Augustine Williams, President of the Abaco Agricultural Co-op, said that the co-op is in the process of starting a program to help Patrick J Bethel High School with its agricultural curriculum.
The present agriculture teacher at PJB, Sweavon Smith, would like to add a chicken coop to his present endeavor which consists so far of growing vegetables. Mr. Smith is hoping that raising “broilers” will allow the school to make money to develop more land and grow more crops.
A drawing for the coop has been made and as a co-op representative, Mr. Williams is in the process of securing some funds or material to help. So far, he contacted local hardware stores, banks and local government officials and is hoping for favourable responses which will allow the coop to be built before the end of the school year.
A PJB teacher, Shavon Reed, organized a fund raiser on February 14 through the Anchor Club of which she is a member. All the proceeds were donated to the school project.
Mr. Williams said that Murphy Town Committee Chairman, Gilbert Davis was excited about the project and has promised to help.
Mr. Williams thinks that young people should develop a mind set about growing crops which would reduce the imports of produce into the country and made the future generations self-sufficient. He also said that growing produce locally ensures that fresh and wholesome food will reach the tables of local people. He is determined to make people, especially young people, understand that their future depends on local agriculture.
Explaining that the Department of Agriculture has school programs to that effect, he deplores that “so far they are not going anywhere.”
“There has been talks from government agencies about feeding ourselves”, he said, but so far it is all talk. So he is starting an awareness campaign to encourage the local population to start growing vegetables; they could start by having a home garden, he urged.
On February 18, Mr. Williams and Mr. Emilin Sawyer, another Co-op member, met with Mr. Smith at PJB. They inspected the preliminary set-up of the coop- a 20ft x 15ft structure or bigger if donations of funds or material are coming- which will be completely enclosed over a cement slab for hygienic purposes.
Around the location of the coop, beds of cabbages and peppers are growing healthily.
Mr. Smith has hundred and thirty students from grade seven to twelve enrolled in the agricultural program. “And they are very enthusiastic,” he mentioned.