Career & Education

From the track to the farm Ricardo Chambers uses hydroponics technology in Manchester

Youth & Agriculture

Sunday, June 23, 2019

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Ricardo Chambers enjoyed a prolific career on the track. Specialising in the 400m, the Olympian represented Jamaica at several international track meets. But three years ago, he walked away from it all.

Today, he is the owner of a vertical hydroponics farm, which is located in Spur Tree, Manchester.

He explained how the about-turn happened.

“My interest really started to develop from me encouraging other farmers to try using different methods of farming. They were mostly resistant to trying new things, so I started the farm to show others the possibilities when using technology to farm,” Chambers told the Jamaica Observer.

With the objective to make a significant contribution to the agriculture sector by introducing new methods of farming to farmers, the 34-year-old Chambers decided to put the brakes on a career in track and field.

“I stepped away from track in 2016 and now I am fully focused on the farm. My biggest motivation comes from my mission to revolutionise the agriculture sector in Jamaica,'” he told Career & Education.

Chambers farms on 12,000 square feet of land, which is located at Swaby's Hope. The operation began a year ago.

“The objective of the vertical hydro farm is to maximise our yield using the least amount of resources while farming on a small area of land. Our farm is a research facility, so we can collect data and spread to other farmers so they can utilise that information,” he explained.

Born in Trelawny, Chambers attended Christiana High School in Manchester before migrating to the United States. He later attended Florida State University.

In an effort to familiarise himself with the technicalities associated with farming, he studied agriculture at Ebony HEART Academy in Clarendon.

Later, he did research on countries with similar climate conditions to Jamaica and those that had access to technology. He also visited farms in the United States to gain additional knowledge.

Chambers acknowledged that some of his friends and associates were not supportive of his decision to pursue farming as a profession.

“Most people still don't see agriculture as a valuable career, so persons were not in support of it. However, my close friends and family are supportive of what I am doing,” he shared.

He continued,”I'm now farming fruits and vegetables but my main focus are strawberries and grape. I do plan to get into other areas of agriculture in the future”.

Chambers had some advice for young people wishing to pursue agriculture as a career choice.

“My best advice to our youth is that agriculture is very, very very lucrative. With the Internet and technology, agriculture is now easier and sexier,” he said.

Chambers is one of the 2019 Nutramix Youth in Agriculture ambassadors, inspiring young people to look at agriculture as a viable and lucrative career.


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