Greenhouse installed by community council: Tobago farmers trained in hydroponics

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

In this 2021 photo, former THA chief secretary Ancil Dennis looks at crops being grown at the Edmond Joseph-owned Majestik Growers farm in Mason Hall, Tobago. According to Caribbean Chemicals managing director Joe Pires, TT should use its low energy costs to grow crops using hydroponics and aquaponics, and in greenhouses. PHOTO COURTESY OFFICE OF THE CHIEF SECRETARY –

A hydroponics greenhouse project has been installed by the Hampden/ Lowlands/ Auchenskeoch Community Council.

The community council will supervise the greenhouse produce, which includes celery, chives, lettuce and kale, first harvested in August 2023.

Speaking at the commissioning on Thursday at the multi-purpose facility nearby, president of the council, Lyndy-Anne Parks, said she was grateful to Habitat for Humanity for what she referred to as “planting that seed.”

“I really want to thank you for planting that seed – a memorandum of understanding was signed with the organisation to have projects such as these done. It started there, and the process from there on has been one of collaboration – collaboration with the Tobago House of Assembly.

“The process would have gone on seeking approvals and so on from the THA and then, of course, getting things started. Having the sod turning and then from the sod turning, we had the construction of the greenhouse.”

The greenhouse was prefabricated in Trinidad and mounted over one weekend. She said after the mounting and planting, training was provided for the farmers.

“They (the farmers) had to take the thing and run with it and be there checking because the hydroponics system – yes, you’ve heard about hydroponics but I did not have that deep understanding of what hydroponics was.

“It is only being in the process of realising how scientific it is. It may look a bit easier than the regular agricultural type of system, but it is something that you have to pay attention to and monitor for it to be successful.”

Director of Habitat for Humanity Jennifer Massiah said that the completion of this particular greenhouse followed several months of planning that began in 2022. She said it gives great pleasure to see green leaves.

“I look back, and I say covid19 has not only caused challenges, rather covid19 has caused great opportunities – you just have to look. The opportunities came after, and that’s why we are here because of covid19, we were able to say, ‘Let us see what we can do to make Tobago get on the habitat map in very significant ways.’”

She said the discussions would continue.

The initiative sponsor is Republic Bank Ltd. The bank’s area manager, Auriol Small, said she believes this greenhouse symbolises what the community represents.

“A perfect intersection of tradition, progress and sustainability. Traditions are upheld because the people of Lowlands have long appreciated the land for the serenity that it offers.

“The opportunities for income generation that these surroundings provide and for the nourishment it gives.

“Progress is reflected in the fact that you are growing food in this greenhouse using modern agricultural techniques such as hydroponics. “Sustainability is demonstrated by your ownership of this project as a community, it is of you, by you and for you and it is in that light that I know the people of the community would do everything you can to make this initiative an ongoing success.”

Electoral representative for the area, Wane Clarke, commended the council on this initiative.

“When you have an organisation within a community that is willing to partner with others, it tells you that they will grow, and they will be successful because they’re not only relying on their own self. They are prepared to partner with and rely on other people’s contribution, knowledge and whatever they have to bring to the table.”