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Ripe for the picking

Some of the farm’s salad products are grown in raised beds.

by Latoya Burnham

Barbados is ripe for organic farming and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

That was the stern advice of organic farmer and manager of Nature’s Produce, Tim Walsh, as he hosted a tour of about 25 mainly women farmers from a two-day workshop on renewable energy in farming.

The workshop, which was being held under the auspices of the University of the West Indies and the Barbados Agricultural Society primarily for women farmers, visited the 126-acre St. Peter-based business this morning.

Walsh, who led the crew on a tour of his entire property, noted that after 15 years of trial and error and substantial investment, he was living proof that real organic farming was possible.

Several farmers, including workshop facilitator Dr. Indra Haraksingh of the St. Augustine Campus, noted that there were a lot of businesses, even in Trinidad, now passing themselves off as organic as a marketing ploy.

Another local female farmer said she had noticed that organic farmers were now the ones the consumers were turning to for produce, but again there was a need to make sure that the practices were truly organic.

Walsh, in taking the group through the farm, showed and explained the many techniques he employed, from raised beds, to hydroponics, free range chickens and aqua-culture, all of which in turn benefit the fruits, vegetables and herbs the farm produces. He even showed them his bio-control system with nutrient tanks which collect, monitor and regulate water from the farm that is then recirculated in farming.

“This is better for the water table because you have less nitrates and waste. How you do that? This is about five to six feet,” he said, indicating to the nutrient tanks.

“You were asking about what is organic and not organic, but there was always this concept that organic can’t work and I can honestly tell you now with the products that are available, organic can definitely work. There is no doubt whatsoever. It is how we apply the controls and our understanding of what we are dealing with.

“If you have a plant that has a nutritional problem, you are going to get every insect in the world because it is not strong. You are going to get every fungus because it is not strong, but definitely there is a possibility that it can be done in Barbados, so don’t let anyone tell you it can’t work,” the organic farmer advised.

He said he would have liked to have had a biodigester to use as a juicer to feed the plants, but again, he said the issue here was getting the right kind of equipment to service the area he needed.

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