Tag Archives: antiguaandbarbuda

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.

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

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.

GARD Center – IICA Press Release: Vetiver Planting Training Session

Open or Download: Press Release Document in PDF format

Screenshot from the online training session showing participants.

Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center (GARD Center) through Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) local office on Antigua partnered with the IICA-CBF EbA Project to support the implementation of Vetiver solutions through the development of nurseries in Antigua and Barbuda.

Open or Download: Press Release Document in PDF format