Category Archives: Agriculture

Update of Training Sessions at the GARD Center

Evening training is currently ongoing at the GARD Center in Beginners Beekeeping sponsored by the Mill Reef Fund and Climate Smart Agriculture with Business Enterprise, Hydroponics and Backyard Gardening funded by the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) and the Sandals Foundation. These training sessions are held at the GARD Center in Mercers Creek from 5:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

During these 14 weeks of Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) training, participants have been involved in Business Enterprise sessions to include Costing and Pricing, Communication & Marketing, Intellectual Property, Business Plan, Parasitology, Budding and Grafting and Vermiculture. These training courses and are now in their sixth week of training and the participants have been engaged in climate smart discussions and vibrant class sessions. As these courses progress, each participant is eagerly looking forward to more practical hands-on training and field work. In the weeks ahead, participants would also engage in Packaging and Labelling, Backyard Gardening and Hydroponics practicals along with field visits. 

Group A – Sponsored by the Sandals Foundation.

Group B- Sponsored by the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG)

Marketing and Communication

Parasitology

Over 30 persons have shown interest in 12 weeks of training in Beginners Beekeeping of whom 25 participants are currently receiving the tools and hands-on training to prepare them to begin their apiaries. Each participant will receive the added component of Business Enterprise to include Packaging and Labelling to develop their brand and business idea. During the training participants have shown great enthusiasm in class sessions and a WhatsApp group was created to share information and ask questions to expand on their knowledge in Beekeeping. Each participant constructed their own bee frames and were outfitted with bee suits to carry out a field visit at the Urlings Primary School to remove a beehive. The bees were safely relocated to bee boxes and the honey extracted from the beehive was refined. The beeswax was used to make lip balm and other products and each participant received a sample.   

12 Weeks of Training in Beginners Beekeeping sponsored by the Mill Reef Fund

Orientation Day

Making Lip Balm with Bee’s Wax

Extracting Honey

Assembling Bee Frames

Using A Bee Smoker

Students watching as how to use the bee smoker is demonstrated.

Field Visit to Urlings Secondary School to Remove Bee Hive

Participants assisted with the removal of a bee hive from the school.

GARD Center Hydroponic Programme for Strengthened Food Production – sponsored by Sandals Foundation

News Release

Youth Hydroponic Programme to Strengthen Community Food Production and Livelihood Opportunities

The GARD Center (Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center) is a grassroot non-profit, non-government organization which operates under the auspices of the Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA).  The Center is very pleased to announce its continuous partnership with the Sandals Foundation through its funding of the “Climate Smart Agriculture For Youth- Hydroponic” Project.

For the past thirty-two (32) years, the Center has been working arduously with at-risk youth, men and women in the community to engage them in various forms of sustainable agriculture for the 21st century.

With a primary focus of raising climate smart agriculture practices amongst young people towards long term food security, the Climate Smart Agriculture for Youth – Hydroponic programme seeks to:

  • Create awareness of the present and future threats related to climate change and agriculture.
  • Make youth aware of the contributions they can make in the agriculture sector for a better future, especially through the application of climate-smart practices in agriculture, during this COVID-19 period.
  • Train a total of 20 youth in hydroponics systems.
  • Build the capacity of participants to construct a hydroponic unit and provide a starter kit to include seeds, rockwool and a water pump.

The programme support forms part of the Sandals Foundation’s 40 sustainable community projects being executed across the Caribbean to commemorate its parent company’s 40th anniversary. Through its broad scale investment in a number of farming and agriculture educational programmes, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts seeks to strengthen the Caribbean’s food security and livelihood opportunities.

About the Sandals Foundation

The Sandals Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International (SRI), the Caribbean’s leading family-owned resort company.  The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization was created to continue and expand upon the charitable work that Sandals Resorts International has undertaken since its founding in 1981 to play a meaningful role in the lives of the communities where SRI operates throughout the Caribbean. The Sandals Foundation funds projects in three core areas: education, community and the environment. One hundred percent of the monies contributed by the general public to the Sandals Foundation go directly to programs benefiting the Caribbean community. To learn more about the Sandals Foundation, visit online at www.sandalsfoundation.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

This partnership is in collaboration with the Agricultural Extension Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).  The GARD Center will expand its Climate Smart Agriculture programme that focuses on Hydroponics systems.

IICA-CBF EbA Project Newsletter 5

Source of Newsletter & collaborates with the GARD Center

Issue Description: In terms of project execution, the month of March was particularly pivotal. It represented both the end of the second year and start of the third and final year of the IICA-CBF EbA project. It also hosted a critical in-country mission of the IICA Soil and Water team to train farmers and technicians on Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) and Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) using a soil-centric approach, while simultaneously planning for the much anticipated training for the communities themselves to be able to operate community drone kits to collect data and monitor project sites.   .

