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School food plan

SFB’s Ian McNeel (right) chatting with students.

Food production in Barbados is in line for growth from an unexpected source.

The Alleyne School, pioneer of coeducation in government secondary schools, has scored another first — establishment of the island’s first fully integrated school-based sustainable agricultural programme”.

And the effort will see the school canteen operator entering into a purchasing agreement for the produce grown in the garden, in addition to participating in a composting initiative to reduce their waste.

A major step on the pathway to reaping this success was taken this week when the Belleplaine, St. Andrew institution received a $10,000 donation from Walkers Sand Quarry to “push sustainable organic agriculture in schools”.

Under the theme Closing the Food Loop, WSQ in conjunction with Slow Food Barbados and Be The Change Barbados, The Organic Growers and Consumers Association and The Future Centre Trust implemented the pilot programme. It’s aim was to “demonstrate the feasibility of establishing a green circular economic model using the principles of sustainable organic agriculture”.

The donated funds will be used to purchase equipment and supplies for the school’s organic garden, composting barrels and recycling bins which will be placed throughout the school compound.

The new pilot project is being headed by SFB co-founders, Ian McNeel and John Hunte, and Director of Nutrition Julie Hooper.

WSQ representative Ronald Howell, McNeel, and Hunte presented equipment and supplies to Acting Principal Cheryl Wade and Agricultural Science teacher Anthony Sealy.

McNeel explained that the programme aimed to support young people by encouraging them to play a central role in agriculture and agri-production on the island, stating that without them Barbados’ food system had no future.

“When you ask a child where does food come from, and their response is KFC or the supermarket, we know there is a serious problem. For this reason, we need to reconnect our youth with basic knowledge of where their food comes from, how it is grown, produced and cooked and the impacts associated with the use of chemicals on our health and our environment,” he said.

“With the help of grassroots organisations like the four taking part, the sustainable agricultural programme at the Alleyne School will work on various aspects of improving the youth’s knowledge about growing and consuming good, clean healthy foods and I would like to personally commend the support displayed by all of the organisations and individuals who have seen the importance of this initiative.”

Hooper said learning about health, nutrition and sustainability from a young age “is very powerful”.

“When students grow their own food and taste the difference in flavour of food that is grown with only natural inputs there is a shift. With that shift comes a change for a healthier, happier, and cleaner life,” she said.

She said participation such as that of the school’s canteen operator would not only shorten the food chain by using fresher, local foods grown by students, but their commitment will at the same time address its food waste management through composting and recycling programme as well as improve canteen meals and children’s food habits, promoting a healthy and educated future generation. (SC)

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