Day with The Farmer Man
“We have to get green and take care of our temple.” Words from Jah Mason on respecting the farmer.
Jah Mason, often referred to as ‘FarmaMa’ is a globally known Reggae musician and organic farmer that has helped to improve his community in the parish of Manchester, Jamaica. Mason has coined the term iGanic to refer to his plentiful and natural crops that he plants during his tour breaks which yielded his well-known quote “When I’m not performing… I’m farming.” Being self-sufficient is a topic that is often included in his lyrical mastery on songs such as 'Farmer Man', 'From Wah Day', and 'Every Likkle Mek A Mukkle'. We sat down with him to learn more about the work he’s done and his plans for the future.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up the parish of Manchester in west-central Jamaica. Here, as you're born you get you into farming. That's what we do here and that’s what we do best. I was raised seeing my family farming and I lived amongst the indigenous people growing tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower and seasonings like scallion and so on. We planted medicine amongst the vegetables. That’s how I view herb — as medicine. That is what sent us to school, that's what raised us.
What is your relationship with the herb today?
As a Rasta we use it as sacramental offering. I planted it for medicinal purposes, my relationship with the plant has always been has always been medicinal. Even if you don't smoke it I want you to promote it. There are a range of illnesses that this plant has the ability to cure. I'm not promoting it for people to go just ahead and smoke. I'm promoting it as a thing to heal.
How do you begin your day?
What is the importance of farming, specifically in Jamaica?
It's important because here in Jamaica we work with our hands. We don't have a machines — it's man and woman power. We work with a cutlass or hoe or fork. We have to respect that. After all that sweat and hard work we put in, when its time to reap and harvest our crop many label our stuff as ‘local’, meaning inferior. We can’t sell to supermarkets where locals shop because they haven’t been informed that the big, pretty looking imported produce is often full of GMOs, but it’s held superior.
What are your hopes for the future of farming in Jamaica?
I hope that we don't have to be dependent on the other side of the world to feed us. It’s amazing to plant a seed and watch it grow and reap in due season. It's more soul food when it's you who prepared it. It's empowering. There's ownership in that. We have to get green and take care of our temple.
In Jamaica, at school you’re taught to want to be a banker or an accountant when you grow up. No one wants to be the farmer. If I work on the farm I can create jobs, I have things I can share as well as things I can make money from. If more of the community did this, we could shift the perception of farming or farmers.
You often peak about farming in your music…
I use my music to send my message onward. When I'm not performing, I'm farming. We don't only sing this; we DO this. I'm trying to get the world to adopt this thinking. We can create something out of nothing. I want more people who singers and players to come on board and uplift the farmer man. We have more access to information about what we are consuming so the word should be continue to be spread.