On the shelves now in Abaco Groceries, Abaco Treasures and Golden Harvest (Treasure Cay) are jars of delicious guava jam with eye catching labels announcing the name ‘Abaconian Guava Jam’.
“This jam is truly Abaco style guava jam,” says Dennis Lightbourn, owner of Poinciana Farms Limited, producer of the jam. “Different countries produce different styles and consistencies but ours is truly unique to Abaco. We experimented for some time to get it to a consistency we really liked and are very pleased with this product. Eventually our main market will be Nassau and we expect to have the jam in stores there by next year,” he added.
The farm consists of 29 acres on which 400 guava trees are thriving. These trees presently produce crops twice a year but Mr. Lightbourn is hoping they will eventually produce four crops a year. “This is a family business and during the season my wife, two sons and I pick twice a day but once the farm begins to produce more then I will no doubt have to hire some help,” he says.
Poinciana Farm, located in South Abaco, was first established in 2009. The original idea was to produce mangoes and 200 trees were planted. However, the weather was not kind and two storms weakened the trees. Then two years ago a forest fire completely destroyed them. A fire surrounded the farm and all the farm sprinklers were activated but unfortunately the well ran dry and within half an hour all but three of the trees perished.
Facing this devastation with a very positive attitude Mr. Lightbourn decided that since he had all of the infrastructure in and already had 200 planting holes two feet in diameter and four feet deep it should not be too difficult to start again. The decision was made to plant guava trees instead.
Within four years the trees had grown well.
“At first we picked off the flowers after the bees had done their work in order to let the trees grow. Guavas are a faster crop and this is the best thing we ever did,” said Mr. Lightbourn.
The first major crop was harvested last July and Mr. Lightbourn then went about developing his guava jam recipe. He currently makes it in his spacious kitchen but is struggling to keep up with the harvest.
“I need a small manufacturing facility which I plan to obtain within the next two months,” he stated.
Before he planted the original trees Lightbourn augured the holes then mixed natural soil with cow manure and placed it in the hole like a giant pot in the ground. Each tree has its own irrigation sprinkler and is fertilised through the irrigation system. The type of guava grown is a hybrid from Florida which was specially developed for its high yield. According to Mr. Lightbourn it also has a high pulp and sugar content but low seeds and he has fine-tuned his jam recipe to be specific to his own guava. His wife helps with sales and marketing.
In a partnership with Driftwood Food Company which supplies him with cucumbers and a particular variety of tomato, Mr. Lightbourn has also produced pickled cucumbers and a spicy tomato preserve. In addition to his 400 guava trees Mr. Lightbourn is now preparing his land for the growing of mangoes and avocadoes.