Scores of Barbadians showed up recently at the National Housing Corporation on Country Road to receive all types of seeds, seedlings and containers to begin growing their own food.
The distribution of these items was undertaken by the Rural Development Commission (RDC) which is continuing its thrust towards encouraging rural residents to make healthier choices and reduce their food bill, under its “Grow What You Eat” programme.
“We decided that a step in the right direction to really encourage people to grow what they eat and to help cut back on their food bill, would be to actually give them some growth receptacles, along with seeds and seedlings, so that they can start the process…. We have given them some options in terms of how they can convert the pallets,” said Public Relations Officer with the RDC, Wendy Burke adding that staff members were on hand to share vital information.
Explaining that the objective was also to help stem non-communicable diseases, Ms. Burke said: “It is even more critical now for Barbadians to grow their own food. Not only to help save on your food bill, but as things get tighter, stress gets higher. So, if you are growing what you are eating and you are growing healthy foods, you are also helping yourself in terms of controlling non-communicable diseases….
“And, the actual gardening process as well is a moderate form of exercise…. If all of us as individuals can see and understand the importance of self-sustainability and food sovereignty, then we are in a much better position to take the country forward collectively.”
Persons had to first register with the programme and provide their identification and proof of address to gain further assistance and for follow up purposes by the RDC.
In explaining the need for monitoring, Ms. Burke said: “While it is a project with a timeline, it is not something that we are going to do and abandon, – so there is going to be a follow-up. The Commission offers a loans programme to farmers, so should any of these individuals start the process and realise it is something they want to take further, we want to be able to leave the doors open for them in case they want to come and get a small loan to do it on a more commercial scale.
“We also want to be able to offer some assistance should they need it because any programme has to have some monitoring structure. So, at the end of it, we need to know what kind of reach we have in terms of the whole distribution process.”
The RDC representative also disclosed that six primary and secondary schools – in the north, central and southern zones within the rural corridor – would be targeted in the interest of boosting the initiative and educating the youth.
Ms. Burke invited others to come on board with the programme, noting that as a statutory corporation there was absolutely nothing wrong with reaching out to other government entities because it was about working in the interest of the people. She urged those with gardens equipment and supplies to buy into the “Grow What You Eat” initiative and assist the rural residents.
The RDC’s quest to get more people growing their own food saw 200 customers receiving approximately 150 pallets, 50 tyres and over 400 seeds and seedlings.