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Stella Maris Students Launch School Gardening Program

A few weeks ago, Prime Minister John Briceno said that Belizeans need to grow what they eat and eat what they grow. And, that’s exactly what the students and teachers at Stella Maris School are doing through their school gardening program. Reporter Vejea Alvarez has the story.

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: A group of students at the Stella Maris School in Belize City are growing a variety of organic produce in an effort to highlight the importance of sustainable farming. It’s a venture that was launched back in December last year through the assistance of Minister Jose Abelardo Mai and his team at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security. 

Wendy Williams, Teacher: The Minister of Agriculture donated the seedlings. Honourable Mai, Jose Mai, he was the one that came and, with his team and then he gave us the seedlings. They were very small plants and then we decided that alright we’re going to create a garden. Actually we had a garden before but it needed some more work so with his initiative and giving us, it was a jumpstart for us to have our students plant. 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News Three and a half months later those sprouts are now mature trees producing a wide array of fresh vegetables. It’s an accomplishment that educator, Wendy Williams, says was due to the hard work of students and teachers in the middle and post primary division. 

Wendy Williams, Teacher:  We have selected the post primary students. Students ranging from age 15 and up to do all the upkeepings vs. the infants. They are very excited when they come to the garden because they know that they can take care of them. Take care of the garden, water the beds, take out the weeds and when it comes to selling they are very excited because they go from class to class. They sell to the teachers, to whosoever wants to buy. 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News:  Apart from providing the students with the basic knowledge of sustainable farming, the garden helps to supply the school’s feeding program with green vegetables. 

Wendy Williams, Teacher: We encourage them alright when we plant, we know that we will get fruits, fruits and vegetables and they can sell them. They can create their own home gardens and they are very excited when they come to the garden. So it’s a very good initiative. Actually we use the vegetables and so to, um, with the feeding program because we provide daily food for them, healthy food, and we want to encourage healthy eating as well. 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News: Williams said that the students currently have a wide variety of produce on sale and are asking for the public’s support as they continue to assist in keeping their feeding program alive.

Wendy Williams, Teacher: We have the habanero peppers. We have the jalapeños. We have tomatoes. We have eggplants, broccoli, and cilantro and we sell them based on how the crop grows or when they are ready. So we’re asking for the public to support our school and our garden. Remember these are, we use, we are using the finance to help in the kitchen, to help feed these children so if you have any seedlings or seeds at home that you want to donate to our school, I’m asking your kind contribution to please give us and we will make use of them. 

Vejea Alvarez, Love FM News:  If you would like to assist these students with their school gardening programme, you can visit the school’s office in Belize City. Reporting for Love News, I am Vejea Alvarez.