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.



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.

Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021

GEW Antigua and Barbuda 2021 (8th – 14th Nov, 2021)

Lead up to Entrepreneurship Week Antigua and Barbuda

Leading up to the entrepreneurship week the GARD Center took time to recognize the accomplishments of four entrepreneurs operating right here in Antigua and Barbuda. These four individuals have already using their skills and ideas to make a variety of products from interior decorations to delicious smoothies.

Image showing flyer recognizing the four young local entrepreneurs.

The Global entrepreneurship week started on Monday November 8th and went to the November 14th.

Day 1 Promotions

Promotion launch for the events were ongoing to make entrepreneurs aware of the weeks activities.

Day 2 Startup Huddle

This was organized by Elijah James who along with guest host Ashante Lindsay owner of Guilty Consumptions discussed some of the opportunities available to persons looking to start a business. Opportunities explored in the discussion included networking, business support organizations, accelerators and having mentors. A very informative session that wet the appetite for the rest of the week.

Visit www.startuphuddle.app

Day 3 Let’s Talk Business Event – Clare Hall Secondary School

Mrs. Brazier talking with P.O.B. fifth form students of the Clare Hall Sec School

Entrepreneur of Mrs. Brazier co-owner of Shaade Hydroponics had a talk with the Principle of Business students from the Clare Hall Secondary School. The students got an insight into what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. Mrs. Brazier let the students know that being an entrepreneur means having to make some sacrifices but the experience can be very rewarding in the long run.

Day 4 Let’s Talk Business Event- The GARD Center

Ms. Sasha Jarvis a representative from the ACB Caribbean(Antigua Commercial Bank Ltd.) spoke to the GARD Center students of the “Remarkable Hospitality Course”. This educational session covered the topics of budgeting, investing, credit management and other useful related topics. The students were appreciative of the session and look forward to using the knowledge they would have gained from the session.

Day 5 Fun Walk

The GARD Center organization celebrated 32 Years and celebrated Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021 (Antigua & Barbuda) with a Fun Walk. An early energetic morning walk in celebration.



Day 6 Entrepreneur Breakfast and Exhibition


On the Saturday some of the local entrepreneurs were invited to an breakfast webinar that took place at the GARD Center. The entrepreneurs listened and interacted via Zoom to tips and information from entrepreneurial experts Dr. Marcia Brandon of COESL in Barbados and Pastor Victoria Burse of ARC International Atlanta.

Students of GARD Center’s Hospitality course served the entrepreneurs utilizing training from the program.

During the breakfast the entrepreneurs were awarded certificates for their achievements. The four young entrepreneurs which were during the week leading up to the event were given gifts along with their certificates.

After the breakfast the entrepreneurs were able to showcase their various products and services in the exhibition part of the event.

Day 7 Church Service – Ebenezer Methodist Church

A closing of the Global Entrepreneurship Week 8th-14th November 2021 was held at the Ebenezer Methodist Church, St. Marys’ Street. Executive Director Mrs. June Jackson spoke during the service.

Executive Director Mrs. June Jackson speaking to congregation