School garden project gets underway in Trinidad and Tobago

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In early October, through the Government of Mexico and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the first climate resilient school garden was installed and planted Barataria Community Council (Homework Centre). CARDI, Trinidad and Tobago collaborated with project implementers FAO, to design 3 climate resilient production systems, recommended the types of crops to be grown and provided training to the students.


The mini climate resilient commercial systems installed, included a deep flow technique recirculating closed hydroponic system, which allows for the production of 280 heads of lettuce per crop cycle or 2,240 heads of lettuce per year.


In addition, a climate smart drip grow bucket open hydroponic system, was also set up which allows for the production of fruiting type vegetables, and has the capacity to grow 125 plants, producing 1,500 – 2,500 lbs of produce over a 5 month period. The crops planted in the system included tomatoes, sweet pepper (green, yellow and purple), melongene, hot pepper and cauliflower.


An automated climate smart drip grow bed system, was also set up for the production of herbs including parsley, celery, chive, basil, kale and salad beans.


The drip bucket and grow bed systems are fed water and nutrients via a venturi injector system, connected to solenoid valves and controlled by an electronic timer which automatically turns on 5 to 6 times per day. The system also has a rain sensor which can shut off irrigation on rainy days.


These systems are automated and provide recycling and efficient use of water and fertilizers, require less labour for crop management, remove the need for chemical and manual weed control and allow for greater yield per square foot.


Over the next 8 weeks CARDI and FAO will continue to provide training for the students to ensure best practices are utilized. There will also be demonstrations on the maintenance of the systems for a successful crop cycle together with a manual on Climate Resilient practices. Produce from this system will be supplied to the school feeding programme and persons in the community to generate income.

Collaborators of this initiative include the FAO, the Barataria Home Work Centre (BHC), The Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries, Thomson’s Garden Materials Ltd, 4H Leaders Council of Trinidad and Tobago, the School Feeding Programme and Pennacool.