Development Bank’s Credit Risk Management Officer, Mrs Jean Alcendor-Browne with six-year old Junicia Wilkinson who proudly demonstrated how she works using the tyre as the planting receptacle.

A local Rastafari group that elected to introduce organic farming to primary school children earlier this year received support from the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis in its endeavours to fence the farming area to ward off roaming animals that have sometimes destroyed crops.

Nevis-based One Love Rastafari Movement has in the last three years been teaching children of the St. James Primary School how to grow food organically using recycled vehicle tyres as planting receptacles with positive results, according to the organisation’s Co-chair, Mr. Delroy Pinney.

One Love Rastafari Movement organised an open day at the school Tuesday, Oct. 29, for children to show visitors the work they have been doing. The Department of Agriculture and Department of Education in the Nevis Island Administration, the Nevis branch of the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis (DBSKN), and other stakeholders were invited.

Development Bank’s Credit Risk Management Officer at the Nevis Branch, Mrs Jean Alcendor-Browne,  presented the bank’s sponsorship cheque to Mr Pinney in May, noting the institution took the country’s food security seriously by working with farmers to ensure a sustained food production. The bank’s management had applauded the organic food growing project at the St. James Primary School.

“Looking at the wider picture, what the children at the St. James Primary School here in Nevis are being taught bodes well with the Federation’s march towards attaining the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 2,” explained Mrs. Alcendor-Browne. “This goal talks about ending hunger, achieving food security and improving nutrition, and promoting sustainability in agriculture. We at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis salute these children.”

Each of the 37 pupils in the school had been given a tyre to be used as a planting receptacle. More tyres had been provided for teachers and kitchen staff who wanted to catch up with the children in the growing of foodstuffs. Mr. Pinney thanked the staff for supporting the project, and making it work.

“Children are the ones who do the planting and also who do the maintenance,” he explained. “Some of these children would have planted seeds, nurtured the seeds, watch them germinate, take care of those plants, watch the flowers turn into fruits, watch the fruits develop, they were able to pick the fruits, take them to the kitchen and then have it on their lunch plate… that is an experience no text book can teach.”

Mrs Alcendor-Browne mingled with the pupils who showed her what they have been doing. Six-year old Miss Junicia Wilkinson, who is a Grade One pupil, told the bank official that she enjoyed planting string beans, peas and sweet pepper.

Mr Floyd Liburd, Deputy Director in the Department of Agriculture, noted the department was pleased to be associated with the organic farming project at the St. James Primary School, adding that it was the right thing to do. He said over the years the department had worked with schools in terms of school gardens, but those projects  unfortunately fell by the wayside as far as involvement of the children.

“I am hoping that Mr. Pinney could start a revolution in terms of getting our young kids to get involved and really get down into the gardening aspect of things,” said Mr Liburd. “We want other schools to get involved and approach the Department of Agriculture so we could assist in terms of providing technical support and also some seedlings to give a jumpstart.”

School Meals Programme Coordinator in the Department of Education of the Nevis Island Administration, Mrs. Renell Daniel, said it was a happy feeling as children would be eating what they planted, adding it was what the School Meals Programme wants to promote.

“We want children to be aware of where their food comes from, and that food doesn’t just appear on the plate,” she said. “I want to applaud Mr Pinney on behalf of the Department of Education as well as the Ministry of Education for this initiative.”