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Mar 17, 2022

Farmed to Perfection: Camalote Family Encourages Belizeans to Grow What they Eat

As products on the local market become more and more costly, maybe it is time to consider growing more of what you eat. As our next story shows, starting out may not be as difficult as many people think. Today News Five visited a small family owned farm in Camalote Village where one mother and her kids are raising chickens and producing their own honey.  Paul Lopez reports. 


Paul Lopez, Reporting

One of the current trends in Belize is to grow more of what we eat. The Minister of Agriculture has been encouraging it. And, it was a priority topic at a recent CARICOM Heads of Government meeting. Today, we visited Farmed to Perfection, a small family farm in Camalote Village where the owners are currently producing chicken, eggs, bees and honey, both to consume and put on the local market. Meet Shalwa Leslie, the founder of Farmed to Perfection.


Shalwa Leslie

Shalwa Leslie, Owner, Farmed to Perfection

“We offer organic eggs. We have over two hundred chickens. We have the regular layer chickens that everybody knows of. And, we also produce honey. We have our own apiary. And one other product is the butterfly pea, which is a tea or a juice.”


Shalwa, her three children and her husband all live on eleven acres of land, only a small percentage of it cleared. Each one of her children has a role to play on the farm.


Shalwa Leslie, Owner, Farmed to Perfection

“Our children don’t have a choice, full stop. This is what we do. It could be passed on to them if they remain in it when they are adults. But, for the meantime when they are teenagers and they are at home they don’t have a choice, because we want to teach them. We want to teach them how to be productive.”


For five year old Christophe, being inside this chicken coop tending to over two hundred chickens is a fun activity. It has become a part of his daily routine (Include Nat Sound of Child Picking up Chicken). The children even name the chickens. This white rooster’s name is K.F.C.  Feeding time is when things really get crazy around these parts. (Include Nat sound of chickens feeding). B.B., is a special needs chicken. It feeds separate from the rest of the chickens because of its twisted beak. All the care and attention that goes into these layers yields a daily harvest of eggs, two hundred a day at least.  And today, we actually witnessed one of these layers laying an egg.


Shalwa Leslie, Owner, Farmed to Perfection

“I believe we should get into this more, because each household, let’s say you have six people in your household, then you can just lay maybe, you can just have not lay, you can just have about three chickens, three, four chickens, you are going to get four eggs a day you know. You are not buying those eggs. You can control the quality. You can control the nutrition base in those chickens. If you are worried about being in the city, this is what I say, then you get chickens that don’t make a lot of noise, those are silkies, they are very minimal, very friendly, and you are getting your eggs for the week, picking this and getting quality.”


After getting acquainted with the chickens on Leslie farm, we suited up to make our way over to their bee apiary. Shalwa prepared the smoke that is used to keep the bees calm. With a little assistance, I was covered in additional protective gear. Little Christophe was engaged in the same preparation process. In case you are wondering, these are African bees. They are armed with stingers. A sting can become very uncomfortable; too much, and it may land you in the hospital. But, this dangerous creature not only helps to fertilize plants, it also produces the honey that Farm to Perfection bottles as their Granny Bee product. Standing in the center of a swarm of these deadly and equally beautiful creatures really gave me a sense of appreciation for their contributions.  A brief mishap involving one of Leslie’s daughters revealed just how quick things can turn.


Shalwa Leslie, Owner, Farmed to Perfection

“Yes, I agree we should stay away from bees. It is nothing to play with. They can be very dangerous. You really need to know what you were doing. So, it was definitely important for me to get training in that area. However, bees have been able to calm me. It stops me. It lets me think about what I am doing. In business, in any growth even in Belize, we need something that will let us stop. We need to slow down. But we are not slowing down to stop; we are slowing down to speed up.”


Paul Lopez

“Your daughter got stung, is she gonna be alright?”


Shalwa Leslie, Owner, Farmed to Perfection

“She is going to be fine. I tell them that they need to get stung at least once a month, because that lets their body gets immune to the sting.”


As we stopped to appreciate the other animals that call Farm to Perfection their home, a calf, rabbits, dogs and pigs, we looked to the future of this family farm. Shalwa hopes to establish a honey house on the farm and expand the sale of her honey and egg products across districts. She also offers educational tours on the farm.


Shalwa Leslie, Owner, Farmed to Perfection

“We want it to be a place of encouragement and inspiration.  We want people to come here and know that I am not discounted, and because I don’t have any money, that you can do it small, start small and grow big. My motto is that there is something I can grow or make, I will not buy it. So I cannot make fuel so I will buy fuel, but I can make the money to buy fuel from something else.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.


Shalwa Leslie can be contacted via Facebook at Farmed to Perfection or by phone at 6688949.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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