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Youth interested in agriculture – SVP launches food initiative

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVP) National President’s Youth Food Basket 2021 can be the opening to get more youth members into the SVP.

San Raphael Conference President Natasha Boodhan said she was using the Food Basket 2021 to encourage and invite new members.

At the online launch on July 17, she said two young members were recruited in the past two weeks.  Ahead of the launch, the SVP invited the public to join SVP youth and post their photos and videos of gardens, kitchen gardens, grow boxes etc. Boodhan said after introducing the project idea in a meeting, she got 18 photos the following day.

She said ochroes, pimentos, and cucumber seedlings were planted in their kitchen gardens. “Youth do have a love for planting, for sharing and giving of their time. This is just the start of our journey for recruiting more youth.”

She added that planting and seeing the benefits of their hard work would attract young members to the SVP and hoped to start a youth arm of SVP in San Raphael. Boodhan looked forward to having produce for sale and to share with parishioners in need.

Youth member Linus Salvador, of the SVP Conference, St Joseph RC, Scarborough said as the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted many, it was important to treat agriculture and food with respect.

“In times like these, in a crisis, it is very important that we learn about nutrition and nourishment. My love for planting is based on connecting with the earth, even interacting and so forth with the plants as well.”

Salvador said persons with land could do something extraordinary with it by planting. The garden at the St Joseph RC had cucumbers, bodi, passion fruit, sorrel, bananas, plantain, tomatoes, ochro, melongene, hot peppers, sweet peppers, pimentos, kale.

Head of the Tobago Conference Nigel Phillip said parish priest Fr Leslie Tang Kai and a parishioner Jerry Ali were instrumental in the garden project coming together.

Before Covid, some of the produce was shared with parishioners and sold after Mass on weekends. From the produce, pepper sauce and relishes were made and sold; the money raised went to help parishioners requiring assistance.

The SVP’s garden project at its Home for the Aged at Mason Hall has chadon beni, mint, rosemary, bananas, kale, cucumbers, and sweet peppers. These are used by the Home to cut down on its food bill. Phillip said the Food Basket project encourages “young people to start from young” in agriculture.

At the launch, on-site presentations were shown by Timothy Aguilera of Holy Family RC church, Todd’s Road and Ainsley Lewis at the Heights of Guanapo, Arima, and from Moruga and Carenage.

Lewis said his family has been sharing produce from their land even before the pandemic. “We have been planting from a very young age and we love what we do,” he said of himself and his sibling, Raymond.

Moderator at the launch was Shastrina Sinanan of the Brazil SVP Conference.

A release from the SVPTT prior to the launch stated the project has two objectives: to engage youths directly in agricultural production and enable to have a stake in food security, while contributing to charitable needs within various communities throughout Trinidad and Tobago. —LPG

Photo by Lettuce Grow on Unsplash