was so spiritual for me, I trusted him to lead me in his arms backwards, into this private place where he chanted soothing words to me, which further heightened the experience. I came away from the experience, like I could conquer any obstacle feeling like that might come my way, or on a more positive note I came away ENHANCED!
Next stop was the Blue Hole, a supposedly bottomless swim hole the color of pure blue where you can swim to your hearts content, they also have quaint wooden cottages, and another watering hole where you can lay on the rocks and get a massage as the invigorating river water crashes over the rocks like a mini waterfall.
If your up for it you can take a walk around another property on site called Benji's Paradise
(from Benji's website)
Just give Benji's sister "Biggy" a call in advance (876) 350-6152 and let her know when you can come up. Treat yourself to a day as a Rasta, There is nothing commercial here, you will enjoy a day just being one with nature, eating Ital food, swimming and if you are adventurous some short hikes. Relax in the river as you are served many tasty treats fresh from the bountiful gardens.
Coco - a potato like root
Callalou with onions and tomatoMango
Fresh picked ackee
Salt fish dumplings
Various styles rice and peas
You can have all of these made into fresh natural juices [quote]
Or if time permits have a meal at the Blue Hole Cafe as you round the bend coming from Benji's another good place for delicious ital food, fresh natural juices, ice cold drinks, test your skills at dominoes if you dare, against your guide or one of the many folks hanging out at the cafe.
We did a complete walk through of the entire area over the course of a couple of visits and I must add this is a wonderful place to spend an entire day, as I said it is a community and who knows who you may meet as you walk through the village old and young alike willing to take a minute to explain watagwaan. (whats going on) in their community. Take a minute.
You may find yourself spending hours in one or the other sites and find you must return to explore the others, but it is well worth the trek.
|Joy, our guide at the Blue Hole|
Out house, yes it's in use
|More of the grounds|
|Swim with the fish|
|Benji's private pool|
Swim at your own risk, right outside your cottage