How About Urban Vegetable Gardens For Barbados?

caracas-urban-garden-barbados.jpg

Temas Blog Tells Of Urban Gardening Experiment In Venezuela

As most of our BFP readers know, we’re not big fans of dictatorships, communist governments or cradle to grave socialism. Nor do we support social structures that destroy individual initatives and profits. (editor’s note: to see what Cliverton really thinks about communists, read his BFP articles: A VCR Travels From Barbados To Cuba – In Vain and Celebrating Castro’s Birthday In New York City.)

Now that Hugo Chavez has shut down Venezuela’s political and media opposition and declared himself Supreme Dictator, President for Life and King of Scotland (wink wink), it is unlikely that BFP will be supporting many new developments from this dictatorship.

But we still try to keep open minds when we see something that makes sense.

Keith Ripley’s Temas Blog is carrying a story about an experiment in organic urban gardening that is underway in Caracas, Venezuela. One phrase caught our attention…

Classes are held at this “Organoponico Bolivar” to teach students and anyone else interested in organic and urban growing techniques they can replicate at home.

Good idea!

When I was studying in Cuba, I saw that every school has a vegetable garden. Cubans learn early in life how to garden and to develop an appreciation of how much produce can had from a well-tended small plot. When the crop is ready, the harvest is divided up and sent home with the students.

How much better things could be on Barbados if every home and every school had some size of vegetable garden.

Head on over to Temas Blog for some ideas and a link to a BBC photo essay on the Caracas gardens.

Story Link – Temas Blog: Organic Urban Gardens In Caracas

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24 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Environment, Island Life

24 responses to “How About Urban Vegetable Gardens For Barbados?

  1. titilayo

    Thanks for this article, I often, as I travel through the urban and peri-urban areas, think that this might be a good idea for Barbados. There are similar gardens in the UK and Canada, where a piece of urban-suburban land is divided up into plots/allotments, where participants can grow crops of their choice, and I believe workshops and so on are provided to develop agricultural skills. I am sure there are plots of land now covered with weeds and grass and vines in Barbados that could be used for this. I would love to see the revival of the good old Bajan kitchen garden.

  2. Satellite John

    It is amazing to look at 1951 aerial photos of Barbados and the current Google Earth images.

    There was a time when Barbados was a garden, it even received mention in a National Geographic issue.

    Colin Hudson would always speak about this, it was what attracted him to make his life here.

  3. Well, I’m glad something at The Temas Blog finally caught your fancy! LOL Too bad I can’t really take credit for it — I was simply pointing to the BBC’s work. 😦 On the bright side, word has it that the BBC photo essay got alot more hits after I posted about it…

    I too am not a fan of Chavez and his governing style and rhetoric (and even many of his policies in the fields I cover), but when I see an idea that has merit and it’s being practiced in Latin America and the Caribbean, or easily could be, I point it out, in spite of the political background noise. And urban gardens — especially ones used to teach people to tend the environment, gain some food self-sufficiency, learn organic growing methods, composting and vermiculture, while perhaps lending some beauty to an otherwise rock- or trash-strewn urban landscape — are something I have long favored, whether in Caracas, São Paulo, Santo Domingo, New York, Mexico City, London or Tokyo.

    FYI, since I can’t seem to get you interested in guest blogging at the Temas Blog, I plan to post soon a brief about your landfill controversy coverage and urge people to check out the BFP blog for more details. While not ideal (I still hold out hope of getting a guest blog from you guys about some Barbados-based environment issue), it may at least give the controversy a slightly broader spotlight, and I’ll cross my fingers that helps! Oh, and if anyone has some good pictures of that would help stir interest in the issue — such as those of the current dump, and those of the proposed area that demonstrate its unsuitability — and bring readers to read about it here at BFP, please send them along to temasblog@temasactuales.com I give credit for the photo owner in my posts when asked to do so, so don’t be shy.
    Best Regards,
    Keith

  4. Tuareg.

    Bajans are about consuming, not the other thing.
    Good luck getting Bajans to get all hot and sweaty, doing actual work!

