Curtis Campbell, Gleaner Writer
Rootz Underground band has been consistently promoting agriculture through its music and actions over the years, and recently enjoyed further expansion of its Releaf Environmental Awareness Programme (REAP) at Denham Town Primary.
The event was a collaborative effort among the band, LASCO and Sandals, among other companies, and attended by reggae band No-Maddz, reggae artiste Keida and veteran artiste Half Pint.
From a podium erected in the school's parking lot, the students of Denham Town Primary were socialised on the importance of supporting Jamaica's goods and services, in line with this year's theme 'Eat locally, think globally'.
Denham Town's member of parliament, Desmond McKenzie, was also present at the event, and he endorsed all things Jamaican while at the same time encouraging the youth to pay attention to issues of national importance.
"I want to say how happy we are in Denham Town that we have been given the privilege to host this event. It means a lot to the children and means a lot to the citizens; 14 of the 22 markets in Kingston and St Andrew are located right here in West Kingston. So the importance of supporting local business and eating locally is important. It's not all about Cheez Trix and bag juice. It's about getting the right food necessary and all of that is available through local products," McKenzie said.
There were short performances from St Jago Preparatory, Ra Deal, Keida, and No-Maddz. The event also included Rootz Underground's school tree-planting programme and saw McKenzie and members of the sponsorship team planting trees in the school's garden.
According to Rootz Underground's lead singer and organiser of the event, Stephen Newland, the event is now on autopilot after a successful year.
He revealed that the initiative started with 50 schools and together they were able to recycle over 40,000 plastic bottles in seven months, in addition to planting 4,000 trees across the island.
Newman says REAP is now aiming to accommodate 100 schools under the programme and will also spread to prep schools.
"We are environmentalists and musicians. We don't want to just do things out of the island and we decided to start with the children because they are the future, and the trees that are planted today, they will grow with them. It's the wave of the new thinking of Jamaica, eating locally is not just eating in a restaurant in Jamaica, what it means is eating food produced in Jamaica," he said.
According to Rootz Underground lead singer, eating Jamaican will provide employment, increase the GDP and improve the standard of living for locals. He also said membership in the REAP initiative doesn't require an entry fee or expensive gear.
Kelia Dunbar, marketing manager at LASCO Distributors' Consumer Division, says the company was enlightened during the progression of the initiative on just how big a deal the preservation of the environment is. Dunbar explained that the destruction of Jamaica's environment is something that should be curtailed and that REAP and LASCO were working together to get other companies to assist in the recycling process.
LASCO also gave out samples of their products and goody bags containing various locally produced commodities.
Half Pint was one of the celebrity planters on the day, and before immersing his tree, he explained to The Gleaner just how important planting trees was.
According to the reggae act, humans and trees depend on each other for their respective existence, therefore, it should be the responsibility of human beings to plant trees because the latter provide oxygen.
Rootz Underground recently returned from a two-month European and United States tour. The group is also gearing up to release an album in February 2014 called The Return of the Righteous.
The band also has eyes set on embarking on a spring tour.
REAP was also sponsored by RJR Communications Group, BH Paint, Headline Entertainment, Lithographic Printers, and The Gleaner.