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Principal of the Little Bay Primary and Infant School in Westmoreland, Keron King, demonstrates how the generator-powered irrigation system works.
Photo: Serena Grant

Story Highlights

  • “The garden is funded by one of our donors, the Rockhouse Foundation. They assist with…paying the gardener and at times help to get the seeds and other aspects of the garden,” he stated.
  • “We want to produce for ourselves, but we also want to sustain the other entities around us like the guesthouses and the cottages. So instead of having residents go to the city, which is pretty far to purchase produce, we can use the school garden as a means to supply the businesses as well as the homes,” Mr. King said.
  • Chief among those who extended commendations, was Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who donated $100,000 to the school, through his Positive Jamaica Foundation.

The Little Bay Primary and Infant School in Westmoreland is on a mission to become a self-sufficient institution, as well as further solidify its status as a pillar within the community.

The school, through its garden and irrigation system, aims to decrease its operational cost, as well as provide assistance to the surrounding communities.

Speaking with JIS News, Principal of school, Keron King said the garden is an important part of the institution’s nutritional initiative.

“The garden is funded by one of our donors, the Rockhouse Foundation. They assist with…paying the gardener and at times help to get the seeds and other aspects of the garden,” he stated.

Mr. King also credits community members for contributing agricultural inputs such as seedlings, as well as banana and plantain suckers.

He noted that the garden has been doing well especially over the last two years, as the school won the second prize for best school garden in Jamaica at the Denbigh Agricultural Show in 2018.

Produce from the garden such as callaloo, pak choi and pumpkin are also used in the school’s breakfast programme.

Mr. King told JIS News, that some 80 percent of the students benefit from the programme when school is in session.

“It has helped significantly, because a number of the students look forward to the breakfast programme, in fact they come to school pretty early to ensure that they receive breakfast. The programme is free of cost,” he stated.

He added that the school is also looking to implement a greenhouse project “where we want to start planting cabbage, herbal plants and other things.”

Principal of the Little Bay Primary and Infant School in Westmoreland, Keron King,​​ shows some of the produce in the school garden.

 

The Principal also stated that that there are plans to set up a farmer’s market with produce from the garden, so that the school can supply businesses and homes in surrounding communities.

“We want to produce for ourselves, but we also want to sustain the other entities around us like the guesthouses and the cottages. So instead of having residents go to the city, which is pretty far to purchase produce, we can use the school garden as a means to supply the businesses as well as the homes,” Mr. King said.

He also informed that the school is seeking to reduce the canteen’s operational budget by at least 40 percent “by eating what we produce.”

The Principal also noted that the school intends to rear its own chickens in the near future as “one of our biggest cost is protein, so we are adding that to the initiative to ensure that cost goes down.”

Meanwhile, the school has a generator-powered irrigation system which helps to water the school garden and supply some areas of the school’s infrastructure with water.

“There is a well that is in close proximity to the school, so what we did was set up a pump from the well so that water actually comes into the garden and that helps to sustain the garden and other areas in the school,” he told JIS News.

Mr. King noted that despite the school’s closure as a result of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the institution still ensures that the garden is up and running, by retaining the services of the school gardener.

“It’s one aspect of the school that we ensure still continues, because we want to ensure that if anything happens, we can produce to assist with the children, as well as other members of the community, who might be having challenges getting food, so we want to ensure that the garden is sustainable,” he stated.

Mr. King, who has been principal of the school for just two years, is determined to continue uplifting the morale and image of the school.

The passionate educator was recently lauded by stakeholders for delivering assignments weekly to students in remote areas by way of a bike taxi.

Chief among those who extended commendations, was Prime Minister the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, who donated $100,000 to the school, through his Positive Jamaica Foundation.

Mr. King disclosed that it is his hope that more entities will come on board to provide assistance, as there are several key initiatives that the school is looking to implement in the near future.

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