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HOME GROWN: Need for network of gardeners

Suzanne Griffith

HOME GROWN: Need for network of gardeners

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I’m perhaps ashamed to admit that although I know Barbados is loaded with kitchen gardeners I can easily count the ones that I know on both hands.
I certainly don’t have any gardening secrets, and it is obvious that I’m clearly willing to share.
Kitchen gardening in Barbados continues to be a solitary act. If only there was a way to build a network of gardeners to share resources and ideas, to become a presence.
Putting healthy food on your table that you grow yourself, or even selling a bit of what you grow to cover day-to-day expenses is beyond admirable.
Often in my daily travels I see beautiful kitchen gardens. I think to stop and say hello, but usually I find myself hurrying off to my next destination, thinking that I will make time to go back another day when I have just that – more time.
I saw a lovely garden of quite a few half-drums on stands just the other day on the outskirts of Oistins. I must go back and take a look.
Growing up I was exposed to my grandfather’s community garden, a Government-leased space, similar to the perhaps more familiar allotment, that he had annually maintained from the late 1950s until his death in the mid-1980s.
From my recollection, it was nothing more than staked plots in rows divided by pathways and wide aisles so that vehicles could access the plots.
I am certain that he only grew tomatoes; I remember working with him to tear discard sheets that were used to tie the gangly vines to trellises.
I also recall that the plots were without a water supply. Gallon jugs filled the trunk of his car. The water from them was carefully administered and the jugs returned home for refilling.
My grandfather was a man of few words, but nonetheless I always felt that he enjoyed the sense of community and interaction with like-minded gardeners at his plot.
The house that he shared with my grandmother had a lovely yard, and was by child standards of enormous proportions, more than large enough for a vegetable plot.
My grandfather enjoyed canning. The large majority of the tomatoes from his plot were stewed, canned, and enjoyed all winter long. There was, of course, a month or so following the harvest that fresh tomatoes were a part of nearly every meal.
Yesterday’s Cross Country column profiled 82-year-old Branston Corbin of St Lucy proudly growing sweet peppers to earn a modest return – with no intention of slowing down. I wonder if Corbin has passed on his knowledge to the younger generations.
I’ve only just begun thinking about how best to bring the efforts of Bajan kitchen gardeners to the forefront. I am also hoping that you the reader may have some ideas.

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