Donation from Barbadian Construction Firm to push sustainable organic agriculture in schools

Walkers Sand Quarry (WSQ) just presented a donation to The Alleyne School for the establishment of the island’s first fully integrated school-based sustainable agricultural programme.

Students of the Alleyne School during the presentation at morning assembly.

Under the theme, “Closing the Food Loop”, WSQ in conjunction with Slow Food Barbados (SFB) and Be The Change Barbados, The Organic Growers and Consumers Association and The Future Centre Trust implemented the pilot programme at the tune of Bds $10,000 aiming to demonstrate the feasibility of establishing a green circular economic model using the principles of sustainable organic agriculture.

McNeel with Agricultural Science teacher, Anthony Sealy and Principal of The Alleyne School, Cheryl Wade.

The donation financed by Walkers will go towards the purchasing of equipment and supplies for the organic garden, composting barrels and recycling bins which will be placed throughout the school compound.

Heading the pilot project are SFB co-founders Ian McNeel and John Hunte and Julie Hooper, Director of Nutrition.

Slow Food Barbados co-founder Ian McNeel speaking with Agricultural Science students yesterday at The Alleyne School.

McNeel, Hunte and WSQ representative Ronald Howell were on hand at the school to present equipment and supplies to Acting Principal of the Alleyne School, Cheryl Wade and Agricultural Science teacher Anthony Sealy.

McNeel explained that the program aimed to support young people by encouraging them to play a central role in agriculture and agri-production on the island, stating that without them Barbados’ food system had no future.

He said, “When you ask a child where does food come from, and their response is KFC or the supermarket, we know there is a serious problem.

For this reason, we need to reconnect our youth with basic knowledge of where their food comes from, how it is grown, produced and cooked and the impacts associated with the use of chemicals on our health and our environment.

With the help of grassroots organisations like the four taking part, the sustainable agricultural programme at the Alleyne school will work on various aspects of improving the youth’s knowledge about growing and consuming good, clean healthy foods and I would like to personally commend the support displayed by all of the organisations and individuals who have seen the importance of this initiative.

McNeel with Walkers Sand Quarries representative, Ronald Howell presenting equipment to Principal Wade

Hooper said, “Learning about health, nutrition and sustainability from a young age is very powerful. When students grow their own food and taste the difference in flavour of food that is grown with only natural inputs there is a shift. With that shift comes a change for a healthier, happier, and cleaner life.”

Hooper acknowledged that such efforts to have a fully integrated sustainable system needed the support of several participants; as such she commended the participation of the follow individuals who have agreed to take part in the initiative:

• The school canteen operator has agreed to join in the efforts by entering into a purchasing agreement of the produce grown in the garden. The operator will also go one step further by participating in a composting initiative to reduce their waste; this compost will then be used by agricultural science students in the organic garden. Hooper explained that such participation will not only shorten the food chain by using fresher, local foods grown by students, but their commitment will at the same time address its food waste management through composting and recycling program as well as improve canteen meals and children’s food habits, promoting a healthy and educated future generation.
• The school’s Home Economics teacher will also get onboard by introducing organic farming and its added environmental and health benefits into its syllabus and when needed, produce from the garden will also be used in cooking demonstrations.
• A proposal has also been put forward for Principle of Business students as part of their studies, to construct a business plan for the organic farm.
• Organic farmers as well as other sustainable agricultural and nutritional professionals will visit as guest speakers periodically to Home Economics and Agricultural Science students.
• Hunte will head an afterschool organic garden club that would allow more hands-on opportunities for Agricultural Science students.

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