…if you follow the Leeward Highway in St Vincent (fancy name for the only main road) you will sooner or later reach Wallilabou where normally the people stop and visit a very well-known place because a few years ago that was the place, where a big crew made the movie "The pirates of the Caribbean". Famous place for pirate fans. You can still find some signs of the movie, leftover buildings and some nice spots where you can park with your yacht if you have one or find people who all know very well Johnny Deep personally. It was a big moment at a place where people normally never stop. Busy road, all day long vans pass from one or the other direction not giving much attention to the ex-movie scene.
But there is something else going on, maybe a little bit quieter, probably less fancy but more significant on long term. A movement that put this place on the map, on another kind of map. A map where you can see where these people are living who are capable to grow, their own food, become independent from the imported food industry, generate some income, eat healthier, shortly live better-quality life. Who is doing this? 23 people from the Richmond Vale Academy are working for weeks building 20 home gardens around the area, the other side of the road. They are following a vision to make the families independent from the phenomenon of imported food out of their control. Another driving force is to show a new way of gardening based on permaculture technics and philosophy. No chemical treatment, the pure organic way is the way to make the families healthier. The action is carrying many values, students around the world are living and working together with the local community, so there is a huge cultural impact, and the new knowledge gives a nice future perspective to the people, even though many of them are farmers, but the permaculture technic is new to them. It is a process, not happening from one day to another.
First, the students make plans together with the garden owners, ask them how many hours they can spend in the garden, what kind of vegetables and fruits they want, after all these questions and meetings they agree on the final plan.
The gardens are pretty, very individual, you cannot find two similar ones. The owners and the students are working together in optimal cases, there is always room for small changes and extra wishes. The importance of the program to change the consumerist's habits, the island imports 65%, which shows how fragile this system is. Every garden, every own production will change this high number slowly, year after year. So on the other side of the road a mom held her 2 years old child and said "I don't want to let the students go away because we love them so much". Probably these personal connections will guarantee the success of the garden, it is not just to receive something, it is based on feelings, memories, hard work, visions, understanding and last but not least results. The gardens are there, probably a few of them will fail but this is how it is, the rest will prove the importance of this movement. The plan is to monitor these gardens in the future, make workshops so not letting people alone. I think this movement is very important even though it is not coming from the people but like recipient and participants they will all benefit from it!
So maybe one day a bus will arrive full of tourists and the guide will say, look at the other side of the road, you can see a small market where people are selling their own production, this village is capable growing their own food, the statistics show they are healthier and they can spend the extra money earned on other things or build up savings for the future. It all started with a vision and with few students around the world. Oh yes, I almost forgot, this was the place for the Pirates of the Caribbean once upon a time ….