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Backyard gardens on the rise

Backyard gardens on the rise

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In today’s edition of SEARCHLIGHT, we share the excitement of restaurateur and backyard gardener Yvonne Thomas who reaped a pumpkin weighing over 100 pounds last week. Her farming exploits are the perfect complement for her thriving restaurant business as what does not get eaten at home is incorporated into the menu at her restaurants, ensuring that she saves money and there is little wastage.

Thomas is but one of many persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines who are returning to the land on a small scale to take advantage of the fertile soil with which we have been blessed.  Produce that can be grown here should not have to be imported. During the COVID-19 pandemic when many workers, mainly from the hospitality and entertainment industries were laid off their jobs, some took up backyard farming to help to make ends meet, provide healthy food for the family and to keep themselves occupied. Along the way, many came upon some unexpected truths: Agriculture is an excellent means of self-employment; and individuals are not only in full control of how much they earn, they also provide employment for others.

Crops that lend themselves to backyard gardening include vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, egg plant, pumpkin, ginger and peppers. There is a wide variety of herbs for the pot such as chives, thyme and rosemary. Fruit including citrus, soursop, dragon fruit, golden apple, plums, mangoes, wax apple, pineapple and watermelon are good income earners when in season.

The expectation is not that every Vincentian will turn to agriculture as a means of income; rather that more persons will get involved. Over the years, many larger farmers have expressed their frustration at the losses incurred through praedial larceny and some have even left the sector. The backyard farmer, though still at the mercy of thieves may not suffer as much given the proximity of backyard gardens to the home.

New entrants to the sector will not only increase earnings but also introduce new ideas and reinvent old ones. If done right, the promotion of family farming will create an atmosphere of inclusion that keeps future generations interested in the sector and ensures food security for Vincentians for decades to come.

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