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ECTAD Vermont Farmers Labour Cluster partners with the Buccament Government School

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The Eastern Caribbean Trading Agriculture and Development Organisation (ECTAD) in its effort to encourage schools and youths to get involved in agriculture has made its presence at the Buccament Government School.{{more}}

On Tuesday, February 7, ECTAD’s Vermont Farmers Labour Cluster in celebration of their first anniversary, returned to their former school to start a school garden project.

Under the leadership of Lorna Prescott, this energetic Cluster comprises six men and one woman.

According to Prescott, “the initiative is part of ECTAD’s overall programme to engage youths to get involved in agriculture from an early age, while promoting healthy and nutritious diets. It is also part of the Cluster’s interest to give back to their community, by preparing a backyard garden plot in which students will soon plant a variety of vegetables”.

Artis Robertson, Headteacher of the Buccament School, said: “The main purpose of this backyard garden initiative is to get children to develop a positive attitude toward agriculture and influence a habit of producing their own food.”

In recent years, St Vincent and the Grenadines has been struggling with the effects of youth shying away from careers in the agriculture industry and neglecting proper nutrition by depending on imported, processed foods. The combination of these factors and shifting environmental conditions have had a negative impact on the country’s capacity for self-sufficiency in food production and foreign exchange.

The garden project is a step towards a brighter future for agricultural development and sustainability in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Robinson and the rest of Buccament Government School students and staff are very thankful for the generous assistance from the ECTAD Vermont Farmers Labour Cluster in clearing and preparing the land. Mr. Robinson hopes this project will get students actively involved in farming and provide insight into the importance of agriculture for the sustainability of the country’s food system.

The backyard garden will also help support the School Feeding Program. Recognizing the importance of a healthy, balanced diet for growing children, the school will use the vegetables produced and harvested by the students to prepare nutritious meals at a subsidized cost of 50 cents. The students plan to grow tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce, and cucumbers, among other vegetables, under the guidance of the Vermont Farmers Labour Cluster.

Despite doubts from skeptics in their beginning stages, Prescott is proud to report that the ECTAD Vermont Farmers Labour Cluster is “still going strong, and bonding even closer now more than ever.” There are numerous advantages to this method of farming, and the Vermont Cluster intends to share their positive experiences, and demonstrate how well it can work to other small farmers in Saint Vincent and even the Caribbean region through the Caribbean Farmers Network (CaFAN). This bright light of success comes at a time where the agriculture industry in St Vincent needs a spark of motivation – especially among the youth. As the Cluster continues their cooperative approach, they hope to encourage new groups of farmers to form similar partnerships, and ultimately push the industry towards a level of sustainability and prosperity that farmers and people alike can benefit from for years to come.

ECTAD is also supporting a similar initiative at the Bishops College Kingstown.

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