JIS News

The Castleton Gardens in St. Mary have been restored, following the devastation caused by Hurricanes Ivan, Dennis and Emily.
The gardens, which were established in 1862, are bordered by the Wag Water River and remains a national attraction for visitors to the parish.
Restoration of the facility was done between May and September of last year, and was carried out at a cost of $2.7 million.
Among the works carried out were the re-fencing of the facility, the construction of a new Gazebo and the repairing of three others, and the rebuilding of the manager’s residence.
The restoration was done by the Public Gardens Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land, in conjunction with the Office of National Reconstruction (ONR).
The restored facility was showcased at the Castleton Gardens Open Day and Earth Expo held on the grounds of the facility, recently.
Among the agencies represented at the exposition were the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), GraceKennedy, the St. Mary Health Services, the National AIDS Committee, the Jamaica National Heritage Trust, and the Meteorological Office of Jamaica.
Addressing the function, Minister of Agriculture and Land, Roger Clarke, said the efforts to restore the gardens were a fulfilment of the Ministry’s mandate as the custodian of public gardens. He pointed out that many of the trees in the gardens dated back to the 1860s, adding that the Bombay Mango, the Navel Orange and the Tangerine were first introduced to Jamaica at Castleton Gardens.
He noted that while the gardens were a historic landmark for Jamaicans, there was also tremendous untapped potential for packaging and marketing the facility as a lucrative tourist attraction, with the capacity to earn foreign exchange.
Mr. Clarke described the gardens as a priceless resource, and emphasised that it was the duty of the people of Jamaica to preserve it.
The Minister commended the organizers of the Open Day and Earth Day Expo for staging the event.
Also addressing the function was Raymond Ramdon, Superintendent of Public Gardens in the Ministry.The Superintendent said the Ministry was proud to be able to continue maintaining the gardens at the level where it was welcoming visitors, both local and foreign.
He thanked the workers of the gardens for the contribution they have been making to the development of the attraction, and paid special tribute to the late Lester Mills, former gardener at the attraction, who lost his life in November 2005, during flood rains while on his way from work.

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