With the support from several organizations and volunteers, young people at the Ranfurly Homes for Children have a new backyard farm to grow and enjoy vegetables from. The Agricultural Development Organization (ADO), Disney Cruise Line (DCL) and Church Commercial Farming Group teamed up to launch the Community Farming Project, with the first backyard farm planted at the Ranfurly Homes for Children in Nassau. The project creates hands-on opportunities for the kids to learn about a variety of vegetables and eat what they grow.
With the annual national food import bill estimated at a staggering billion dollars, the residents of Ranfurly Homes for Children were inspired to take up the challenge to grow their own vegetables and joined a fast-spreading movement in The Bahamas toward small-scale farming.
On May 6, nearly 30 children from The Ranfurly Homes for Children worked alongside members of the ADO, volunteers from the Disney Wish and the Church Commercial Farming Group to be ‘farmers for a day,’ building shade houses and garden beds and planting vegetable seeds, including peppers, cabbage, beets, basil and other spices.
“Over the last 25 years, Disney Cruise Line has been committed to creating lasting, positive impact in The Bahamas,” said Leslie Lopez, human resources manager, Disney Cruise Line. “Our support of the Community Farming Project is one of the many ways, we’re providing the tools and resources to empower and inspire young people in port communities we call home,” Lopez added.
In addition to volunteers from the Disney Wish springing into action to help build the garden while the ship was in port at Nassau, DCL committed a financial donation to help support the Community Farming Project’s development of backyard farms in schools in Abaco, near where Castaway Cay, a Disney destination, is located, and in Eleuthera, where DCL is creating a new island destination at Lighthouse Point, opening summer 2024.
Children at the Ranfurly Homes for Children will have ongoing engagement opportunities with ADO to continue learning agricultural science and how to maintain their garden.
“Thanks to ADO collaborating with companies like Disney Cruise Line, we’ve been able to distribute farming kits in Abaco, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera and Nassau to individuals, groups and schools, with plans to make an even bigger impact in the future,” said Pastor Pat Paul with Church Commercial Farming Group. The ADO has distributed more than 3,000 farming kits across The Bahamas thus far.
According to organizers, the uniqueness of the program is its mentorship component. “What makes this program so different is that we are not just providing seeds, dirt and irrigation materials, we are providing guidance,” said Philip Smith, Bahamas executive chairman, Agricultural Development Organization. “With every kit we provide, a field officer is assigned to help plant and maintain the fruits and vegetables. We also track which crops are growing in the area,” added Smith.
ADO and the Church Commercial Farming Group are also taking a long-term look at growing farming with cooperative farming initiatives employing more sophisticated tools, including solar engines for fishermen, edible plant farms, plant nurseries, marine research centres and other sustainability measures.