Lewis Yard Primary School (LYPS) recently began a ‘Regrow Program’ under the tutelage of renowned Grand Bahama Backyard Farmers’ member and Pinder’s Point resident Luckner Timothee, who designed the program to engage students in the practice of growing their own fruits and vegetables for consumption both at school and at home.
A welcomed addition to the LYPS curriculum, the Regrow Program has not only helped to expand students’ knowledge of plant anatomy but also provides a wholesome, therapeutic gardening experience that teaches patience and responsibility too.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, I decided to visit the Lewis Yard Primary School and present the idea of a farming program, which would help students expand their knowledge about various plants (fruits, vegetables and herbs) that can be grown in makeshift gardens right on campus.
“The Regrow Program was pitched and accepted by school administration especially as there is a lack of agricultural programs at the primary level in schools throughout the Grand Bahama community; furthermore, the program would be cost effective, as the students would regrow fruits, vegetables and herbs typically used by their parents in meals they enjoy everyday simply by using the discard roots of garlic and onions, pineapple heads, seeds of tomatoes and peppers, potatoes as well as lettuce (Romain or Iceberg lettuce) that are purchased in the grocery store.
“Of course this would help to reduce their parents need for going to the grocery store to purchase such produce as they would be re-growing the garlic, onions, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, lettuce etcetera from the sprouting roots, heads and shoots that their parents would have discarded anyway.
“Students wishing to be a part of the Regrow Program were required to complete a Pre-Examination Paper which comprised 25 questions that put to the test their knowledge of re-growing the aforementioned plants; additionally it helped to gauge specifically all that I would need to incorporate into the program so that the students would glean as much as possible from it, beginning with the basics.
“Sadly, the Pre-Examination Paper exposed a deficit not only in the students’ knowledge of agriculture as it relates to gardening, backyard farming, and re-growing produce but that of their parents to,” Timothee revealed.
Armed with the information necessary to establish a successful Regrow Program beginning with teaching Lewis Yard Primary School the rudimentary basics in re-growing plants, Timothee said he was able to garner the support of parents, teachers and members of the Grand Bahama Backyard Farmers organization and demonstrate how garlic, onions, potatoes, pineapples, tomatoes, peppers and lettuce could be re-grown in water and replanted in soil thus creating a healthy garden at little to no cost at all.
Lewis Yard Primary School students, teachers and administrators were amazed by exactly all that could be regrown right in their own yards from discarded roots, shoots, seeds and heads once they apply the right methods taught by Timothee in the Regrow Program.
Furthermore, Timothee revealed that the students were afforded the opportunity through the program to enjoy the “fruits of their labor,” make healthy food choices as well as how much money could be saved as it relates to purchasing produce in the grocery store.
The LYPS Regrow Program also opened the eyes of students, teachers, administrators and parents to the infinite possibilities in terms of all that could be grown if they use the funds saved on their household grocery bills and invest it in developing their own thriving backyard gardens thus making them self-sustainable.
“The Regrow Program has a few other components that help to further establish students’ knowledge of various plants and I am pleased to have the support of members of the Grand Bahama Backyard Farmers organization as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, who will be coming into the school to conduct, discuss and explore topics such as Elements and Methods of Re-growing and Gardening, the Farmland and Bahamas Farming Potential, the Beauty of Indigenous Bahamian Flora and so much more.
“Students’ interest has been sparked in farming as a result of all they learn in the Regrow Program and now, they have a clearer understanding and more insight than before into the possibilities that exist in growing and re-growing plants in seemingly “less than favorable” conditions once the right methods are applied.
“Besides the students are also learning about various farms that are strewn throughout the Grand Bahama community and The Bahamas at large, as well as they have an opportunity to become entrepreneurs in their own right respecting the history and advancement of farming and all it supplies.
“The LYPS Regrow Program students are separated into groups such as the Ol’ Freetown Farm Re-growers, Lightbourne Farms Re-growers, Rocky Farms Re-growers all of whom had to learn about the farms their group was named after and they also had to compete against each other in various re-growing aspects of the program, which they found to be exciting.
“The students all completed exams based on all they learned in the first phase of the program and I decided to get the public involved even further by asking everyday people to sponsor the LYPS Regrow Program.
“Certainly I am pleased with the support given by Natural Blends Juices, Grand Bahama Taxi Union members, MadKap Restaurant, Our Lucaya Resort managers, restaurant chefs and staffers, Royal Bahamas Police Force officers, Bahamas Dance Theatre members, Grand Bahama Backyard Farmers members and so many others, who gave no less than $5.00 to the LYPS Regrow Program, which allowed me to purchase gardening supplies and tools as well as award the top three students in the program with gift certificates of $100.00, $50.00 and $25.00 respectively at Solomon’s Food store,” Timothee shared.
Definitely the LYPS Regrow Program though simple in design is beginning to take on a multifaceted approach to farming and filling gaps in the educational system at the primary level as far as agricultural studies are concerned and with the support of the wider community students as well as adults are being exposed to new possibilities in farming and gardening.
Furthermore, Timothee noted that throughout Grand Bahama many parents have been laid off and find it difficult to provide healthy nutritious food for their kids, thus the Regrow Program helps to not only expand their knowledge on plant anatomy, what can be regrown as well as develop a love of farming but also it feeds them too.
Top place LYPS Regrow Program members received their certificates, during a special assembly at Lewis Yard Primary School by Timothee, who looks forward to the programs’ continued growth and development.