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SLICE OF BAJAN LIFE: Park alive with culture

Wendell Callender

SLICE OF BAJAN LIFE: Park alive with culture

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The focus was on trees and their value to life in general but above it all a deep sense of Bajan culture was dominant.
Queen’s Park became a melting pot of many aspects of our culture when the National Conservation Commission held its Arbor Day Expo last Saturday.
Coleridge and Parry School’s 4H booth, under the direction of leader Anthony Yearwood, caught our attention with the corn roasting on the coalpot; while on display were pumpkins, pigeon peas, field peas, okras and locally ground corn meal.
Yearwood assured us that the 4H programme, which started at the school 12 years ago, was alive and well. He credits this to the school’s approach to involving students in extra-curricular activities.
He informed us that in the students’ first year, they were given a choice to join an activity. In the second year, they were then allowed to join the club of their choice.
Yearwood also noted that the 4H club had embarked on a pineapple project which had been brought to the attention of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and funding may be provided in the future.
In the booth adjacent to Coleridge and Parry’s, the husband and wife team of Melford and Eudine Edghill showcased the kind of production that emanated from the Springhall agricultural project in St Lucy.
The Edghills have been involved in the project since 1982.
A large sandbox pumpkin, which Melford described as the sweetest pumpkin there is, could not be missed by even the most casual passer-by. The large, healthy-looking sweet potatoes were also vying for attention, along with tomatoes, okras, cucumbers and butternut squash.  
The presence of Marion Hart and her daughter Makeda in a booth which epitomised Bajan food products spoke to the continuation of a family tradition of promoting local produce.
The old-fashioned sugar cake – brown and pink – and the fishcakes mixed with split peas packaged in a sachet labelled Hart’s Exotic Bajan Fishcakes held more than their share of attention. In fact, they drew us to the booth.
Other products on display, all either created or actually produced by the Hart family under the label Seven of Harts, included chutney, jellies and jams of local fruit like guava, cherry, mango and golden apple. Tamarind balls, gooseberry preserve and papaya sticks were also displayed.
The juices, tucked away in an ice box, also bore the same indigenous stamp. The choice of juices included carambola, mango, guava, tamarind, passion fruit, gooseberry and golden apple. Coconut punch and ginger beer also took their place in this wide array of beverages.
In keeping with the objective and spirit of the event as highlighted by general manager of the National Conservation Commission, Keith Neblett, the importance of trees was emphasised. Trees on sale included those for food – tamarind, grape, orange, lime and almond – and those for shade such as mahoe, poor man orchid, yellow cassia, and black pearl.
“I want the younger people to be conscious of the need to protect what trees we have and to encourage them to plant more trees,” Neblett said. 
Sharon Roach, manager of Bajan Balmz, manufacturers of aromatherapy products including candles, pain relief bands or rubs, recognised the importance of local input and was proud to report that her products contained local herbal ingredients.
The prepared items for sale in the food tent under the management of Quinzel Mayers and customer-oriented team of Colleen Gaskin, Daphne Vanderpool, Phyllis Bascombe and Tony Applewhite, were Bajan to the core. They included the usual Saturday fare of pudding and souse, “brown-down” pig feet, breadfruit and salt fish, fish cakes and bakes, and ham cutters, as well as lamb stew, lentil peas and rice. 
Arbor Day Expo was really Bajan “fuh trute”.