Plan For A Community Garden In Every Parish

July 24, 2020 | 5 Comments

“Government is fully committed to doing its part to aid in boosting the growth of the agriculture industry,” Minister of Public Works David Burch said, adding that “the plan is to establish a Community Garden in every Parish.”

Speaking in the House of Assembly today [July 24] the Minister said, “We aim to ensure the public is aware of future sites that will soon be available – so they can become involved.

“Various plots will be open and available to the general public and very little experience is required to become involved. All that is needed is a love for your community and a desire to feed our own. It’s clear that each garden must have a leader, ideally from the neighbourhood who is passionate about gardening who will be the driving force to making it a success.

“There are a number of new sites on the horizon – currently there are two sites competing to come online next – Avocado Lodge Park [at the top of Corkscrew Hill], which is currently being cleared of brush & evasive trees and the TN Tatem Community Partners Garden which has been cleared and prepared for mapping out of the plots.

“Tatem is being led by boxer Nikki Bascome with assistance from the Blakeneys. There is also support from the other community partners at Tatem as well and several neighbours from Stadium Lane who have put in their requests already for plots.

“There are three other sites on the horizon – Southlands East, a plot at Tudor Farm and St. David’s Community Garden at Lord’s.

“So if there are interested persons willing to lead any of these sites – please come forward and volunteer so they can become operative in short order. As I stated earlier – these types of projects must be led by persons who have a passion for gardening. Please contact Jameka Smith Acting Park Planner at the Department of Parks to express your interest.”

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good Morning, Mr. Speaker, in the Government’s 2017 Platform we outlined the following in relation to arable land and community gardens.

Firstly to – “Lease the many acres of government arable land that are currently not being used in order to boost domestic food production. The incentive is to modernize the equipment used to boost productivity and make the domestic industry more profitable” and to:

“Promote and develop community gardens that can assist in meeting the needs of the less fortunate in our community.”

Mr. Speaker, the government owns 38 plots of arable/ farm land across the island. I am pleased to report that 32 of these plots are currently leased, 3 are in legal disputes over ownership, 2 are presently out to tender and the final plot will shortly be put out to tender.

Mr. Speaker, this government has demonstrated its commitment to farming by both formalizing lease renewals and providing longer leases so that farmers have security of tenure and thus the ability to gain loans for equipment, machinery and improvements. As an example the lease for Westover Farm was renewed in May last year – for 21 years. I think that is a clear demonstration of our commitment.

Turning now to community gardens Mr. Speaker, everyone will be familiar with the longest established and most well-known Crow Lane Community Garden. This garden was established in 1984 and continues to flourish to this day. This is a perfect example of a project that leads to a wider Community collaboration well beyond gardening.

Mr. Speaker, the garden has been led by Dr. Gloria & Mr. Rawle Frederick from the very beginning in 1984, an incredible 36 year journey that clearly demonstrates their passion and they have not been selfish with sharing that knowledge with all those who have sought their advice. I spoke to Mr. Frederick this week to pick his brain, something I do on a regular basis and was delighted to learn that a rest home were bringing some of their seniors to tour the garden – they welcome groups all the time. I would like to publically thank The Frederick’s for their many years of commitment and dedication to this magnificent project.

Government is fully committed to doing its part to aid in boosting the growth of the agriculture industry. The plan is to establish a Community Garden in every Parish. We aim to ensure the public is aware of future sites that will soon be available – so they can become involved. Various plots will be open and available to the general public and very little experience is required to become involved. All that is needed is a love for your community and a desire to feed our own. It’s clear that each garden must have a leader, ideally from the neighbourhood who is passionate about gardening who will be the driving force to making it a success.

Mr. Speaker, before the pandemic, we established a community garden at Gibbs Hill Lighthouse Park and this has proven to be very successful and well received by the Southampton community. It has now been named ‘Serenity Garden’ and is managed by the husband & wife team – Mr. Dave and Mrs. Jocille Blakeney.

They have been unrelenting in pushing for this to happen and have been instrumental with teaming up with various Government Departments to push the plan forward. I’d specifically like to thank Jameka Smith [Acting Park Planner] and Stephen Furbert [Senior Superintendent] for all their assistance in getting the garden started.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of new sites on the horizon – currently there are two sites competing to come online next – Avocado Lodge Park [at the top of Corkscrew Hill], which is currently being cleared of brush & evasive trees and the TN Tatem Community Partners Garden which has been cleared and prepared for mapping out of the plots. Tatem is being led by boxer Nikki Bascome with assistance from the Blakeney’s. There is also support from the other community partners at Tatem as well and several neighbours from Stadium Lane who have put in their requests already for plots.

There are three other sites on the horizon – Southlands East, a plot at Tudor Farm and St. David’s Community Garden at Lord’s.

So if there are interested persons willing to lead any of these sites – please come forward and volunteer so they can become operative in short order. As I stated earlier – these types of projects must be led by persons who have a passion for gardening. Please contact Jameka Smith Acting Park Planner at the Department of Parks to express your interest.

Mr. Speaker, separately, it should be noted that not much land is required to create your own back yard garden. We know this to be so from the number of requests we’ve had for mulch from Marsh Folly. So much so that over the last few weeks we have been delivering truckloads of mulch to both Serenity and Tatem as well as to several community areas that are available for collection from various neighbourhood sites such as Purvis Primary, Government Gate, Devonshire Community Garden and Death Valley Field.

We are available to deliver to other parts of the island in support of the Covid Home Gardens. Members of the public can simply speak to their Member of Parliament and he/she will make the necessary arrangements for a community drop location in your neighborhood. Anyone can help themselves to the mulch or if they choose – they can collect it from Marsh Folly – 24 hours a day and it’s free – follow the signs – it is literally at the entrance to Marsh Folly.

Mr. Speaker, I have asked the Director of Parks to incorporate within the registry of community gardens a process whereby we can record production output which we can share with the community as well as generate data for our own records. I would also like to invite those private landowners who have unused plots of land that is suitable for a community garden to consider creating one. Again, the Department of Parks will be more than willing to lend a hand in getting it organized.

Mr. Speaker, I live near Lighthouse Hill and have seen that project develop from an over grown, weed infested piece of land to the spectacular garden it is today as well as the community benefit of neighbours interacting and working positively together. I again wish to thank the Blakeney’s for being the driving force behind making it a reality.

Thank You, Mr. Speaker.

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Comments (5)

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  1. sage says:

    Evasive trees? They must be giving government the silent treatment when questioned or they just uproot themselves and take off.

  2. Mr. Ed says:

    Can someone remind me which license I would need to grow cannabis at one of these sites?

  3. Now Ya Nice says:

    I like this idea but why cant Dept of Parks / AG & Fish or whatever it is now called manage this? Why are they requesting people to manage it. That department is overstaffed and we all know they are not taking care of places like Botanical Gardens or any of the other parks on the island. The Botanical Gardens has been such an embarrassment for decades now. It used to be a place where people went for wedding photos and was a place the taxi drivers would drive thru with tourists so they could see all the beautiful flowers.

    • Abominable Snowman says:

      You must take into consideration the last hurricane and Covid-19 being a factor into the state of the Botanical Gardens.

    • They have to manage all the schools and Govt. property, and further more this is a COMMUNITY effort which is a good idea, we critisize when Communities have social problems but yet dont give credit when they are doing somethin positive.
      PATHETIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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