Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Dr. Ronald Blake.
Photo: Nickieta Sterling

The Jamaica 4-H Clubs is inviting young people to register for its family backyard garden challenge.

The competition, which started in May, will run over a three-month period and is open to Jamaica 4-H Clubs members, volunteers as well as members of the public aged nine and over.

Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, Dr. Ronald Blake, says the challenge has became necessary, in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has brought into greater focus the need for increased food security.

“We are… just coming off the heels of making adjustments based on the threat that climate change presents for food security, and so this is almost a double impact. So it is very clear to us that one of the strategies that we will have to implement to secure food for our people is to ensure that we broaden the production base,” he outlines.

He notes that “not only can we rely on our few farmers and investors who are producing food, we are now saying it is important for all Jamaicans, who are physically able and with the resources, to play a key role in food production”.

Dr. Blake says that the challenge will continue outdoor activities in a fun and engaging way, while maintaining social distance.

He notes that the activity, while targeted at the youth, aims to involve the entire family.

“While the young person will be the applicant, it does not exclude grandma, parent, baby sister, baby brother, uncle or whoever is in that setting. We are saying it is a very healthy activity for the entire family…not only for physical health but you are growing your own food,” he points out.

The family backyard garden challenge, under the theme ‘Plot to Plate’, runs from May 28 to August 31.

The gardens can be a small plot of land, one’s backyard, or containers used to plant two or more cash crops such as cucumber, callaloo, lettuce, pak-choi, cabbage, corn and okra.

Each participant is required to submit either a three-minute video in mp4 format or six high-quality photographs of the garden area at the beginning, during and end (harvesting) stages of the challenge.

“We will be able to assess the garden based on the submission of photographs and videos through our online platform. We’re going to be doing technical analysis, and we’re going to have eliminations until we come down to 14 gardens. These gardens are also going to be on social media and the amount of likes you get for your garden, based on picture and video share, is going to be a part of that assessment of the garden,” Dr. Blake says.

A release from the 4-H Clubs states that the top-three gardens will gain bragging rights as the ‘Jamaica 4-H Top Family Backyard Garden’ and will share $200,000 in cash and garden inputs,

Additionally, the top-20 gardens will be featured online in the Jamaica 4-H Clubs Family Backyard Garden Catalogue.

Online peer evaluation will play a key role in the challenge. Members of the public will be invited to ‘like’ the submitted videos and photos on the Jamaica 4-H Clubs’ online platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The highest number of ‘likes’ will be included in the overall judging criteria.

Prospective entrants can visit the Jamaica 4-H Clubs’ website – before the end of June to access the Challenge’s general guidelines and registration form.

For more information, persons can also call (876) 927-4050-2.

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