Link to the Newsletter: IICA CBF EbA Newsletter Issue #5 -March 2022

The IICA-CBF Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Project seeks to assist beneficiary Caribbean countries in their efforts to maintain and increase resilience and reduce the vulnerability of ecosystems and people in the face of the adverse effects of climate change.



UN: International Women’s Day 2022

We would like to acknowledge some of the hard-working women who have contributed significantly to the development of the GARD Center over the past years and currently using a poem.

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size   
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,   
The stride of my step,   
The curl of my lips.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,   
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,   
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.   
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.   
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,   
And the flash of my teeth,   
The swing in my waist,   
And the joy in my feet.   
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

IICA-CBF EbA Project Newsletter 4

Source of Newsletter & collaborates with the GARD Center

Link to the Newsletter: IICA CBF EbA Newsletter Issue #4 -Feb 2022

This issue features some of the women involved in IICA-CBF EbA project (N.B. from Antigua: Agriculture Science Teacher & Foreman in EbA project, Karen James and GARD Center’s Executive Director, June Jackson). We hope it provides food for thought to enhance, empower, enable and inspire more and better participation of women in actions for climate adaptation.

The IICA-CBF Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) Project seeks to assist beneficiary Caribbean countries in their efforts to maintain and increase resilience and reduce the vulnerability of ecosystems and people in the face of the adverse effects of climate change.


Creating Conductive Environment for Development of Small Farmers in the Caribbean

Ms. Anika Aska represented GARD Center as a Panelist on United Nations Joint Programme Building Effective Resilience for Human Security in Caribbean Countries: The Imperative of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in a Strengthened Agriculture Sector, is presently being implemented in the countries of Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Lucia. This programme is being implemented by UN Women, UNDP, ILO, and FAO with funding from the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS); very interactive and informative discussion which among regional representatives and specialists. (See the video below.)

UNDP Sponsors Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Course for Youth

“Climate Smart Agriculture for Youth – Hydroponics:  The Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center (GARD Center) has been awarded the above-mentioned project, and the contract was signed on 3 December 2021, in the amount of US$15,000.00.   The Center is truly grateful for this timely donation and the opportunity to partner with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).   

The major aim of this project is to ensure the integration of sustainable livelihoods in the face of climate change.   This Course is geared to train 10 persons between the ages of 17 – 35 years with CSA techniques in mulching; composting; no-dig beds, etc.  In addition these participants will have the opportunity to go on Field visits to see how established gardeners operate.  The participants will also get to construct mini-hydroponic units which can be used as either a Deep Water Culture (DWC) or Kratky unit.  A Business component will also be taught, with the anticipation that the soon-to-be Backyard Farmers would be in a position to provide quality food for not only their families but also to the community.

Once again, the GARD Center would like to thank the UNDP for investing in the improvement of Livelihoods of the Vulnerable Youth in Antigua and Barbuda.”

Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) – GARD Center Climate Smart Agricultural Training

Supported by

The GARD Center continues to thank the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) for its support in the training of Women in Climate Smart Agricultural technologies with a focus on hydroponics and the blanching and freezing of vegetables in preparation for the dry season and the shortage of food.

This project has become increasingly more vital and timely as the year 2021 continued to unfold, with the delay in the supply chain universally.  Things worsened for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the turn of the year 2022 with the rumours of war, between Russia and Ukraine.  It seemed as though the world’s focus almost forgot about the COVID-19 pandemic which had thrown most of the world in a tailspin from early 2020, (and continues) with lockdowns and supply interruptions.

Although by the first quarter of 2022, government restrictions have slowly been lifted in Antigua and Barbuda, with the business sector starting to re-open, some women have still not been able to return to full time employment in the service industry due to the reduction of occupancy in many hotels and the cruise ship sector mainly operating at 50%.  The CFLI has been instrumental as the backbone of developing backyard garden plots and a demonstration hydroponic unit for trainees to get hands-on practice during this aspect of the training.  A few crops have been pre-planted for the Blanching and Freezing component of the course, etc.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues with various strains circulating; and health protocols put in place continue to change constantly, the actual start of the training component had to be deferred on several occasions.  The training course has started. Over the 25 women who showed interest in training in 2021, when the protocols ‘settled’ and training was ready to begin in January 2022, the Center had to delay the start date due to some women having restarted work during the day and would then have prefered evening sessions.  The recruitment drive continued.