    This great idea would NEVER work, unless desperation set in.
    De Days of agriculture DONE.
    IMPORT, even if it costs us an arm and a leg!

  5. Walker

    I was most impressed with this idea, and would love to see a similar garden somewhere in bridgetown. I remember that my head teacher at St. Annes primary school in St. Joseph used to “keep’ a kitchen garden which all of the students worked at least one period per day and the the proceeds of the sales were used to pay for school excursions and to buy uniforms for those of us who missed school because we didn’t have uniforms.

  6. Wry Mongoose

    Urban gardens are a good idea, as is the concept of fruitscaping – in the context of Barbados. The idea behind fruitscaping is that trees and plants that bear fruits, are spices, or have medicinal value … can be used ornamentally.

    One application that comes to mind would be the case where government gives permission for a large development – such as for a golf course, or what obtains up the Lakes. Since arable land is being lost to development, and hundreds of thousands of $$ will be spent to landscape the space – why not select mango trees, limes, Bajan cherry – which are every bit as beautiful. An arch or arbour could carry a passion fruit vine, etc.

    Even palms – popular now with landscapers – have fruit bearing versions (dates, coconuts). It would be a good import substitution policy if widely embraced.

    In the French West Indies, banana trees and even sugar cane are used on hotel grounds in a decorative arrangement that always piques the interest of guests, who only know these fruits from supermarket shelves.

    Bajans who have travelled overseas will enjoy the novelty of picking an apple or strawberry from its source, and eating it. The same is true in reciprocal!

  7. Wry Mongoose

    Last paragraph above should read:

    Bajans who have travelled may have enjoyed the novelty of picking an apple or strawberry from its source [while overseas]. The same could be true of visitors here in reciprocal!

  8. Bajanboy

    Bajans love concrete. See when they build their ugly houses how they cover their entire yard in concrete. Bajans also hate trees. They hide criminals and may blow down in a storm, so let’s cut them down; and then complain how hot it is.

  9. observer

    For some encouraging and informative articles on productive, small-scale, organic agriculture in the UK and around the world, check out the web site of the UK based Institute for Science and Society at http://www.i-sis.org.uk

    Here’s a snip from one of their articles:

    Many people have asked what exactly is Dream Farm 2. There are several answers. First of all, Dream Farm 2 is a model of an integrated, ‘zero-emission’, ‘zero-waste’ highly productive farm that maximises the use of renewable energies and turns ‘wastes’ into food and energy resources, thereby completely obviating the need for fossil fuels. It is our answer to the energy crisis and climate change, and more. It is a microcosm of a different way of being and becoming in the world, and in that respect, nothing short of a social revolution.

    SNIP

    Productivity and biodiversity always go together in a sustainable system, as generations of farmers have known, and recent academic researchers have rediscovered. It is also the most energy efficient. Why? Because the different life cycles are essentially holding the energy for the whole system by way of reciprocity, keeping as much as possible and recycling it within the system.

    Industrial monoculture, in contrast, is the least energy efficient in terms of output per unit of input, and often less productive in absolute terms despite high external inputs, because it does not close the cycle, it does not have biodiversity to hold the energy within, and it ends generating a lot of waste and entropy and depleting the soil.

    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/DreamFarm2.php

    A future of ever increasing energy prices and increasing energy scarcity will also be a future in which we can not maintain or increase crop yields simply by using ever increasing quantities of cheap, hydrocarbon based energy to overcome the harmful side effects of industrialized agriculture, e.g. nutrient loss, soil degradation and erosion, pollution etc.

    If we can’t learn to feed ourselves without destroying or soil and fresh water resources in the process, we will starve.

