Dr Geoffery Williams: Animal Farm & Nature Reserve Part 1

Style Observer

Dr Geoffery Williams: Animal Farm & Nature Reserve Part 1

Sunday, November 22, 2020

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“Nature sustains me. I love my work and have dedicated a lot of time to my patients but the rest of my time is all about enjoying nature and sharing in that joy with family and friends.”

— Dr Geoffrey Williams

Dr Geoffrey Williams, renowned Montego-Bay -based surgeon, is not only the quintessential medical professional but also a gentle soul with the greatest appreciation for God's gift of nature. If you know him well, it is safe to say that annually you wait with bated breath for an invitation from himself and his wife Dr Joy Callender-Williams to their country-chic home away from home for their annual rustic Christmas shindig at Animal Farm and Nature Reserve, a sentimental piece of The Rock.

More than a house…

Located 30 minutes from Montego Bay in Copse, Hanover, Dr Williams carved out his own little haven in the hills as his home away from home and personal haven and refuge to better enjoy nature and keep birds and other animals. The good doctor explains, “Animal Farm and Nature Reserve is truly the manifestation of my lifelong love of animals, especially birds and nature. When I moved from house to apartment living in Montego Bay and I could no longer keep the few pets I had, I sought out a place where I could raise birds and be closer to nature.”

In the spirit of all animal and nature lovers, Dr Williams has mastered the evolutionary art of creating his own piece of paradise from what to many would have been wilderness and rubble. “I started out with six acres and when I cleared the land of unwanted bush, I was amazed at the rate at which they grew back. So, after a few rounds of clearing and regrowth, I decided to replace the bush with ornamental plants,” he explained.

Thereafter, his gardening journey which started about 15 years ago, took off like Bolt at the 2008 Olympics

Dr Williams explains, “After a few years of developing the land and expanding the farm, I suddenly realised that I had run out of space and acquired the adjacent lot of 34 acres of primarily uncultivated land that I had been admiring for its natural beauty and extended river frontage.”

Today, Animal Farm and Nature Reserve is open to the public and “is a refuge for anyone who wants to experience and interact with nature and birds through hiking, nature walks, bamboo river rafting and more. The Farm and Reserve is open daily for tours and now boasts eco-cottages for overnight guests.

The gardens

There is a host of gardens at Animal Farm & Nature Reserve. “Everywhere at Animal Farm has a name — from the pathways to the eco-cottages (Rocky and Barbara) and the gardens are no exception. Most are named after family members. Lettie's Kitchen Garden is named after my late mother. There I grow lettuce, tomato, cabbage, cucumbers, pumpkin, sweet and Scotch bonnet peppers and okra. The others are Joy's Herbal Garden, Pansy's Tropical Garden, Joelle's Butterfly Garden, Maureen's Sunken Garden, Cavell's Valley Garden, and there is also a Bromeliad Garden with only wild indigenous plants,” Dr William informs.

The wild things

Of note, a wide array of wild indigenous bird species call the Farm & Reserve home. Dr Williams says, Our most bird-feeding trees are the Cheerry (Malpighia glabra) and Fiddlewood (Citharexylumfructiosum). They are magnets for a wide variety of birds. If you can find one, that is the spot to sit and watch birds coming and going as they feed.”

Hummingbirds are frequent feeders at the reserve. If you have the magic touch, Hummingbirds are easy to attract. Dr Williams advises that “Poor Man's Orchid is a top choice. Hummers and small birds like Banana Quits also love pentas, Mary's Tears, hibiscus, thunbergia, ixora, shrimp and more.”

The property is also home to an aviary of budgies and love birds where guests can hand feed them.

Butterflies, too, have a place on the reserve and are apparently easy for to attract. “To attract butterflies you need two sets of plants: host plants for caterpillars and flowering plants for butterflies. For the former, try red top (Asclepiascurassavica) especially for the monarchs, and a variety of vegetables for the others. For the latter try pentas again. You can't go wrong with pentas and they come in several colours.”

Join us next week for Part 2.

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