Bishop’s College Kingstown (BCK), is the only secondary school in Kingstown that has an Agricultural Science programme. These past two terms though it has been quite noticeable that students – from forms one to five, have upped their cultivation and their agriculture teacher, Lisa Jacobs is quite pleased with how receptive her student are.
It’s “a dream come true,” Jacobs told SEARCHLIGHT last Wednesday, May 24, as she shared about the enthusiasm of her students, her journey of transforming the programme into what it is today, and her aspirations for the practical aspect of the school’s agricultural programme.
“… Basically, there are two spin-offs. The first one is for their academics, they are doing this so that they can obtain the subject as a CSEC subject, so they’re doing this so that they can gain that award at the end of the years being here,” Jacobs explained.
“ The second … is to create positive people for the society so they [can be] farmers, they can be extension officers, they know about the different careers. They can [make] a positive contribution to society.”
The agriculture plot which is located at one side of the school compound is divided into five sections, and each form in the school has been designated their own area on which they grow a wide range of crops.
“Right now we have eggplants- and we have a lot of eggplants to sell …we have tomatoes, we have ochros, corn, sweet potato, cabbage … we have chives outside as well…we have the watermelon and pumpkin…”, Joseph said. The crops have produced abundantly under the hands of the students and Jacobs’ tutelage so much so that it has become a challenge getting markets for the produce, especially the eggplants.
“ I don’t know who to tap into. That could be one of the issues because I know this school has a great alumni but I’m fairly new so knowing all the different links who to tap into- probably my connections are not that broad…”.
Jacobs though, is not deterred by this obstacle and has intentions to add more fruit trees as the next step in the school’s agriculture programme to also offer healthy eating options for students.
“Instead of having to … buy all the greasy foods and buy all the snacks…they can go now and eat wax apples, eat plums. I want to get the plum tree growing. The plumrose is there behind there, more fruit trees; fruit trees tend to bring more animals, bees especially, hopefully that will pollinate it.”
Poultry rearing is one the components of the agriculture programme at BCK but Jacobs said the students have been expanding adding a few animals.
“So that’s a big plus. We [also] want to do aquaponics and all kind of stuff, so they’re seeing the need to expand and be more creative, which is really a dream come true.”
The Agricultural Science teacher is also pleased with the engagement of parents who at times are seen on the plots assisting with tending the crops, especially when the students are on vacation.
“So I have responsible students -yes, I have some delinquent ones, but overall, I am favoured with good students.”
Jacobs said she has had experience where students were not too receptive to Agricultural Science regarding it as degrading work.
“So I find that students at BCK are more involved and I’m glad to some extent that they are taking the initiative and I don’t have to really tell them to go and wet, or to tell them to harvest, they’re doing that, so as a teacher, I am proud of that.”
SEARCHLIGHT also spoke with a few of the Agricultural Science students about their experiences with the subject.
Kelia Horne believes that she has benefited from the agriculture programme which has helped teach her how financially beneficial the sector can be.
“… Agriculture is a very profitable trade and it can help bring in income. It can also help with exporting of new agricultural products and bringing in foreign exchange into the economy…”, she said.
Another student felt it would be simply hard work at the start but has since had a change of attitude. “Now I kinda like it …”
Finding markets for the produce is not the only challenge being encountered. Pure Greene pointed out to SEARCHLIGHT that sometimes the demand on available tools affects their work.
“When you want the tools that you need to work with, somebody might be using it, and when you ask them for it kindly, they make a whole heap of noise and it becomes a problem…”.
Nevertheless, Jacobs said that she is grateful to those who have assisted with their programme and hopes they will continue to do so.