    For a sample of some more ISIS articles see here:
    http://www.i-sis.org.uk/susag.php

  10. Pat

    I am a Bajan living in Ottawa. My family and I have had allotments for the past 20 or more years. They are organic, 25×50 foot lots for the annuals and 15×25 for the perennials. I farmed a perennial where I could leave my herbs, asparagus, strawberries, etc., year to year. The annuals were ploughed up every spring for the planting season. The perennial lots were $20 and the annuals $40. The garden committee supplied the mushroom compost/horse manure. They were taps every twenty yards for the hoses. The manure and water were paid for out of the fees. All the wastage that could not be forked into the lot was collected every fall and sent to the City’s compost site. I even grew watercress in the gutter where water would settle.

    If you had a bumper crop you put the excess on the hedgerow, so other gardeners or walkers who used the paths could take it.

    In Barbados, the thieves would probably harvest the plots before the vegetables were ready for picking.

    I am now volunteering on the planning committee that is working to set up another about one and a half kilometres from my home. We hope to have it ready for next Spring. I find gardening very relaxing and a good stress reliever. I also have a sizable garden at home with blue berries, goose berries, currants (red and black), rhubard, apples (spartan and red delicious) asparagus, herbs, and of course my vegetables. I also have two grape vines. I also make my own compost and have 3 composters in my back yard. I have no concrete, not even a patio. I grow no flowers apart from crocuses in the lawn and a few tulips in the spring. At the front where people plant flowers, I plant calaloo (red and green) and parsleys. I grow only things that you can eat. I even grow Bajan spinach and okras, plus pumpkin which I have to start early in the house so they can ripen. The sweet potatoes only generate leaves, but a Philipino showed me how to cook them – the leaves. Delicious! I also grew peanuts. Last year I harvested two 15 pound pumpkins.

    Right now I have two spinach plants which I brought in in the Fall in pots to be retransplanted in the spring. I have 3 sweet potato plants growing to make slips. These are American potatoes and grow here well. They are lower in sugar and starch and have a high water content, and orange flesh. Best baked. I grow running beans on the fence as well as cherry tomatoes which also run. I get very good yields as I rotate the crops every year and only use manure. I use no chemicals and pick the bugs, if any, off by hand. The chipmonks usually eat the slugs and earwigs. The birds eat them as well. My yard is always a hive of activity, squirrels, chipmounts, birds and rabbits. I even had a peregrine falcon last fall, looking for small animals.

    It is a good life! The vegs taste divine. I eat almost everything in my garden raw. It tastes so good, especially the beans.

  11. Jupiter

    Pat

    What a lovely picture you painted there,I can almost see your garden.

    Bajans bless my heart all the time (especially the older generation) with their industriousness.

  12. Tudor

    Pat, I congratulate you. I do a similar thing in my back yard,cannot understand the trend in the last 20 years by bajans to build a house which takes up the entire plot of land and there is not room to plant a lime tree!
    In my back yard are 2 lime trees, a coconut tree, 2 shaddock, 2 avocados & a mandarin. I also grow cassava, sweet potatoes, and I live in St. Michael near to Govt House.

  13. Pat

    Jupiter, thanks. I really enjoy my yard/garden. I love to dig in the dirt.

    Tudor, you are very smart. I used to live near government house with my grandfather, we kept a goat that ate everything except the rose bush at front. We lived in the gap beside the soap factory. Dont remember the name. I hope you sell some of your fruit. I share my apples and grapes with family and friends. I harvest so many, I leave some on the branches for the birds that over winter. A neighbour down the street exchange vegetables with me when we dont plant the same things.

    My mother has some land up in St. Joseph, the old house collapsed, but she planted mango, pear, grapefruit and lime on the land. It already had breadfruit, ackee, coconuts, figs and peas. Now she also plants cassava and banavist seems to grow wild down there. Maybe a bird dropped some seeds.

    My aunt and her sons look after it and sell the bananas and figs to hawkers and the coconuts to the street sellers and the dry ones to a bakery. The money pays the taxes and the guy who cuts down the bush. The neighbours unfortunately, reap the fruits.

  14. Jupiter

    This is what I love to hear.Life in Bim as we used to know it.

