'Eat what you grow' slogan catches on at St Thomas Infirmary
Jolyn Bryan, Gleaner Writer
MORANT BAY, St Thomas:THE RESIDENTS and staff of the St Thomas Infirmary have proved that it is possible to follow the slogan 'Eat what you grow, grow what you eat', utilising the grounds of their institution to grow most of the food that isprepared in their kitchen.
At the recent staging of the Jamaica Agricultural Society Annual Agricultural Expo in Morant Bay, the infirmary showcased produce from its own farm, planted and tended by residents and porters. Some of the goods on sale were callaloo, peppers, melons, pak choi, coconuts and a variety of mangoes. Also on sale were eggs - for $550 per flat, and $250 per dozen - and chicken at $150 per pound, all produced by the infirmary.
The poultry programme, a collaboration between the Ministry of Local Govern-ment and Community Development and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations, was implemented in 2009 and has been a great success since.
The programme has seen the expansion of a poultry house and the installation of a slaughter house, as well as the upgrade of a storage room for feed and other miscellaneous supplies. Funding for the endeavour came from the UN, the St Thomas Parish Council, and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority.
The poultry programme and farm serve a purpose additional to that of providing food and disposable income for the infirmary. The activities of farming and tending to chickens are invaluable to the residents who take part as it provides a sense of purpose as well as accomplishment for those who would otherwise feel useless.
Not all of the residents are able to participate, but all benefit from the proceeds. For those who cannot get involved in such strenuous activities, the administration has implemented a craft programme on every third Wednesday that also generates additional income. Assisted by the St Thomas Senior Citizens' Association and various churches in the parish, the residents produce beautifully crafted pieces of jewellery.
These programmes are instrumental in buying supplies that are needed on a daily basis at the infirmary and sometimes contribute to the budget when there is a shortfall. The infirmary also ensures, through these programmes, that the rising price of food does not greatly affect its ability to provide nutritional and tasty meals to the residents under its care.