A diary of a week and a half at Richmond Vale academy

Since we arrived to the Caribbean time just keeps flying. Every day, every minute here brings new surprises. When I start thinking what we have done so far I get amazed by everything we did in so little time.

As we arrived Saturday late in the night, Sunday was just a day to chill on the beach and get to know the amazing surroundings of the school; forest fruit garden, chicken tractor, organic vegetable garden, horses, friendly pigs, and of course the lively ocean full of corals and beautiful fish that surrounds the closest beach.

When we went to the beach, we took some of the exotic fruit with us that we had harvested from the fruit garden. The first thing I did was to jump from a cliff and swim around with diving glasses. I can’t describe this awesome experience that embraced me when I was immersed in the light blue water full of life and amazing creatures.

You just need to go there and witness it yourself The sun was strong and we already got burnt so the afternoon we rested, getting ready for the next day was going to be incredible tough as well.

On Day Two we went to investigate the origin of this unbelievable island, the Volcano! As I said before, it was a tough but amazing experience since that time we had the opportunity to discover the tropical dense and moist jungle of Saint Vincent, full of mangos.

I could only stare at some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen in my life all the way to the Volcano which was well worth the trip. It was amazing to get close to an active volcano and be able to go down and see it close. I must confess it is astonishing and scary at the same time. Indeed something I will never forget. As the times goes on we start working with climate change actions.

On Tuesday we joined a common action in which we had the opportunity to work a bit in the garden and see how they manage. They really have a huge and beautiful organic vegetable garden that makes you feel more and more captivated and relaxed as you keep working on it. That day we were also cleaning the surroundings and I got a chance to see a snake (it seemed that this was a very rare thing since most of the people here had never seen one) and a scorpion! I loved to see them. In the afternoon we went with one of the locals to see the effect of climate change on Saint Vincent and how the natural disasters they have faced such as flooding and hurricanes have devastated many places here.

We also had the a chance to talk with the locals and hear their experiences of the destruction. On Wednesday we started the building week with plenty of amazing actions aiming to make a sustainable school. We were preparing batteries to store energy coming from solar panel, putting up 27 solar panels and building a water reservoir with 200.000 litre capacity to store rainwater that we can use in the garden.

This building week took place from Wednesday to Saturday and we divided ourselves into group so each of us was working in different areas in order to organize and achieve goals. At the end of the working week we decided we could chill a bit in one of the water falls close by; Balice Falls.

So we took the boat and we went there to enjoy another of the wonderful natural gifts that Saint Vincent has. This time we went with some locals, we enjoyed local music, some jumping down the waterfall and some swimming. It was, as usual, a trip to remember forever. Monday is here again, the week just flew away, and then it´s time to prepare for the farmers market! The Farmers market is a project we are doing with the community to improve the local economy and establish a facility where locals can sell their produce without investing time, effort and money by moving all the way to the city.

The idea is for the farmers to sell their harvest locally, allowing everyone the possibility to make their shopping in a comfortable way without travelling far or waiting for the traders to come back from the city.

Many locals just simply cannot move because it is too expensive or the ones who can end up with smashed vegetables and a lot of energy and strength spent bringing back this food. So the whole Monday we were out, talking to people, promoting the farmers market, talking about Moringa and its benefits, etc. Some of our team-mates went to the radio and we can say so far it was very successful since people are very interested and we reached many through the radio broadcast.

Tuesday we had common action and we were working in the garden, using the compost to give more power to the small seedlings, making mulch, covering the crops with it and learning a lot about compost system. It was very relaxing indeed. Being in the garden feels like meditating and it is also very productive since we had to make everything ready to host some kids who were going to visit our school the day after.

On Wednesday we finalized with one task we started on Monday about 9 planetary boundaries that affect climate change, so we presented to each other. It was very interesting to see how a wide range of elements are connected and how much is in our hands to change. After that we were reading an article about a Saint Vincentian scientist, Dr Reynold Murray who came later that day to give a presentation about the situation in Saint Vincent, regarding climate change and its effect on the island.

How people, business and politics affect it in different ways. It was very interesting. One of the data that surprised me the most was about the amount of fertilizers and pesticides that they use here (mostly with banana plants), and how the planes which release those pesticides are polluting the whole island. He said Saint Vincent is using 15 times more pesticides in their crop than US does in the same amount of land.

After that we had 30 kids visiting our school and having fun around. After our teacher meeting I was with the headmaster of the school in a wetland area close to the beach, the only one at Saint Vincent. That area has been protected by the government together with teachers and students of Richmond Vale Academy since a huge flood almost destroyed it.

So in order to preserve the area and strengthen the soil they have been planting mangroves, Neem trees and other trees which can cope with the conditions of the place while reinforcing the stability of the soil due to long deep roots. Thursday we have been cleaning around in the surroundings to make it look nice. We had the opportunity to meet Luke and his family.

This man is teaching permaculture here and he has his own permaculture garden that we will visit and volunteer in for an investigation week. The last event I will write about is being in the local town again to promote the farmers market, talking with people and getting to know the community. Now everything seems to be almost ready for the Farmers Market on Saturday.

We just need to set up tables and tarp to so people can make their stand for the grand opening. So tomorrow we will go to the city to visit and make some shopping and we will also take part in leaving everything ready for Saturday morning to assist and organise the farmers.

The Lindersvold Climate Team in St. Vincent

By Vanessa


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A diary of a week and a half at Richmond Vale academy

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