Member Spotlight: Rory McKay

OHIO—In the eastern Caribbean island of Barbados, Rory McKay lives with his wife Julie, growing a variety of produce on a nearly quarter-acre garden bed next to his house. Originally from Trinidad, McKay first got into gardening in 2012 after moving to Barbados in 2011 with his wife, who is from Barbados. They started a small garden behind their home, planting hot peppers, cassava, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, cucumbers and some other varieties, but it only lasted three years. In August of 2020, they had a piece of land adjacent to their home plowed, rotavated and farrowed for cultivating crops. They have been gardening ever since.

McKay said there are a number of challenges with what he does. Without his own vehicle to transport produce to the market, he must hire transport, which “can be very costly.” He said that during the dry season, “work can become very tedious, because the soil is not that soft.” He must plow the ground manually to prepare for new crops, because he does not have a machine to do it. Other challenges he faces are “pests—such as plant destroying worms and insects—slugs, rats and iguanas. The iguanas are not indigenous to Barbados, but probably brought into the island as pets and got away or released from their enclosures, or brought in through factory containers.” Every year during hurricane season, which lasts from June to November, McKay loses some of his plantain and banana trees.

Other than these “major challenges,” McKay said there are “a few other minor challenges.” The law in Barbados forbids burning things without a permit, so he must manage a compost pile. He said he also finds it difficult to grow herbs such as chive, thyme, rosemary and parsley for his wife, who “likes to make her own seasoning.”

McKay said he enjoys working in the garden with his wife when she has the time. He said the gardening “brings God into your thoughts” and “how God revealed to ancient Israel His master plan based on an agrarian society.” He said he also sees it as preparation “for the place of safety, when we will be growing our own food and beautifying that area to look like the garden of Eden.”

“It also gives great joy when you can harvest your own produce that we grow from our own garden without the use of chemicals” and “when our crops produce great yields, and you can eat of it, and share some with the brethren, and sell to get money to support God’s Work,” he said. “When I am harvesting, people passing by will stop and buy. When I am working in the garden, people say to me how nice the garden looks.” He said it is nice to walk in the garden on the Sabbath.

McKay was a member of the Worldwide Church of God from 1989 through 1995. He stopped attending “after I realized truth was being cast to the ground.” He came into the Philadelphia Church of God in March of 2003 and was baptized that same year on the Last Great Day, the final day of the Holy Day calendar, at the Feast site in Tobago.