$10 million school garden project launched by Education Ministry Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

The Ministry of Education and Youth has launched a National School Garden Project under the theme, ‘Eat what you grow, from the farm to the table’.

This $10 million project is to involve the establishment of school gardens in 23 schools across the island, and is part of the ministry’s plan to transform the National School Feeding Programme.

Speaking at the virtual launch on February 21, Minister of State in the ministry, Marsha Smith, said the project represents an important initiative by the ministry to revolutionise school nutrition practices into healthier and sustainable practices.

“The ministry has recognised that well-fed children are better able to learn, regulate their emotions, and ultimately maximise their potential whilst they are a part of the school system,” she said.

Smith also highlighted the opportunities for students to learn in a comprehensive way to develop their skills in agricultural science, and to introduce students from diverse backgrounds to various career paths.

The project, pioneered by Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Kasan Troupe, was established to address the growing rate of obesity among young people, and to support efforts for food security by rehabilitating school gardens and creating new ones in both primary and secondary schools. 

The schools will see the implementation of vegetable gardens, herb gardens, hydroponic units, and poultry production units, which are to be monitored by education officers during monthly check-ins.

The project will also facilitate an exhibition in May for students to showcase their produce and be awarded under various categories.

Meanwhile, Troupe said the launch of the National School Garden Project is not new, but is a chance for stakeholders in the education sector to refocus on the opportunities for improvement in academic performance and school attendance.

“Our goal, ultimately, colleagues, is to obtain standardisation and regularisation of the nutrition offering in our schools, so you have to be on that campaign with us, because you are the stewards over our schools, and we rely on what you do. Our job is to enable you,” she added.

Troupe urged principals and teachers to include parents and guardians in the school gardens, and to maintain the gardens.

She also encouraged educators to respond creatively and collaboratively to the needs of students, to facilitate healthier lifestyles and national development beyond schools.