    Sadly we can’t recognise it.

    I love Bim so bad and the uniqueness of this country that made us the envy of the other caribbean countries.

    That’s why I cry silent tears for the way the Guyanese,vincentians and to a lesser extent the jamaicans have destroyed that beautiful ‘barbadianess” that we once enjoyed.

    All because of a despotic prime minister who decided everyone from caricom must be allowed to come – come hell or highwater.

    I try to capture some of these little pieces of sweet barbados when I visit a village in St joseph,or talk to a senior citizen in St Phillip.

    Barbados,my island of dreams.

  15. Jupiter I understand where you are coming from but you must look at the big picture. The world is and has changed!

    Look at Canada and it is not alone we take in the cultures of the world most of whom are good people looking only for an opportunity to make a new life. The minority turn to crime and in the case of our Nation most of it is committed by immigrants. What can you do?

    I hear you because no one loves Barbados more than I do. It was one huge big playground for me that involved marble cricket, cricket, beach cricket with a refreshing dive into the sea. A jam puff from the Purity Bakery cart, fishing, throwing a sprat net, going to Buckley Factory for some crack liqueur or cane juice, shooting a wave, deep sea fishing, helping some black fishermen beat the sea to put fish in the sein net. And afterwards he would say you mudda can use a few fish. You talk bout tears I have cried a river ma man but that is the past and we have to move on.

    I do not know how old you are but I am 72 and I still salivate thinking about the sweet hams we use to get at Christmas from Canada made by Swift. They came to Bim covered in a tar wrapper and were boiled to get the salt out and then baked in cloves. They had nuff fat but sweeter than the proverbial “promised land”. They needed no refrigeration—– none and sat in the larder oozing sweet fat so that anytime you wanted you could get a penny bread cut off a piece of ham and mek it s——. We use to melt down the tar wrapper to mek marble cricket balls. There was no sweeter life than in Bimmy Boobles. My dear man even if Arthur locked me up I would return today to give my life for Barbados and that is why I defend it as I do!

    You talk bout cry man you dont know how much I miss Bim.

  16. Jupiter

    Sure Allamby,I understand about development,but there is something called planned development.

    If you consider the increase in eco tourism worldwide you will see that visitors aren’t that keen on high rise hotels,a few limbo dancers and a disco.

    They like to see greenery,village life,some historic buildings and places.

    That’s why countries like England have such appeal,it combines all of the above.

    Bajans alive today and their children,children to come will continue to rue the day the allowed owen arthur to take control of this country.

    I blame the BLP party members.Most of the older B’s like Henry Forde,David Simmons,the late Bernard St John and Billie Miller et al,disliked Arthur intensely,but instead of doing the right thing and voting against him and replacing the leadership,they kept quiet once they could all feed at the Piggy Trough.

    That’s why say what you will about the DLP and their unwelcome public display of infighting,at least they were doing the honourable thing – they were letting the democratic process operate – though they were going about it in a very crude way.

    It will take decades for this country to reverse the damage inflicted by owen arthur,and you know what?

    It suddenly dawned on me,HE JUST DOESNOT CARE.

    He however should realise that there is life after politics and what that may hold for him and his family may not be so pretty after all.

    People like him are counting on the bajan’s continued ‘passive’ nature,but believe me there is a slow but quiet revoution going on that will eventually surprise a lot of people – bajans are changing – and not always for the better.

  17. Anon

    At the rate owen going (ant those who goin wid owen), there soon will not be any piece of overgrown empty lot,no grass piece,no piece of pasture for stocks to graze on except those plantations owned by COW.

    If they go high rise and chock every body in 15 stories apt blocks while the expatriates enjoy their sprawling bungalows how will you get urban gardens.

    By the way do you know that COW Williams took a lush,productive plantation in Claybury St John which used to produce paw-paws,vegetables,ground provisions and sugar cane and turns it into a grass land for hay to feed his polo horses and diary cows.

