Local Fund Administrator, Bank, and Corporate & Trust Manager CITCO is hoping that their community garden initiative will plant the seeds that will lead to more local agriculture and healthy living.
On Earth Day, students at Miss Nadine’s Pre-School, operated by the NCVO, were treated to their first lesson in gardening. Since then, the project has grown with professionally crafted grow boxes donated by Just a Hobby and an emphasis on organic, non-GMO backyard farming.
CITCO staff wanted to find a way to help resolve food security issues in the long term.
“As a community, Cayman is giving, yet there is a growing issue of hunger,” said volunteer Gabriella Hernandez.
“Whilst CITCO has long supported the Caring Cousins lunch programme, also provided by the NCVO, we’d like to encourage kids to take interest in their food and where it comes from. We are trying to instill in the kids a love of learning and understanding of the world around them. It is also important for staff to be involved in the initiatives we support,” she said.
Pre-school director Heather Appleby-Lopez said, “Miss Nadine’s Preschool would love to say thank you so much for all Citco is doing for us. We believe at the preschool that it is of utmost importance that we teach children how to grow food for themselves – especially with everything that is happening with our food system and environment.”
The pre-school staff noted that the children love watching their plants grow and as soon as they go out to the playground they are checking on them.
“It gives them a sense of responsibility to have to care for and water the plants, and it is so much fun to watch them socially interact while doing their ‘jobs,’” Ms Appleby-Lopez said.
The Director noted that once ready for harvest, the plants are going to be used in the school’s kitchen for the children’s meals, and they will be able to give those children in the school’s care that are in need fresh vegetables for home as well.
The project has been a rewarding learning experience for staff volunteers, students, and staff alike finding ways to incorporate sessions into the students’ learning and handling the typical problems of gardening such as pests and maintenance.
“Like many adults, I have fond memories of helping out in the garden as a child and eating Sunday lunches laden with vegetables picked fresh from the garden,” said Julie Belton, another CITCO volunteer. However, she noted, in today’s busy world, its less common for people to grow their own food, so by providing this garden, “we can ensure children don’t miss out on a wealth of learning opportunities that can help develop new skills”.
CITCO’s community service committee hopes that by funding projects such as these, staff will have the opportunity to give back and support grassroots initiatives to impact youth and the elderly.
CITCO hopes to expand on the project with the ultimate aim of being able to use the produce in school lunches and support other organisation’s with similar work.