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Take me Ackee, go to Linstead market

If you’re driving the A1 between Ocho Rios and the south side of the island, you could take a quick detour and pass through the town of Linstead in Saint Catherine Parish, Jamaica, made famous for its bustling fresh produce. market and popularized in the Jamaican folk song, linstead market.

Jamaica’s largest and most famous produce market is the Coronation Market in downtown Kingston. But Linstead developed as a market in the 19th century when coffee and pepper wholesalers did business here. Farmers from the surrounding rural communities came to this central location to sell their produce. Once one of the most popular markets on the entire island, the town of Linstead grew up around it.

This area is very rural and the hardships of the farmers gave rise to the popular song linstead market. “Take my ackee go to Linstead Market, not a quattie wut sell, the leyd wat one night, not a bite, wat Saturday night.” Today we sing it at an accelerated pace without fully understanding that it was a sad lament from a mother who could not sell enough in the market to feed her children. This market lady made no money because not even a quattie of her produce had been sold (a quattie was the British halfpenny, a small copper coin of very little value) and she went home empty-handed after sell out all Saturday night. . This Jamaican folk song would fall into the up-tempo category Bow they are designed to cheer someone up and make the best of a bad situation (such as after a death).

While Linstead Market has faded in importance with many Jamaican cities and towns having their own markets today, it still has a reputation as one of the best places to get fresh produce. You can find vendors selling all kinds of produce that grows in Jamaica, but today there is a wide variety of other items such as herbs, spices, clothing, shoes, soap, etc.

So, go to a market in Linstead, and while you’re there, take a look at the beautiful churches in town. Most have been devastated over time by several hurricanes and an earthquake, but have been repaired or rebuilt. The original Anglican church was built in the 17th century. The Jericho Baptist Church dates from 1835.

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