In 2016, Richmond Vale Academy, an alternative school centered on climate change, began to establish "Pass it On" home gardens in the community of Chateaubelair, North Leeward.
The goals of the "Pass it On" home garden project are many: (1) teach members of the community how to grow their own food using the principles of permanent agriculture or "permaculture"; (2) give families an understanding of permaculture's effectiveness in the fight against climate change; (3) create a structure by which families may both feed themselves as well as support their children through the sales of their surplus crop.
Since the project's implementation, students from around the world, along with the help of their permaculture instructor, Luke Punnett, have been instrumental in teaching members of the community permaculture principles. Twenty different home gardens now exist in the community of Chateaubelair. Recipients of the "Pass it On" home gardens use the concepts they have adopted to teach their friends and neighbours how they too can support themselves and fight the destruction climate change brings to small island communities.
Now that the gardeners are able to more adequately feed their families, they have formed an organization called Family Producers of Organic Food. Through this organization, they aim to hope to promote healthy eating and community development within their villages. One of the ways they hope to promote this development is with the establishment of a Farmer's Market.
Our vision is to create a lively event – Farmer's Market - in which the members of the Chateaubelair community can come together to sell organic produce that they have grown. Papayas, mangoes, avocados, breadfruit, dasheen, cassava, chives, leafy greens and more, are all items one can expect to purchase weekly. Additionally, shoppers will be able to converse with the knowledgeable farmers about permaculture's principles while overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Fishermen will also be welcomed to to dock their boats just outside the market and sell their catch.
Local artists will be welcomed to sell their work while reggae and soca music provide an upbeat backdrop for the ears. Talented cooks will also be present at the market, providing the community, and any visiting tourists, with bowls of Callaloo soup, sorrel juice and coconut sugar cakes.
The Family Producers of Organic Food aims to provide an environment in which their friends and family can join as one in order to create a space in which to discuss issues that affect them, celebrate themselves as farmers and as a people, and promote healthy lifestyle choices. The North Leeward Farmers Market will be just that.
As it currently stands, many people in Saint Vincent do farm. However, it is a minority who are growing (farming) organically. Many use chemical fertilizers in addition to chemical pesticides. The use of these harmful chemicals, accompanied by the over consumption of imported food products, which lack all proper nutrients, create a St. Vincent which: depends on the world; has many unhealthy citizens; contributes to climate change through both transportation and chemical spraying.
So what can be done to change this narrative? Embrace ORGANIC FARMING. Support the "Pass it On" home gardens initiative which promotes both permaculture (a solution to climate change) and economic enterprise. Patronise so as to sustain the Farmers Market in North Leeward that will not only assist the Family Producers of Organic Food in promoting permaculture principles, but will also lead to an overall healthier island community who will be equipped to battle the adverse effects of climate change. (Source: Richmond Vale Academy)