Plan to help schools produce compost, grow food

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Compost is a gardener’s best friend: It improves the drainage of heavy clay soil, increases the moisture-holding capacity of sand and adds high-quality nutrients. –

Richard Sebro, president of Central Pathfinders, an environmental NGO, is pushing for a cultural change to prevent leaving a junk heap behind.

“Young people would be the catalyst for change,” he said on Wednesday during the launch of the National Gas Company (NGC) and Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) food waste compost campaign.

The launch’s main themes were national sustainability and composition. It took place at Bishop Anstey High School East in Trincity.

Sebro said composting represents a crucial step towards sustainability. He urged the youths in attendance to take an active role, recognising them as the leaders of tomorrow. He said, “It is essential that we build a paradise here for future generations.”

Sebro also introduced the Captain Turner machine, designed to convert kitchen scraps into organic fertiliser. This device can hold up to ten kilos of waste and transform it into fertiliser within six weeks, diverting 100 kilos of waste from landfills, where it emits dangerous methane gas.

Nadine Baptiste-Emmons, the principal of Cunupia Secondary School, said schools play a vital role in shaping society. She hoped the experiences gained through this endeavour would resonate beyond the school’s walls.

Baptiste-Emmons highlighted the educational benefits of the Captain Turner, which align with her school’s “constructivist paradigm through learning.”

She said the machine not only aids in sustainable practices but also allows the school to create organic manure for its farm, reduce costs, and address issues like rodent infestations and the giant African snail.

She proudly noted her school’s 90 per cent success rate in agriculture at the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) level.

Education Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly applauded the NGC-CNG food waste initiative. She also called for a cultural transformation through education, saying it can help reduce the national food import bill. She reflected on lessons learned during the covid19 pandemic, emphasising the need for self-sufficiency in food production and calling for healthier eating practices to reduce non-communicable diseases.

She said her ministry has mandated every school to have a kitchen garden, a move aimed at providing young people with valuable experience in sustainable agriculture. She encouraged young people not only to grow food but also to consume what they produce.

She concluded, “If we want a different outcome, we must do things differently.”