One of the most delightful things about gardening is the anticipation it provides, hence Central Grand Bahama Member of Parliament Iram Lewis on Monday, December 4, 2017 launched the first-ever Backyard Farming Bureau Community Farming and Seedling Transplant Initiative in South Bahamia.
Gerald Hudson, Central Grand Bahama Backyard Farming Bureau Director and Lewis expressed their elation with the successful launch of the initiative, as it is expected to produce numerous benefits for residents and the community at large.
Sharing a quote by actress Audrey Hepburn, who once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” Lewis revealed that the creation of constructive, productive programs and initiatives in the Central Grand Bahama Constituency is of vital importance to all residents.
He added that as the Member of Parliament, he aims to implement projects like the Backyard Farming Bureau Community Farming and Seedling Transplant Initiative, which would undoubtedly serve to benefit all concerned now and, for generations to come.
“Such initiatives once properly supported and managed will grow and blossom, thus ensuring that other community leaders can continue the work of the Backyard Farming Bureau Community Farming and Seedling Transplant Initiative and ultimately improve the landscape and health of the constituency overall.
“Personally, I always wanted to ensure that through my service, I would help to better the Central Grand Bahama constituency in many aspects, thus making it that much better than I would have met and left it once my service is complete.
“Certainly, the importance of Bahamians being able to feed themselves cannot be underscored enough and it must be done from a healthy standpoint,” Lewis said.
“Four months ago, I met with Central Grand Bahama Backyard Farming Bureau Director Hudson, enlightening him on the vision that I had regarding this project and thankfully, he set up this seedling nursery in his backyard.
“We will grow a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, medicinal plants and flowers inclusive of but not limited to; tomatoes, bell peppers, Bahamian bird and goat peppers, pineapples, coconuts, avocados, sapodillas, sour oranges and life plant.
“Our goal is to begin encouraging Central Grand Bahama constituents and the citizenry of the island to put down the lawnmower and pick up gardening tools such as; forks, spades, rakes, hand trowels, pruners, shears, pruning saws, Dutch hoes, wheelbarrows, edgers, loppers and gardening hoses, transforming their yards into lush, healthy gardens filled with fruits, vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants,” declared Lewis.
While healthy lawns with lush, green grass are indeed beautiful, particularly at the front of any home, both Lewis and Hudson agree that there is no reason for any backyard in any community on Grand Bahama and in the country at large to not have nature’s “fast food” growing and sustaining families.
The Backyard Farming Bureau Community Farming and Seedling Transplant Initiative certainly provides the best opportunity for residents to produce their own food, thus cutting cost at the grocery store and gardening also has been proven therapeutic, reducing stress levels and anxiety while building up one’s overall health and stamina.
“Absolutely no one’s yard should be filled with beautiful yet inedible grass or rocks for that matter.
“This initiative gives everyone the chance to grow their own produce such as tomatoes, onions, celery, peppers and so much more that are used every day in kitchens across The Bahamas.
“Furthermore, when one compares the shelf life of a typical tomato purchased at the food store and one grown in the backyard, although the tomato is easily accessible at the store, it breaks down much faster due to pesticides and preservatives.
“Whereas a tomato grown in the backyard can remain on kitchen countertops for up to two weeks without becoming soft, slimy and moldy like those purchased at the grocery store.
“Again, we are going to encourage backyard farming through this initiative and I have presented Marco Carey, Central Grand Bahama Association Chairman with the mandate to identify certain plots of land through the constituency to begin community farming by transplanting seedlings grown here in Director Hudson’s nursery.
“A portion of land on the Sunrise Community Park has already been identified for backyard farming cultivation; as a matter of fact, in short order the grass will be removed, replaced with planting soil and fenced off to begin the gardening process.
“This will be the pilot project for the community garden and it is hoped that residents and those driving by would be duly encouraged and inspired to do the same, beginning in their backyards,” said Lewis.
Several spin-off initiatives are set to derive from the Central Grand Bahama Backyard Farming Bureau Community Farming & Seedling Transplant Initiative and the thoughts of Director Hudson as well as Bahamas Agricultural Health & Food Safety Authority Chairman and Member of Parliament for Fort Charlotte Mark Humes, who toured the seedling nursery will be made available in part two of this story.