Some of the produce being grown as part of the Urban Agriculture Programme, a community project in St. James. (GP)

Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, has described as “ingenious” a project launched in St. James to help residents grow and produce their own food.

Speaking last Sunday in the parish, the Minister praised residents in the area for their ability to use various containers, including pallets and drums to contribute to food production.

“I am witnessing what can be replicated right across the urban and suburban corridors of Barbados,” Minister Weir said of the project known as the Urban Agricultural Programme.

He noted persons who would undergo related training under the programme would help to take it forward, “using it as an opportunity to grow some of the fresh produce that they consume”. 

Elaborating further, he stressed: “We can make this a project that helps people to first of all appreciate what it takes to be able to grow your food because there is a huge amount that goes into it, and then equally to be able to grow your own food and reduce the use of chemicals and pesticides.

“It is very important in this day and age because we know what we are consuming, and we know what is going into it and then equally we’re able then to start our fight against the high levels of NCDs that we have in Barbados because once you have clean healthy food you’re more likely to eat that, than to go somewhere and buy something that is unhealthy.

“And, I’ve maintained over and over the more I see projects like these the more convinced I am that our school children, who are the future of Barbados, will get to consume healthier food, where a child that consumes passion fruit or a piece of melon is likely to eat that and wouldn’t reach out for a pack of corn curls which is full of dye and not healthy.”

The Urban Agricultural Programme helps residents grow and produce their own food. They use various containers including pallets and drums to grow crops. (GP)

As he expressed pleasure to have his Ministry on board, he assured those gathered that any needed support would be forthcoming from him, as well as his technical staff, who would proffer “any advice to build the project going forward”.

Meanwhile, Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands, in addressing the event, hosted in the gardens of Lorne Leacock, said the project aimed to empower every resident to plant, whether they came from the urban or rural areas. “I believe everybody should be able to plant something,” she maintained.

The St. James project is a partnership with the Ministry and Victory Gardens. 

Following the official remarks, Mr. Leacock showcased his backyard garden and animal husbandry.  

Explaining that he was looking to save on purchasing produce from supermarkets, he said he was now growing a variety that include okras, Chinese cabbage, kale, cauliflower, cucumbers, sweet peppers, marjoram, parsley, celery and “some sweet potatoes in an old bath tub”.

Calling the initiative in St. James a good one as it highlights what people can do with pallets to grow items, Mr. Leacock added: “These are things we can grow on our own. We have sunshine all year round. We can plant some of the things we want in a little Clorox bottle, paint skillet, pallets, drums, and so on. We built planter boxes out of pallets and the launch of the community project is to show others what they too can do here in this parish.”

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