Made in Cayman: Bringing fresh herbs to Cayman's kitchens

By Christopher Tobutt

20 December 2021

There's a big difference in dishes made with fresh herbs as opposed to those made with dried herbs. Fresh herbs look more appetising, they're more aromatic and in most cases, they make the dishes taste better.

Cayfresh herbs, which are available at Foster's, are grown on land in Bodden Town, so they're even fresher than the fresh herbs imported from overseas.

“We started off growing lettuces and tomatoes hydroponically in North Side in 2012, but we found that difficult, so we specialise in herbs now,” says CayFresh owner Bruce Mico, a chemist by profession. Since moving his operation to Bodden Town in 2016, Mico switched to growing in soil instead of hydroponic cultivation.

Cayfresh grows its herbs in raised beds filled with Bodden Town’s red-clay soil. The beds are watered through an irrigation system that is supplied by four underground wells and controlled electronically so that each bed gets enough water at the right time. Weeding the beds still needs to be done by hand, so several people are employed to do that, along with the daily harvesting and the planting of seedling herb plants.

man holding herbs in greenhouse
Cayfresh owner Bruce Mico at the farm in Bodden Town.

“Because they're local, they have got a very good shelf life," Mico says, noting that the herbs are delivered directly to the stores the day after they are harvested. "The imported herbs were harvested a week or 10 days ago and come from somewhere in South America. They fly them to Miami and then they get shipped here."

Supermarkets like CayFresh better, not only because the herbs are fresh, but also because Cayfresh can produce the quantities they need consistently, Mico says, adding that Cayman’s climate means that herbs will grow all year round.

“With herbs, you harvest them and they keep growing,” Mico says. “You have to learn how to manage their growth. If each plant gets too big it will die, but if we keep cutting it, then it comes back again.”

Basil is by far the best-selling herb in Cayman, and Cayfresh produces several different varieties, each with a slightly different taste. Other herbs grown by Cayfresh include rosemary, mint, thyme, tarragon, sage and dill.

In addition to packaged herbs, Cayfresh also produces some herbs in pots with soil so that residents can grow a regenerating plant on their kitchen windowsill and snip off some leaves as they need them.

This article was originally published in the December 2021 print edition of Camana Bay Times.

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