PR – Increasing food security through backyard gardening, promoting sustainable agriculture, and encouraging healthier eating habits, are the aims of the Backyard Gardeners’ Network Initiative.
The newly launched initiative is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Forestry and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). “The Ministry of Agriculture is pleased to collaborate with IICA for this initiative, as we recognise this as one way to encourage food and nutrition security for all,” said Senior Agricultural Officer, Lauren St. Louis.
The agronomist also explained that this initiative “will give foods a shorter carbon footprint, while at the same time encourage healthier eating habits.”
The official launch of this new network of 30 persons included a practical training session on the important elements in the backyard garden, during which participants were able to share information and techniques. “This Backyard Gardeners’ Initiative was developed as part of a regional project by IICA. We hope this would increase food production in the backyard, by supporting members through training and demonstrations,” said Derek Charles, IICA’s National Specialist.
Presentations during the first hands-on training were done by Dr. Guido Marcelle, and 4-H Officer, Melissa Tyson. Participant, Gentia Alexander, a market vendor, expressed elation to be a part of the network. “This will help me to grow my seasonings that I can sell,” she remarked. “For us single parents, it would help us to save a dollar. We can also start selling our products to earn a dollar to take care of our families,” said Annette Isaac, another member.
The launch of the network was done with a demonstration in St. Andrew, on the plot of Pamela Courtney, a successful backyard gardener. She implored members of the network to use the platform as a means of knowledge sharing and also shared her experience with backyard gardening. “Knowing where my food was coming from, and the career that I had, propelled me into backyard gardening,” she explained. “This has reduced the number of times I have had to go to the market because everything we eat comes from the backyard.”
As part of the network launch, members received a backyard gardeners’ starter pack, with small tools that can be used in the garden, and will receive a certificate of participation. All members are part of a WhatsApp group that will facilitate queries and information sharing.