Island Academy International is another educational institution in Antigua that is committed to the importance of agricultural production as an important component of learning.
Ms. Kate Wright, a primary and secondary teacher who leads the agricultural programme, said that the school has a small garden with vegetables which they call the “Tire Garden”, a Pineapple Patch, and a Garden with just Flowers which they refer to as “The Rainforest.”
During an interview with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Communications Unit, Ms. Wright spoke of the students` interest and involvement, the crops which they grow, the support which they have received and the challenges which they face with maintaining the garden.
Crops such as zucchini, tomatoes, pepper, carrots, lettuce, okra, rosemary and fruits such as pineapples and melons are currently being grown.
Ms. Wright stated that she encourages the practice of “Seed to fork”, and informs the students that it is much healthier to know what they’re eating and what is being used in the production of these foods.
She is hoping that soon enough, they will be able to expand and have enough for the canteen to use in the preparation of meals.
Ms. Wright said that having the students themselves reap the fruits and vegetables and show them how to prepare them and eat them as well, are important factors to life- long learning.
“The students are very much involved and interested; every day they come out and help me pull weeds and water the crops,” said Ms. Wright.
She also thinks that having such a program in school is very important as it teaches the children responsibility from a young age.
According to Ms. Wright, every morning, the students are responsible for checking the plants and watering them. This, according to Ms. Wright, also shows them how to take care of delicate things.
“The garden and gardening can be very meditational for some students as they deal with the stress of school and exams,” stated Ms. Wright.
The garden also provides an avenue for students to socialize better with each other, as they would have to work together and interact.
Ms. Wright noted that this is good as it has been observed that they get along even better during an activity like gardening.
The school receives a lot of support which ranges from monetary contributions, to tires and seeds.
Ms. Wright indicated that the school’s Parent Organization gave money to purchase the necessary equipment/material such as shovels and soil.
They have also received donations from Caribbean Lottery; they were given plant labels for their garden, seeds, and plants.
Two workers also come to the school and reorganized the entire garden and even planted seeds and plants.
The school has also received tires from a student’s parent who owns a tire shop.
These tires were used to place the plants on the same level of the students for ease of duty when tending to the plants or harvesting crops.
They have named this garden with the vegetables “The Tire Garden.”
Although they have received so much support, they are still often faced with numerous challenges, one of which is the type of soil which tends to hold water.
Clay soil, according to Ms. Wright is a major problem as its water retention capability is very high and this issue results in them having to buy soil.
Due to this factor, it takes much longer for the soil to dry out which for some plants, root penetration is very difficult which gives them more work to make the soil more suitable.
Island Academy International comprises a primary, secondary and tertiary school.