SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - It’s time for round 2 of ECO Learning. Registration begins once again for the next round of the ECO-Learning program. Focused on SGD #17 (building partnerships for goals) in collaboration with The Netherlands Red Cross Society, CDFHA and Spaceless Gardens will be hosted at ECO St Maarten Agricultural Research and Development Center. The first cohort began back in November 2020 and concluded in Feb 2021 brought knowledge to community members on the basics of Agro- Ecology.
Agroecology is defined by the OECD as “the study of the relation of agricultural crops and environment.” Dalgaard et al. refer to agroecology as the study of the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment within agricultural systems.
This concept was first introduced by the University of St Martin in collaboration with ECO SXM on a mission to enhance the Universities level of education in this sector amongst active community members that seek to enhance their studies in this area or have been busy during the lock down experience of 2020.
The first program was supported positively by CDFHA and concluded in Jan 2021. A certification ceremony was organized by CDFHA in the presence of the former Minister of VSA Hon. Richard Panneflek for participating members. The program yield great results and created a new team of interested persons on a mission to start a tree bank and other community oriented activities that will help to stimulate and enhance agri \ cultural production that may be more sustainable for the long term.
On April 12 an MOU was signed between Spaceless Gardens & The Netherland Red Cross Society in witness of Ms Chantelle Greoneveldt of CDFHA to support another round of the ECO - Learning Program.
‘’ The support The Netherland Red Cross Society offered to Spaceless Gardens and the Agricultural Research and Development Center will allow the center to finally serve it’s purpose in our communities. I was introduced to Mr Martin Dacles of The Netherlands Red Cross Society stationed in St Maarten by President of USM Dr Antonio Carmona when they came to visit the center a few months back. It was so funny how we all passionately felt about the importance of agriculture being implemented not only in our communities, but society and country over all.
I never take for granted the people we meet along this journey we call life for everyone has a reason or meaning for passing through our lives. I felt blessed to just have 3 people that shared the same views and explored ways they may be bale to achieve the bigger picture, not alone but together ! ‘’ Wyatte expressed.
The next round of ECO-Learning is geared to be a fun packed educational growing experience, not only physically but mentally and spiritually as well. The upcoming 8 weeks registered participants will engage in a number of activities and enjoy cultural treats that will focus on stimulating self within nature and culture.
The program will cover a range motivational topics on gardening education, building awareness, creative positive social capacity building, networking, encouraging skill enhancement and economical diversification in the areas of agri-culture and agro-ecology.
A new addition by Red Cross to the program that was positively accepted to be introduced was Disaster Preparedness, which SG and the Center commended on and find is much of an importance giving the current circumstances Caribbean islands faced with natural disasters in our regions.
Come join us for some fun, culture, laughter and great healthy food while enhancing your overall gardening knowledge. The program will run for 8 weeks from April 2021 – June 2021 (1hr per week) and will cover the following areas:
Week 1 – Climate Change and Disaster Preparedness - Its important to understand the root of the problem toward finding solutions. How can we as individuals play our role towards being prepared and sustaining life and a better tomorrow . This week we will also prepare soil adjustments for next weeks session.
Week 2 – Seed Germination – This week the focus will be on identifying seed types, propagation of seeds, slip and cloning techniques.
Week 3 – Plant Science & Soil Types – Understanding a plant is important, the functionality of it and best condition for it to thrive in. This will be our focus this week.
Week 4 – Plant Care and Maintenance – Learning traditional and modern approached toward organic and non organic plant care, maintenance and disease control
Week 5 – History Agriculture on SXM – A video documentary archived by Mr Dwight Barran that covers an interesting interview by Mr Lorenzo Matthew caretaker of St Maarten’s first Agricultural Station and documentary done by the students of St Maarten Academy in 1993
Week 6 – Agro-Buisness – For those that may want to focus on commercial farming as an empowerment of entrepreneurship or business venture, this week will cover simple business models that may help create sustainable farming business opportunities.
Week 7 – Nutrition – The importance of a healthy dietary intake, what is truly a balance diet and the healing properties of medicinal plants.
Week 8 – The culinary Art of Harvesting - In this final week we harvest what we grow and get creative with cool ways to prepare it for consumption.
To make it all possible, The Netherlands Red Cross Society, Community Development Family & Humanitarian Affairs & SG have made available 40 slots for interested registered participants to take part in these sessions at no cost. A healthy breakfast, bush tea and some natural juices will also be available for participants. At the end of the 8 week program each participant will receive a certification of participation or completion for taking part in the ECO-Learning Sessions.
‘’ We are pleased with this collaboration between The Red Cross, SG and mentioned stake holders to once again be able to bring an oppertunity to community members toward impacting their lives on a different scale. Agriculture is the most important sector of our society, it’s not about a fancy car or house, close or shoes, but its really about why we truly put in that 9 to 5. Its really about putting food on the table no matter what job status you have. It’s about providing for your family and that comes with making better choices towards keeping food on your table. We hope with programs like this we may be truly able to shift lives in our community. If people in our community are more healthy based on gaining the right access to awareness or knowledge, they can now empower themselves with these tools that may allow them to make better choices. Better people making better choices in our community may just be the key to creating and sustaining a better St Maarten’’ Wyatte.
Registration for the ECO Learning started back in Nov 2021 and continues to offer community members a chance to be allotted to upcoming workshops. Space is limited for this upcoming 8 week session, so please submit your REGISTRATION HERE or visit your community help desk for more info.