The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ School Garden Initiative is the recipient of an irrigation system including an irrigation hose, fittings, emitters and seedlings including, okra, kale, lemon basil, season and bell peppers courtesy of the Fort Garden Centre and Plant Wise VI.
The Fort Garden Centre donated the irrigation system while the seedlings were donated by Mr. Jamal and Mrs. Stressa Bradshaw of Plant Wise VI as part of the Farmers’ and Fishers’ Week 2021 activities.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, Culture, Youth Affairs, Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr. the Honourable Natalio D. Wheatley, said the much appreciated donations will benefit the students of Alexandrina Maduro Primary School by allowing them to be exposed to and work in a properly set up garden.
“As a result, these students will have the knowledge and skills to set up their own gardens at their homes or even consider a career in agriculture. They will also develop a greater appreciation of how the food they eat is produced,” Honourable Wheatley said.
Director for the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr. Theodore James said the department’s school garden initiative aims to expand the learning experience beyond the traditional classroom setting.
“School gardens are not only about planting, watering and harvesting of fruits and vegetables, but they also provide many opportunities for problem-solving and identifying beneficial and non-beneficial insects,” Mr. James said, adding, “They promote healthy eating by connecting growing food and healthy diets. They also increase environmental awareness.
The Director said, “Obesity and malnutrition affect many children and adults around the world. To curb these behaviours many countries are incorporating health and nutrition curriculum alongside their school garden; they are changing the eating habits of students and kitchens at home. We must jump on board for a healthier Virgin Islands.”
Mr. James stated that the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries’ aims to revive school gardens and farms in all public primary and secondary schools throughout the Territory.
“We have begun with the Alexandrina Maduro Primary School and we are in the process of looking at two additional schools as pilots. After the evaluation of the pilots, we will bring other schools on board.”
Director James said the department intends to collaborate with the Ministry of Education, principals, staff, parents and teachers associations, other sponsors as well as the farming and fishing community to develop a programme and an agreement among stakeholders during the next twelve months. He also encouraged all private schools to build or improve on their school gardens and farms.
“We encourage all schools to establish a garden club, create badges and club shirts for students. Before you know it, your school can be featured at the Farmers’ and Fishers’ Week Exhibition and Market Day event,” he said.
The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries remains committed to ensuring the sustainable production, harvest and supply of safe, high quality food by regulating the agricultural and fisheries sectors.
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