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May 21, 2021
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May 22, 2021

The Green Army keeps environmental discussions alive

As the local Church joins Catholics around the globe in celebrating Laudato Si’ Week May 16-25, Catholic News caught up with Green Army—a local national movement comprising business persons whose mission is to brand Trinidad and Tobago as ‘The Green Capital of the Caribbean’— on how they are keeping the discussion on the environment alive.

This mission, however, goes beyond clean-up projects and recycling initiatives. In fact, through a series of environmental, agricultural and disaster relief projects, Green Army promotes clean business and green communities, a mission they say, requires the help of every citizen of Trinidad and Tobago. “Every parent, every child. All event planners and every patron.”

Green Army promotes proactive, not reactive change. It’s less about finding channels to dispose of waste, and more about educating and encouraging the public to make lifestyle changes in the way they treat with our environment so that there is less waste produced in the first place.

They offer green certification to eco-friendly businesses, work with event planners to create green spaces for their events, ensure that functions, events and locations across T&T remain clean and green and coordinate recycle drives and clean-up projects throughout the country.

Influence of Covid on agricultural economy

As Covid-19 has forced a massive pause and recalibration in daily life, it has also sparked renewed interest in agriculture as a viable alternative for sustainable living.

Cognisant that the present lockdown has resulted in loss of jobs, less income and ultimately, less food on the table for many, the movement asserts one “positive” of the pandemic is the opportunity to invest in agricultural sustainability.

“Let us help the government to reduce the food and import bill in Trinidad and Tobago. We can each begin by planting our own garden. It’s a start in the right direction,” the network asserts.

Speaking to Catholic News via phone, campaign founder Kristal Manswell said the network has realised “you can’t continue asking for hampers, because people who were accustomed doing hampers are no longer employed.”

Hence, agriculture was seen as a practical and sustainable means of helping the less fortunate.

“When Covid hit, that cemented a problem on two sides, not just the side that people were not employed and less income and an increased need for food, but the source of our food. We came up with a concept to be able to supply and when we think of agriculture and sustainability, a hamper may cost $500 for one person, but when you buy $500 in seedlings, that can feed multiple families,” Manswell said.

Green Army has undertaken the concept of developing community gardens by cultivating land to get a consistent supply of fresh food, in order to donate to the elderly and feed the less fortunate in repressed communities, all year round. La Horquetta already had a garden and another is in progress in Valencia.

While this initiative is community-based, Manswell stressed that it’s a nationwide initiative.

She outlined that the network will be visiting Tobago later this month, to develop community gardens in Goodwood, Buccoo, Scarborough, and Crown Point. Questioned on the concern of praedial larceny, Manswell said “we pray.”

She however asserted, “We have had no issues with theft so far.”

The first site, Goodwood, will be set up in June.

“We haven’t done community gardens [in Tobago] but Green Army was active in Tobago…we’ve done projects there ….”

Commenting on how these communities were chosen, Manswell said that the network would first examine the population figure. They usually select areas that are heavily populated as this will gauge community buy-in and sustainability of the project.

The Green Army team cultivates a mixture of short- and long-term crops such as cassava, banana, plantain, dasheen, tomatoes, pak choi and cucumbers.

Manswell outlined that among its many initiatives, their most historical was when they collected 800 tons of waste from Great Fete Weekend in Tobago.

“That was a great moment of Tobago history because it was never done before,” Manswell said.

Green Army has recognized that for many youths, a life of crime is considered their only option. As such, the network has continued to create opportunities for youths in depressed communities by promoting and encouraging youth entrepreneurship.

The network has created a Green Army Grow Club, an initiative aimed at boosting interest in agricultural production and environmental sustainability, by encouraging and teaching organic home gardening and farming techniques. The group comprises expert agriculturalists, amateur home gardeners as young as four years old, and farmers, who are all dedicated in sustainable food production and community service.

Green Army will be producing community gardens in Diego Martin, Valencia and Tacarigua. If you are interested in joining the mission, contact: 723-5528

By Kaelanne Jordan