It doesn’t take long to realise that Ainsworth Brown and his wife Addia, are on to something big with their farming exploits atop a hill in the extremely quiet Industry Pen community of Three Hills, St Mary.
The duo, whose relationship is built on trust, friendship, genuine love and an unshakable faith in God, recently welcomed Jamaica Today for an exclusive interview on their 10-acre property which is populated by a wide variety of flora which they use to carry out their ingenious plan.
What stands out most about them is their vast wealth of knowledge of agro-chemistry, vital to their business of processing raw products into food, medication, soap, therapeutic natural oils and candles.
Ainsworth Brown and his wife Addia put the lid on their food-grid still, used to process essential oils from herbs.
To put it mildly, this husband-and-wife partnership has turned their grass-root business into a national enterprise with sights now firmly set on making a global impact.
“Anything in agriculture can be a business and that business can form into an industry,” said Ainsworth while adjusting a lid on a massive food grid still.
History tells us that great things happen when people display strong mental fortitude, confidence in what they do and are equally – if not more, bold than their critics in trying the unknown.
The same can be said of the Brown’s three-year-old business, which started out as a service to friends and family members only.
Ainsworth stands on a pile of lemon grass set for a near four-hour distillation period.
“A lot of times people suffer loss when they are growing, and they spend time being bitter, angry and hateful. And it stops them from being creative because the section of the mind that stimulates hatred and anger doesn’t stimulate growth and development. So because of that they lose sight of the vision and cannot grow,” said Ainsworth, recalling a J$10 million business setback which preceded Addia Essential Oils.
That business, according to Ainsworth, was a massive poultry production but met its demise when a business partner’s unscrupulous act resulted in the loss of 10, 700 chickens.
After that loss, the Browns decided to seek divine intervention via fasting and praying. And as fate would have it, the birth of Addia Essential Oils took precedence.
“After we had that loss, we said to ourselves: “We need to do something, and we are not going to go back to the 9-5. We have always, even while doing the chickens, wanted to do some farming for household purposes so that we could have food to eat and stuff like that going through the day,” related Addia, who is also a cosmetologist.
She added: “As we started growing a little cabbage, a little pak choi, escallion and thyme, one day we decided to seek God’s intervention and out of nowhere this farm was open to us. When we came here it was total woodland. We decided to start working from the back of the farm, we cleaned a small patch and started out with scotch bonnet peppers. But it never did it for us, we needed water and there was no water here. Up to today we depend totally on rain water harvesting for crop growth. It was a fight, then one day Ainsworth said ‘why not expand on the herbs that we have?'”
They then decided on planting Cullen mints, which they say have been doing well for them, rain or shine. Addia and her husband got the epiphany that herbs is the way, after realizing a rapid expansion on the farm.
“We decided to go back to God again, started fasting and praying. We have an avocado tree and we decided to find a way to start making oils from these stuff because being in the cosmetology world, we also use essential oils for pedicure, for skin, hair and body care. So we decided to venture into this and Ainsworth was like ‘yeah, this is it Addia’,” she added.
Ainsworth, a chemist and engineer designed a stainless steel food grid still which he uses to distillate the herbs.
The steaming and pressuring, which comes from a near four-hour distillation period, forces the oil from the plant.
“The essential oil is really the immunity of the plant,” pointed out Ainsworth.
He added: “When I am finished all that is left is just the waste materials, which is the grass and it has no nutritional value. We use the oil to make candles, therapeutic oils, massage oils and for any other purpose.”
The volume of distillations done per day depends heavily on consumer demand. As such, the Browns are looking to expand their farming come January with plans to incorporate other farmers within the community.
They have employed people within the community for weeding, harvesting and field preparation. The labeling, packaging and marketing of the products are also done internally.
Some of the company’s most popular products are the moringa and lemon grass oils; as well as the nutmeg and avocado oils, which is cold-pressed from the fruit, highly potent and possesses great nutritional benefits for the skin.
The therapeutic Rosemary oil is also another popular product from the company’s brand as it helps with haircare and maintenance, thinning and breaking hair; dandruff or eczema on the scalp.
Ainsworth and his wife Addia are on top of their game, but despite their successes, they are humble enough to know that without a higher source guiding their steps they would be nothing.
“We put God in everything that we do. One of the things that makes us strong is that we listen to each other and learn from one another,” Addia said.