Twelve vulnerable women who left the education system without any formal certification have received sponsorship to study organic farming, health, nutrition, climate change, community action and sustainability.
They will participate in the month-long, live-in programme at Richmond Vale Academy in Richmond, St. Vincent.
The “Growing Climate Change Adaptation Capacity through the Mobilisation, Training and Empowerment of Vulnerable Young Women” programme takes place in January 2019.
The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives is financing the women’s participation in the project.
Participants will be involved in structured courses and workshops and will gain hands-on practical experience through volunteerism and community service, as well as literacy, numeracy and computer training and information technology skills.
“We believe that, coupled with the technical knowledge of climate change adaptation techniques and organic farming, for improved nutrition and health, participants will attain the necessary leadership, entrepreneurial and other skills needed to become innovative leaders and change-makers in climate change technologies,” said Stina Herberg, principal of Richmond Vale Academy.
Herberg added: “These women can become the voices that champion improved environmental awareness, food security and nutrition at the community level.”
The live-in programme incorporates intensive and interactive sessions and workshops, evening programmes, and mentoring by prominent individuals and organisations.
The programme also aims to raise awareness and understanding of climate change, while providing a strong focus on empowering women to take an active role in the solutions to environmental challenges.
It will also provide practical experience in the establishment of model gardens.
There will also be some emphasis on volunteerism, mobilising communities and raising awareness. Practical experience in this regard will be gained by planting 300 trees of high nutritional and economic value, namely moringa, avocado and soursop. This exercise is done in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture.
Herberg said that by the end of the project, the 12 vulnerable young women will have been engaged in the development process through their understanding of the role of citizens, government agencies, and non-governmental organisations in protecting and conserving natural resources.
The women will also have been mobilised to improve nutrition and health outcomes of their own and other vulnerable segments (children and women) of the populations, through the availability of foods that would increase intake of vegetables and fruits, decrease caloric and increase micronutrient intake.
Herberg said that Richmond Vale Academy hopes that through the project, more people will begin planting model gardens and become aware of the benefits of resilient farming methods.
“By planting 300 trees, in addition to the 30 existing model gardens, the families of the 12 young women and the surrounding communities will all benefit from high nutritional value moringa, avocado and soursop — which will also improve soil use and generate income,” Herberg said.
RVA is situated on 30 acres of land and practices low carbon, high biodiversity farming: which forms the base line for The Pass-It-On: Sustainable Model Garden Project. A number of vegetables, herbs and fruits are produced in the intensive organic garden and the 1-acre food forest. New innovative farming methods are used and taught: using compost, biochar, water harvesting, organic pesticides and free-range chicken production.
The public is welcome to contact the academy to join a future course.