May 20, 2007 Growing things comes naturally to James Fleming. As a child on Anguilla, Fleming's mother supported him and his six siblings from her garden, and he helped her.
Fleming came to St. Thomas the first time when he was 14. Shortly thereafter he moved back to Anguilla, returning to St. Thomas for good in 1992.
He went to work immediately for Nick Pourzal taking care of Pourzal's private gardens and landscaping. That's where Fleming says he developed his love for orchids.
"Mr. P had the most beautiful orchids in the world," Fleming says.
But even while working for Pourzal, Fleming had the entrepreneurship bug.
He had several clients on the side. "Whenever people saw my work, " Fleming says, "they always wanted me to work for them," which he did, starting at 5 a.m. before going to work for Pourzal.
Finally, after seven years, Fleming made the decision to strike out on his own.
"I think it was the best move I ever made," he said.
With his tools and truck, Fleming offers lawn grooming, gardening, landscaping, property cleanup and small trucking to clients all over St. Thomas.
Fleming says the best part of his job is tending to growing things, especially flowers. "I love to see the plants." He says when he has to clip the hedges, however, it makes him sad. He doesn't like to see the flowers clipped.
The worst part of his job is customers who try to avoid paying him.
But he says, "I still go back and work with them."
The 52-year-old Fleming is married and has three children. Jenice, 14, goes to school in New York, while his 18-year-old son, Justin, is in Atlanta, and his daughter Bianca, 30, is on St. Thomas.
How does he spend his spare time? Growing things, of course.
He raises coconut trees, often sending them back to Anguilla and grafts mangoes, among other horticultural pursuits.
Fleming says though he is busy he can always take on a few more customers.
He can be reached at 775-0729 or 771-8732.
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