The Owen Arthur Agrokids Project
The Owen Arthur Agrokids Project in Primary Schools, hereafter referred to as the Agrokids Project, was launched October 16th2020 in recognition of World Food Day and the birthday of former Prime Minister of Barbados, the Hon Owen Arthur, who had a passion for agriculture and youth. This project was the brainchild of Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow, Ms. Rosaline Clarke, who led with much enthusiasm.
But why was this project conceptualized? Well in 2012, the World Health Organization conducted a global school health survey across 26 primary schools in Barbados. The results were worrisome: 31% of the students were overweight and 70% showed low levels of physical activity. This could not continue. And so, the Rotary Club of Barbados South, the Rotaract Club of South Barbados and the Barbados Heart and Stroke Foundation, partnered to join the fight against childhood obesity.
There are three main objectives:
  1. To expose younger children to backyard farming for the growth of healthy and safe foods.
  2. To teach the importance of a nutritionally adequate diet with an emphasis on the consumption of locally grown foods.
  3. To encourage the adoption of an active lifestyle in the formative years.
While some of the primary schools already had gardens established, these had fallen into a state of disrepair, while some urban schools never had a garden at all. The road ahead was not easy but through sheer determination and the support and strength of able partners such as the Barbados Defence Force, landscapers and other sponsors, we were able to successfully launch the Agrokids Project and bring it to fruition.
The online classes were well received. The children participated wholeheartedly in the physical activities such as planting and weeding. The smiles at harvest time were evident, so much pride in the picking of okra, cucumbers, tomatoes and more.
The Agrokids Project is more than a kitchen garden project, but one that addresses obesity and sedentary lifestyles at a very early age, with hopes that these lessons will follow our children as they grow. (JB)