Take me Ackee, go to Linstead Market

If you’re driving on the A1 between Ocho Rios and the south side of the island, you can 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 Jamaican folk song, Linstead Market.

Jamaica’s largest and most famous produce market is 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 surrounding rural communities would come to this central location to sell their produce. It was once one of the most popular markets on the entire island and 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, wut not sell a quattie, wat la leyd one night, not a bite, wat Satiday night’. Today we sing it at an accelerated pace without really understanding that it was a sad lament from a mother who couldn’t sell enough in the market to feed her children. This market lady made no money because not a quattie of her produce had been sold (a quattie was the British halfpenny, a small copper coin of very small value) and she went home empty-handed after selling all saturday night. . This popular Jamaican song would fall into the category of up-tempo Bow that are designed to cheer someone up and make the best of a bad situation (such as after a death).

Although Linstead Market has fallen out of favor due to many Jamaican cities and towns now having their own markets, it still has a reputation as one of the best places to get fresh produce. You can find vendors selling all kinds of products that grow in Jamaica, but today there is a wide variety of other items such as herbs, spices, clothes, 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.