    If disaster strikes and the food boat can’t get in to Barbados,then his horses will be fat and well fed,but the people will be starving or have to eat grass.

    Who in Town & Country approves of these plans though? – Is it owen?

    Somebody need to stop that man COW,he started off o.k. but he has surely as hell gone overboard now.

    Power seems to have gone to his head.

  18. Jupiter I obviously misunderstood the letter I responded to from you. I thought your focus was on West Indian immigrants coming to Barbados and spoiling it. Your follow up letter involves everything some I agree with some I dont, but here is something I definitel cannot agree with you on.

    I think Bree St. John and especially Chief Justice David Simmons were and are decent, upright and honest GENTLEMEN and I for one cannot or will not malign them. I do not think that because of the poor and misguided philosophy and acts of bad apples in the BLP that you can paint them all with a wide brush as corrupt because I cannot contribute to that thinking. But you are a resident and voting Bajan and it is your prerogative to say what you like. The other old BLP members you mention I know little about them. But Mr. David Simmons and the late Bree St.John in my opinion were the salt of the Bajan earth. And I think the Leader of the Opposition David Thompson who is equally decent and upright would agree with me!

    I am a man that can be very outspoken but I am a man that tries to be fair and decent to everybody!

    My problem with the current BLP is that they are totally out of touch with the masses and the needs of the masses in Barbados, they have become arrogant and they are out of control. Their programs are misguided and directed to and for the benefit of the minority and Foreigners in Bim and that is wrong wrong wrong. Charity begins at home and should be for our people first who have suffered enough. But what is going is a very common thing that happens to most Governments that have been in power a decade or more like the BLP have.

  19. Lorraine

    I would pack my bags and head to the Caribbean in a flash to contribute my time and help create urban gardens everywhere and anywhere if my help is needed. Although it would be my first go at gardening, I am eager to learn, a hard worker with a very positive attitude.
    Peace and Blessings!
    Canada

  20. 9

    Well here I am almost 3 years later since my original comment above. Since then I decided to get educated in permaculture. I completed my PDC (permaculture design certification) in 2009 and just recently Oct/Dec 2012 I completed my PRI Internship at the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia. So do you think Barbados is ready for Permaculture now? Growing food forest and learning about real sustainability? Hope so because I intend to move there and teach others how rewarding it can be to grow your own food plus a whole lot more. Blessings to my fellow Bajans. I simply love Barbados, Lorraine from Vancouver Canada January 2012.

  21. Green Monkey

    @Lorraine from Vancouver,
    I would be most interested in learning more about permaculture and how we can use it to grow food in a sustainable manner and with minimal degradation of our already overstressed environment and our diminishing natural resources. Glad to hear you will be coming back to share your knowledge with us.

    When do you expect you might be back in Barbados again? If you haven’t done so, make sure to contact the Future Centre Trust @ http://futurecentretrust.org/main/ and let them know of your plans to return to the island to make permaculture a going concern in Bim. The Future Centre should be able to put you in touch with some more Bajans and residents who would be receptive students for your permaculture teaching program.

    http://futurecentretrust.org/main/

  22. Lorraine

    Thank you for your encouragement Green Monkey. I think I’m ready to pack up and head to Barbados pretty quick now that I see there is some serious green movement happening and eager participants willing to learn some amazing permaculture techniques. I will definitely contact FCT, but would like if you reached me at lciarallo@telus.net. I have a few questions? Thank you, Lorraine

