AGROFEST and our youth
In our last article looking at the impact of AGROFEST on our community, the spotlight was on farming and agriculture and what indeed can be produced if a bit more attention is paid to these sectors. This week our focus is on the influence this most amazing festival has on our youth.
A visit to Queen’s Park on the Friday morning, which is dedicated to schools, clearly reveals the impact on our children. Thousands of our nation’s youth converge on the Park, braving the sweltering morning heat to visit the booths and stalls. They get to experience the best of produce and products, as they are the first to view the exhibition and experience the animals and birds at their freshest.
It is difficult to curb their excitement, in what can only be described as very controlled chaos, as the impact of such a large number of children in such a location is almost intimidating to us adults. Credit must be given here to the organizers of AGROFEST and the teachers that accompany the students on this outing, because over the past 12 years I have never heard of an incident resulting from so many young people being in one location at the same time.
These young people are not only there to view the exhibition, but they are also a part of the event, as one of the things that AGROFEST offers is competitions for schools and the youth, all designed to introduce them to the agricultural sector.
There are various performances highlighting our nation’s youth, as they are only too happy to expose their talents and achievements at this annual event. Another interesting activity under the AGROFEST umbrella is the Kitchen Garden competition, where judges and officials visit the gardens of participating schools. The students would have been involved in the planting of fruits and vegetables for this competition and
receive very attractive prizes as just reward for the care and attention given to the produce.
Also added this year for the education of the youth is an African Heritage Culinary Competition, which will be judged on Friday morning. The young people are also encouraged to pay attention to their health through activities such as the fruit eating competition and aerobic sessions in which they can participate and which are all designed for them by the organizing committee.
They will also get to see glimpses of their heritage, as on the main stage there will be the African Heritage Concert through which they can start to link to their present way of speech, dance and dress to an origin.
New entertainment for the children this year will be the Ole Time Bajan Olympics, where the students get to take part in traditional Bajan sports such as the Hoola Hoop, limbo, the lime and spoon and obstacle course races, among others.
So, AGROFEST on that Friday is therefore not only a place for our youth to go to see vegetables, plants, fruit and animals, but it is a place for them to trace their history and be exposed to their heritage in a fun-filled day of activities.
The Junior Duelling Challenge (JDC) is another key component of AGROFEST and has been in place since its inception. It has now become one of the most visited events of the festival, with this competition taking place over the second two days of AGROFEST, that being Saturday and Sunday.
This JDC competition is an event for which you must be early to even gain entry to the tent under which it is presented, as patrons can be seen sitting sometimes hours before the scheduled start just to be sure that they can witness the spectacle. In this competition the students get an opportunity to show adults, as well as the event organizers, all of the interesting and exciting things that can be produced from our local products and produce, as they skillfully prepare dishes from a mystery basket of proteins provided by local farmers. All of the produce for this event is also gathered from the numerous stalls and trays in the Park, making it a 100% Bajan production.
This is the ideal time for visitors to our island, and yes, owners and managers of our hotels and restaurants, to see what can be done with our local products. You will be amazed at what these students produce and the creations that emanate from the imagination of these young minds. This is yet another of the impacts this agriculture festival has on our society as our nation’s youth, through this event, get to show-off their culinary and communication skills, as well as their ability to perform under tremendous pressure under the lights and gaze of hundreds of eyes, as the production is recorded for broadcast on local and regional television.
In the next edition, we will feature the actual food of the festival and what AGROFEST is doing for the development of our caterers, food providers and everyone else involved in this sector.
For our recipes this week, we have two ground-beef dishes which are prepared with 100% local beef and yes, it makes a difference, as the flavor and texture of the products made from this beef is far different from that of its imported family.
COUNTRY-STYLE MEAT LOAF
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb of minced pork
4 ozs beef stock
4 ozs tomato ketchup
4 ozs onions, chopped fine
1/4 tsp of scotch bonnet pepper, chopped fine
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh marjoram, chopped
1 tsp fresh chives, chopped
1 pod garlic, chopped
Salt to taste
1. In a large bowl, place all ingredients and mix well
2. In a greased loaf pan, place mixture, packed to about two-thirds of the way
3. Brush the top with oil or melted margarine
4. Bake at 350 F until firm to the touch and loaf slightly leaves the side of the pan
5. Turn on to a wire rack, cool and slice
SPICY BAJAN MEATBALLS
2 lbs lean ground beef
8 ozs beef fat or 2.5 lbs of ground untrimmed beef
4 ozs breadcrumbs
4 ozs water
6 ozs onion, minced
1 oz fresh parsley, chopped
1 oz fresh chives, chopped
1 oz fresh thyme, chopped
2 pods garlic, minced
1/4 tsp Scotch Bonnet pepper, finely chopped
2 ozs tomato ketchup
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice
Salt to taste
1. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well by hand
2. Shape into 4” patties and place on a pan a refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
(Please be sure not to over-mix, especially if using hands, as heat will be transmitted to ingredients, resulting in change of colour and loss of liquid)
(Peter Edey is a Certified Executive Chef with the American Culinary Federation, a graduate of l’École Ritz Escoffier, Paris and a Certified Caribbean Hospitality Trainer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)