This story was originally published in July 2019. We’re re-posting some of our favorite News of St. John stories.
St. John is the home to countless amazing residents. Some were born and raised here, while others made a choice to move to the island and create a life. Everyone has a story whether it be from their past, present or what their future plans include. Today, we’d like to introduce you to one of our favorites – Charles.
Charles Jackson was born and raised on the island, and has spent the past 11 years working as the gardener at the Annaberg Plantation. I’ve had the privilege of spending ample time with Charles, wandering through his garden and sampling a variety of fruits, herbs and sugarcane over the years. For the past few years, I’ve routinely taken my island tour guests to meet Charles. He’s a special person and one of our island’s treasures.
You may be wondering what motivates Charles to tend to the plantation’s garden year after year. For him, it’s quite simple.
“I like plants. I’m a plant person. I like to feed people. I like to be in charge. Land and food, you get woman. Land and food. So I do it,” Charles says with a smile. “I feel happy. You don’t work, you don’t get paid. I like it. It makes me happy.”
“When you plant a tree, it’s growing,” he continued. “It makes my work over. It’s finished.”
But it’s really not that simple. Charles doesn’t just plant something and move on. He tends to it, cares for it and he really knows a lot about what’s growing in his garden. Sure he has delicious fruits like mangoes, genips and papaya. But there is so much more happening behind the fences.
Recently I brought an island tour guest to the garden who had neck pain. He grabbed a leaf from a Noni tree and handed to my guest. “Put it on your skin to work the body,” he said. Charles refers to the tree as the “Painkiller Bush.” He also said when its fruit is soft and mushy that you can blend it and “it makes you feel healthy.”
Recently I complained to Charles about my one-year-old son and how he thinks thinks sleep is the enemy. He wandered over to a soursop bush, grabbed a leaf and handed it to me. He told me to crush up just a bit and put it into the baby’s bottle. He said it would help him sleep. Perhaps it was a coincidence but Dalton actually slept well that night.
Charles also believes that soursop can help cure cancer. And you know what? I believe him.
Please be sure to stop by Annaberg on your next trip and say hello. The garden is located on your right as you walk up the hill at Annaberg.
News of St. John is holding a raffle! For just $20, you can enter to win a five-night stay at Aquamare at Grande Bay plus $1,000 courtesy of 340 Real Estate Co. All proceeds will support the Animal Care Center. Please visit www.newsofstjohn.com/raffle for more information.