Home gardening can do wonders for a person’s mental health, and there can also be financial gains for those who do it well.
Adrian Reid, co-founder of Victory Gardens Caribbean, acknowledged this when the second and final leg of the 2020 Grow Barbados Challenge recently came to an end.
In the interests of food security and to help Barbados cut its high food import costs, Victory Gardens Caribbean, in partnership with FarmFinder and the National Conservation Commission (NCC), launched the challenge last year. Reid noted that Victory Gardens originally emerged from a ministry called In Light of Jesus Christ Ministries to show the wisdom of going from being a mere consumer of products and products to being a producer.
Speaking to The Barbados Advocate recently after the prizes were awarded to the final winners, Reid said that some participants in this final stage vowed to continue their home gardening projects while others started businesses after successfully running the challenge.
“We would have completed the second half of the process for those growing the four selected crops – Chinese cabbage, okra, lettuce, and cucumber. We walked them through the process and through a series of videos they would have received from us, the team leaders would have walked them through the process on social media, ”said Reid.
“From that we saw a community of new growers that has developed. We also saw people doing business with it because a woman actually started selling her excess vegetables. From that she founded a completely new company, ”he revealed.
“We saw parents with disabled children tell us how it helped their children with their disabilities. So we had tons of feedback, different reports about how it affected people. People who weren’t working found their bills lowered in the process, and it also kept them in good mental health because unemployment can weigh on their thoughts, but gardening helped them sharpen their focus. So we’ve really seen mental, social and economic benefits coming from this challenge, and we’ve seen success at all of these levels, ”said Reid.
Reid stated that there is currently a very active WhatsApp group that has successfully started farmers for the first time to learn from each other and move things forward. He plans to make the Grow Barbados Challenge an annual initiative to encourage a movement out of the project.
“We want to make it an annual activity. That is the goal and also to build up more and more resources from which they can learn, observe and grow. We are therefore planning to build a community, a movement in this area and especially a horticulture (project) so that people can learn and receive support if they want to take this trip. So we definitely have something to do, ”Reid told this newspaper.
In terms of the four harvest categories, Raiden Kennedy won first place and Caroline Mason won second place for growing Chinese cabbage. First place went to Dana Williams for her cucumber harvest; while Cynthia Cumberbatch took second place. Nicole Austin Belgrave won first place for her lettuce harvest; while repeat winner Dana Williams won first place for her okra. Sandy Searles took second place.