Category Archives: News

GARD Center Congratulates Mill Reef Fund on 75 Years of Service to Antigua and Barbuda

GARD Center salutes the Mill Reef Fund on its 75th Anniversary for all of the incredible work it has committed to and achieved in Antigua and Barbuda.  During these years the Center has been tremendously blessed by the generosity of the Fund which has allowed it to positively meet the needs of our clientele, the vulnerable in its community (At-risk Youth and Women) and the mandate to train.

When COVID-19 arrived on the shores of Antigua and Barbuda in March 2020, the country was placed under complete lockdown by the government and health protocols were enforced.  Many people, especially women and youth in the workforce were severely displaced.  The  Mill Reef Fund contributed significantly to the retraining and re-tooling of persons residing in this twin island state.   As the government slowly allowed for the reopening of the Country internally with its citizens/ residents and its borders to the wider community, many people, especially in the Hospitality industry were out of work and experienced hardships in feeding themselves and their families.  

The GARD Center saw this as an opportunity to offer training and /or retraining to members of various communities.  This mission was fulfilled by grant funds received from the Mill Reef Fund to conduct Climate Smart Agriculture courses with focus on Backyard Gardening and Hydroponics; as well as, Sewing Courses for Beginners.  These courses were selected because the unemployed could quickly learn a skill and earn an income.  Different Cohorts of training had to be undertaken to observe the rapidly changing Health Protocols.  47 Participants graduated from the CSA training courses (26 M, 21 F).  One female has started her own Hydroponics farm and sells her produce. She has also developed other products from the harvesting of her backyard garden. (pepper sauce, etc.).  Her husband works closely with her and now constructs hydroponic units for sale. 

49 Participants completed the Beginners Sewing courses with 47 F and 2 M graduating.  A 27-year old male who graduated has continued to develop his sewing skills and is now enrolled at Antigua and Barbuda Institute of Continuing Education (ABICE).  This gentleman designed and created the Wedding dress for this year’s annual ABS Valentine Wedding ceremony.

Ralstan Hughes, Designer & Creator of the 2022 Valentine’s Wedding Gown working in GARD Center’s Sewing Class

Many of the graduates continue to flourish with their knowledge honed and are able to earn an income.

In addition, in 2020, the Mill Reef Fund provided Care Packages to 50 graduates of the Center (single mothers) for 6 months.  This benevolent gesture was extremely well received by all.

Single Mothers Care Packages Distribution

The Mill Reef Fund continued to serve this nation in 2021 when funding was received by the GARD Center to conduct Remarkable Hospitality and Customer Service Training as well as Basic Baking, Decorating and Food Preparation Courses.  A total of 18 people graduated, (14 F and 4 M).

Sincere thanks to the Mill Reef Fund for partnering with our Center in its delivery and upliftment of the Youth of this nation.

For More information on the Mill Reef Fund visit:
Mill Reef Fund | Improving the lives of the people of Antigua and Barbuda since 1948

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.



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.

CFLI Sponsors Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) Course for Women ages 17 – 50

Supported by

The Canada Fund Local Initiatives (CFLI) approved and made a generous donation to the GARD Center on 27 August 2021, in the amount of EC$62,946.00 to train 20 women between the ages of 17 – 50 years in Climate Smart Agricultural (CSA) technologies.  This will train them to use their backyards and small spaces to grow food both in soil and hydroponically, to feed their families and to sell to markets, as agricultural entrepreneurs.

This grant funding will cover topics to include Composting; Integrated Pest Management; Water Conservation; Mulching, etc.  Each participant will build a mini hydroponic unit for their homes.  They will also be trained to process vegetables for freezing, that is standard, quality control, etc.  Sessions will also include life-skills, enterprise development and management.  Some vegetables will be harvested from the GARD Center Demonstration unit, as well as from the participants’ home plots.  A quantity of fresh produce will be used for blanching and freezing to develop an added value product.

The long term expected results of this Initiative will produce 20 women with backyard gardens and hydroponic units which will generate income for their families through the production of frozen vegetables.

Once again, the GARD Center wishes to sincerely thank the CFLI for this grant to empower the women of Antigua and Barbuda.

Donation to Frontline Workers

Staff at Hana Thomas Hospital (Barbuda) receiving protective gear from the GARD Center.

The Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center (GARD Center) donates surgical gowns and masks to Public Health Nurse Supervisor, in the East Area of Antigua, and Hana Thomas Hospital in Barbuda. Mr. John Mussington, GARD Center’s Board Member who resides in Barbuda made the presentation. To date, the Center has donated 40 masks and 16 gowns.  These gifts were made possible due to the generous donation of a Mill Reef Fund sponsored project in 2020, to train Beginners to sew.  During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center was able to offer a skill by training and/or retraining  some persons who were laid off.

In addition, another partner donated a large amount of Sterilization Wrap material to the Center for the construction of Facial Masks and Surgical Gowns. 

Many thanks to all of our generous donors who have made it possible for the Center to give back to the Frontline Workers in the Community.

Health care worker (Antigua) receiving protection gear from Mrs. June Jackson the Executive Director of the GARD Center


Executive Director Awarded Scholarship

Recently our Executive Director Mrs. June Jackson received a paid scholarship for non-profit organizations. The scholarship gave recipients free access to a webinar that focused on fundraising activities such as grants, special events, in-kind donations and online fundraising . Mrs. Jackson attended the webinar and is very grateful for the opportunity that was given to her. Below is an image of the scholarship announcement and a screenshot from the webinar.

Facebook Announcement of Mrs. June Jackson being awarded the scholarship.
Screenshot of the Webinar hosted by Pastor Victoria Burse

Thank You to The Mill Reef Fund

They are those that even in tough times they are there.
The Mill Reef Fund has shown their commitment in a time when the entire world is being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020. During this time their support of initiatives at the GARD Center has continued and has helped many families in Antigua & Barbuda in their time of need. For this the GARD Center wishes to express its appreciation to the Mill Reef Fund for their continual care and support.

Press Release: Beginners Sewing Course Completion Ceremony and Exhibition

GARD Center tells the journey of the Beginners Sewing course that came into existence during COVID-19 season. The Center is very excited to have seventeen (17) of twenty (20) participants completing the training experience.
Once again, we genuinely express our gratitude to the Mill Reef Fund for its invaluable donation for the success of this course. This afforded the participants an opportunity to be able to venture into a sewing for sustainable provision for their families.
Our sincerest thanks to our other partners NSA for its contribution of materials for sewing masks and surgical gowns that is of great necessity in this Corona Virus season where there is mandatory mask wearing. Additionally, Amiya Designs and Andra’s Designs for imparting the sewing skills necessary to produce the items that were on display on Friday, September 18th, 2020 (pictures attached). We were truly blessed by an anonymous donor of six (6) sewing machines which was greatly a need and appreciated. This made an indelible mark on the course.
To our supporters including the National Garment Manufacturing Initiative and the Ministry of Trade for their continued assistance in our new venture.

Download or Open Pdf: Press Release Document in PDF format