The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) officially launched the first Backyard Gardeners Network Initiative (BGNI) in Grenada with a practical training session on the elements in the backyard, which was facilitated by IICA in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Forestry.
Under the IICA Regional Project ‘Soil-centric actions for strengthening food system resilience and promoting regenerative agriculture as a climate solution in the Caribbean’, the objectives of the initiative are to strengthen the technical capacity of community members for increased backyard production through a ‘backyard garden demonstration’ training, and strengthen the coordination among backyard gardeners to improve food security in their communities through the development of a Networking Platform. This Networking Platform is a WhatsApp group to which the backyard gardeners have registered; where information, skills and best practices in the backyard will be exchanged.
The training was conducted on the site of a backyard gardener at La Digue in St Andrew. IICA Grenada teamed up with the owner of the site to convert a portion into a model backyard garden which will serve as a demonstration plot.
The participants at the training came from throughout Grenada; however, the parishes of St Andrew and St George had the largest numbers present.
30 participants were exposed to the essential elements in the backyard for food security and also had hands-on training on the use of compost, soil preparation, planting and planting distance, crop rotation and the use of medicinal plants in the backyard.
A backyard gardening startup kit was provided to each participant which they used during the training to prepare the soil, plant and water the vegetables and medicinal plants.
The backyard gardeners will return to the demonstration plot within three months to evaluate its condition and to visit a sample of the backyard garden plots to assess the level of adoption in the backyards based on the training that they received.
Two local garden shops/hardware stores and the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands and Forestry supported this initiative by complementing the gardening tools which IICA provided in the startup kits. Locally produced compost was also part of the startup kit. The participants considered the watering can and the compost as being the most important items in the startup kit.
The backyard gardeners will return to the demonstration plot within 3 months to evaluate its condition and to visit a sample of the backyard garden plots to assess the level of adoption in the backyards based on the training that they received. The ongoing activities at the demonstration plot and that of the individual backyard gardeners will be monitored by IICA and the Ministry of Agriculture staff.
The sustainability of this network will be supported by the Ministry of Agriculture Extension Department by providing the required technical and economic advice for production in the backyard. There is also room for synergy with the Climate Smart Agriculture Enterprise Project (SAEP) which provides grants for backyard gardens with the main purpose being to increase consumption of nutrient -rich foods coupled with nutrition education to improve healthy food choices.