  23. Barbados is about to get much greener. The Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute (CPRI) is almost ready to open its doors with plans for a CPRI learning center and demonstration site. CPRI will be located in the parish of Christ Church. We are planning our first Permaculture Design Course (PDC) for November 2013. CPRI will provide many opportunities for you to learn and apply the ethics and principals covered in Bill Mollison’s book, Permaculture – A Design Manual. Mollison developed a unique approach to farming called “whole systems design” and we will teach and demonstrate how it works.
    Upon completion of a PDC course, you will without a doubt be transformed! You will become so proactive. Everything around you will become a solution to a problem. You will look at your needs and those of your communities much differently.
    CPRI will show you how to grow highly nutritious dense food, no matter what the scale, teeny, tiny, small or large plots of land. If you have a backyard, front-yard, side-yard, containers, acreage whatever the size, we can teach you to do it the permaculture way. Ahhh….pictures of kitchen gardens, herb gardens, urban and community gardens just blooming everywhere. What pretty green shades you have, Mrs. Jones!
    CPRI is dedicated to teach techniques that reach beyond sustainability. We will teach you about regenerative techniques. Techniques that continuously build soil fertility – humus/topsoil layers and as time progresses little inputs, will allow you to sit back and watch your garden(s) pump out big outputs. There will be plenty of opportunities to learn as volunteers as well so be sure, to be on the look out for upcoming announcements in local papers, blogs, Business Barbados, FTC, etc. The CPRI team is pretty excited and we hope you are too!
    Talk to you soon and God bless!
    For additional information please contact me at lorraineciarallo@hotmail.com

  24. Dear Readers,

    The Permaculture Research Institute (CPRI) of Barbados has been in the making since 2012 and I am proud to finally announce that our project has started.

    A couple days ago CPRI launched its KickStarter crowdfunding video campaign which I would like to share with you. The purpose of our project is to set up a permaculture school in Barbados to teach, educate and demonstrate through the principles of permaculture how to grow food, repair landscapes & build community. Permaculture is a design science, inspired by nature and guided by ethics. Its purpose is to meet the needs of humanity while benefiting the environment. To this end, it empowers individuals, local communities and the larger public to build sustainable & environmentally friendly:

    •Food and Land Systems
    •Social and community systems
    •Shelter and home systems
    •Livelihood and business systems

    I hope you will take the time to watch the video link below. If this campaign is successful, it will help endure the life of this project, a project which I am committed to for the next 3 years. It is super exciting for me to share it with you and I hope, you find it exciting too!

    Please watch this 3 minute video before reading further https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1413679591/caribbean-permaculture-research-institute-of-barba

    Now…can you see why I am excited? Would you like to help me roll out this amazing campaign? If so, I would be indebted to you if you could do the following:

    1. Claim a reward by donating Any amount
    NOTE 1:
    Pledges can be as low as $1.00 Canadian and the quantum of your pledge will NOT be displayed, just your name as a “backer”.
    NOTE 2:
    Should you decide to pledge choosing a donate tab of your choice, it will prompt you to sign in with your FB account, or sign up with KickStarter. Please take the time to complete this important short step that is secured by KickStarter, thank you.
    2. Share this campaign with your family members and friends, and ask them to do the same.
    3. Post and share the campaign on your Facebook page, twitter and with others you know who would love to help us reach our goal. Thank you so much for your help!

    For your convenience, the following is a short version that you can use to email family and friends and/or post on social media outlets.

    “A Crowdfunding community initiative that I personally support has been started to assist in launching the Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute of Barbados. Through the support of many people, rather than relying solely on, and chasing grants, we kindly ask you to watch this 3 minute video. Should you decide to support this project on KickStarter, pledges can be as low as $ 1.00 CDN and the quantum of your pledge is NOT displayed, just your name as a “backer”. By choosing a donate tab, it will prompt you to sign in with FB, or sign in with KickStarter. Please complete this important step secured by KickStarter. Thank you. Here is the link to the 3 minute video https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1413679591/caribbean-permaculture-research-institute-of-barba “.

    Thank you for your consideration and cooperation.

    Help CPRI with its goals to empower people to green Barbados with food gardens everywhere on the island!

    God bless!

    Lorraine Ciarallo
    Site Manager, Designer and Consultant
    Caribbean Permaculture Research Institute (CPRI) of Barbados
    Graeme Hall, Christ Church
    http://www.cpribarbados.com
    https://www.facebook.com/CPRIBarbados
    1.246.428.8485