Sun | Dec 11, 2016

New Forest Primary cuts Costs with Greenhouse

Published:Saturday | March 14, 2015 | 12:00 AMTamara Bailey
Tamara Bailey photos Agriculture students (from left) Steven Davidson and Devontae Brooks with Agriculture teacher Owen Lyle, wrapping sweet pepper trees in the greenhouse at the New Forest Primary and Junior High School.

New Forest, Manchester:

Imagine if schools across Jamaica were able to add to national development with the consistent production of farming produce. Does it sound possible? It should, because the New Forest Primary and Junior High School is already making strides in that department through its greenhouse initiative.

Having established the 6000 square-foot greenhouse in November 2013 with a donation of J$2.7 million from the Digicel Foundation, the first crop of sweet peppers, cocktail tomatoes and table tomatoes, planted in January of 2014, were fully yielded in November of 2014 and the earnings have seen a promising reduction in school expenses.

"The school cannot consume all that the greenhouse produces and so most of it is sold and while the prices were not what we expected, we were able to cut our school expenses by J$150,000 for the period," said principal, Arnaldo Allen

With the school-feeding programme also benefiting tremendously from the greenhouse, strengthened extra-curricular activities, improved school projects and increased academic opportunities are among the benefits already received.

"In terms of generating funds, it has assisted the school greatly in that the first set of farm products that were yielded - the funds from that was used to begin the retaining wall by the playing field and will be completed as this year's Labour Day project."

He continued, "For me, I'm even more excited now about the success of the greenhouse because, come September, we are going to have our first grade 7 cohort to start our high school. I am one of those who want the children to look away from agriculture as being a machete/file kind of profession and it is for those who have nothing to do. Rather, they need to see it as a science, because without the science of agriculture, mankind would be nonexistent ... and so with this greenhouse, we are expecting those who go up to the CSEC level in agriculture will do well."

Fully managed and maintained by the students with teacher supervision, agriculture teacher at the school, Owen Lyle, said students have become even more receptive of the greenhouse offerings and the subject area.

"The school is benefiting in more ways than one: the children are very receptive and are reenergised for the area of agriculture. When it just began, they were curious and excited and even now, on a daily basis, there are students who are interested in the growth and the success of the greenhouse."

With an Agro park project, an initiative of the Ministry of Agriculture, established just a few miles away and local farmers adapting to the viability of a greenhouse, it was expressed that the environment is becoming more conducive for students learning the art of independence and self- sustenance.

Without a clear projection for what we will be yielded from the greenhouse next, both principal and agriculture teacher are expecting greater things to come and have expressed sincere gratitude for having been afforded this opportunity to provide for students, community and in the very near future the export market.

rural@gleanerjm.com