CBT: What was your inspiration to start Farm Fresh Direct?
MR: It was always my philosophy, since I spent so many years in the hospitality industry, to create a company that produces only items from locally grown products.
CBT: Which products did you first start producing?
MR: It started with coconut water and then callaloo. Very simple. Then people were asking, “What else do you sell?” so I started doing research to see what other products we could do which were 100 per cent locally sourced. I learned that there were so many things that grow here that you can use, which are very healthy. Some of them are called weeds, but they’re not weeds — you can make a salad out of it.
CBT: What kinds of products are you making with coconuts?
MR: We make coconut oil, coconut vinegar, coconut jelly, coconut marmalade, coconut flour, but what we’re very well known for now is coconut yoghurt. All our products are not pasteurised, so we’re working fresh products that have to be stored properly and eaten soon. So there’s a learning curve for the client who is used to buying pasteurised and sterilised products in the supermarkets. We’re now making coconut yoghurt, milk yoghurt and fruit yoghurt, which means 100 per cent local fruit fermented at the same time with the yoghurt. It’s not what you find in the supermarkets where they put some fruit jam in a layer underneath and then put yoghurt on top of it.
CBT: Is there anything else Farm Fresh Direct is known for?
MR: Fresh sugar cane products, which is something I always wanted to do. We had a fair amount of sugar cane supply until October last year, with about 200 pounds a week, but it dropped down to five pounds per week because there was no rain. But now we’ve started up again and presently we’re focused on sugar cane juice.
CBT: You went from managing one of Grand Cayman’s busiest restaurants at Grand Old House for many years to now running a small business. What’s that like?
MR: I love it. I’m an entrepreneur. All my life I had some ideas about what I wanted to help perfect. At one point, it was wine glasses. When people were still drinking from thick-lipped glasses, I brought crystal glasses to Cayman. When people didn’t know what coffee really meant and were drinking Folgers, we were already dancing with Illy. I was part of the perfection. And I’m sure over the next 12 to 18 months, people are going to copy what we’re doing now, but we’re going to try and always be a step ahead.