As a number of Barbadians and groups from across the island prepare to compete in the Community Mini-Parks and Gardens Competition, Coordinator of the Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat, Curtis Gibbons, has expressed delight at the growth of the programme.
Mr. Gibbons said the response to the competition had been encouraging. "When we started with the mini-park competition alone, we had a limited number of persons. However, since we asked people in the community to get involved, in 2009 we had approximately 51 entrants, up from 18.
"So, the programme has continued to grow and we are also seeing more people coming on board this year as well. This has been bolstered by the fact that the Parish Independence Committees are looking to get persons within the community involved in what we are doing," he explained.
He pointed out that those persons and groups interested in participating in the programme should submit their application forms to the Community Independence Celebrations Secretariat, at Mall Internationale, Haggatt Hall, St. Michael, by Wednesday, October 31.
The Mini-Park Competition was introduced in 1995 and it seeks to ensure that Barbadians maintain a sense of national pride in their surroundings, as well as promote community-mindedness through the direct involvement in the maintenance of the country’s natural landscape.
Mr. Gibbons stated that given the global food crisis in 2008, a kitchen gardens component was included to help persons see the importance of sustaining themselves in the area of food production.
"We felt it was important Barbadians got back to the traditional things they had done [over the years] such as having a backyard garden, where they could grow produce and share or barter what they have," he stated.
He disclosed that the judges had recommended that a recycling and use of sustainable material segment be included in the respective gardens or mini-parks. "And, it has paid dividends because we have seen a lot of creativity coming out in these particular parks.
"I can speak with special reference to St. Lucy. There was a park we saw … and one of the focal points of it was, believe it or not, a discarded toilet. The way it was done was so creative you had to just take notice of this particular garden and it was an old lady who conceptualised it," he noted.
Judging of the competition will take place in early November and the winners will be rewarded at the Spirit of the Nation Show, on Saturday, November 17. The mini-park and kitchen garden winners will receive $1,500, while those who win the traditional and contemporary garden segments will collect $1,000.????
Pride of Wilson Hill Community Park secured first place last year in the mini-park component, while Margaret Headley and Marcia Springer won Contemporary and Traditional Gardens, respectively; and Edwin Craig was the winner of the Kitchen Garden segment.