EDITORIAL: Green spaces
THE Future Centre Trust has embarked on a program of beautifying Barbados by planting trees and other plants around the island. Of particular note is the idea to plant public fruit trees around the island, including a string of dwarf breadfruit trees planted along the ABC Highway. These trees initially caused a bit of confusion to the public as it was unclear who owned them and therefore who should reap the fruit. However, the Future Centre Trust has made it clear that the fruit is intended for public consumption.
They have also planted other fruit trees in the area of the Wildey Gymnasium to promote good health of persons who exercise in the area and lower the incidence of praedial larceny, which has become a huge issue on the island. The Co-ordinator of the Future Trees Program believes that Barbados needs to be able to feed itself and that free access to fruit is an opportunity to achieve that. Various groups are donating trees and funds to beautify Barbados. There are also now more programs promoting agricultural education such as the Farmers’ Empowerment and Enfranchisement Drive (FEED), which is training farmers in new and sustainable agricultural technologies.
The National Conservation Commission (NCC) has also launched a Tree Donation program, aiming to plant 20,000 trees by Arbor Day in September 2020. Individuals, groups and companies are being asked to donate trees. Companies who donate at least 50 trees can become Corporate Forest Partners. The trees will be planted in the new National Botanical Gardens at Waterford, St. Michael. The organisers of the Vision 2020 – We Gatherin’ program also aim to plant a further 600,000 trees at the Botanical Gardens. President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya promised to contribute a Kenyan-themed garden to the National Botanical Gardens on his recent official trip to Barbados. The Kenyan Government has an area of two acres with which to make the garden and have already sent personnel to begin inspection of the grounds.
The island already has a number of private garden spaces which operate as tourist attractions and event venues. Some popular gardens are Flower Forest, Orchid World, Hunte’s Gardens as well as Sugarland and Petrea Gardens often used for large events. All of these gardens and green spaces can form part of an authentic tourism product. Another beautiful garden space is Andromeda Gardens, which has recently complained of a decrease in visitors because of a rumour that they were closed for business. The establishment of a National Botanical Garden in a central location is welcomed news.
Barbados has for decades focused on construction and infrastructure, seemingly forgetting about the importance of sustainability and feeding our people with locally produced foods as well as engaging with nature and having space for peace and tranquility without needing to travel overseas.
Slowly the importance of agricultural and recreational spaces is becoming clearer to Barbadians as we struggle with stress-related illnesses and high food import bills. The National Botanical Garden will take some time to develop, but in time it will become a much-needed oasis from the hustle and bustle of the city.