Schools in St Mary are to benefit from an initiative started by farmers in the parish that is aimed at establishing a one-stop centre for a wide range of food items schools generally use in their canteens.
The farmers have launched the Elliott Farmers Community Enterprise, which includes farmers from communities such as Highgate, Guys Hill, and Richmond, with farmers from Annotto Bay, Port Maria, and other communities expected to get on board.
Founder and president Marvalee Russell, who is a trained nutritionist and a teacher, believes that schools and farmers alike will benefit from the initiative.
“Elliott Farmers Community Enterprise was formed in April 2016. We are a registered JAS (Jamaica Agricultural Society) group,” Russell said in a recent interview with The Gleaner.
Working With Schools
“The farmers’ group is interested in providing food to the schools produced on the farm to be sold for their nutrition programmes. The students will be the recipients of these meals, so we’re very interested in working with schools.” Russell said that farmers currently have produce, and schools can order whatever they need.
“We currently have farm produce, so the schools can order from us – Irish potato, cabbage, carrot, yam, cocoa, banana, fruits, vegetables, just about anything that they use in their canteen.
“We are connected to the JAS, so once we know what the schools need, we can produce for them. As farmers, we have to produce to meet the demands, so we are waiting for the schools to come on board so that persons can actually start planting to meet the demands, she said.”
Russell, who teaches at St Mary Technical High School, said that the school is already benefiting from the programme.
“St Mary Technical High School, so far, has been supporting this venture, and we have spoken to other principals in the region, and they are willing to support this venture.”
While providing for the schools, the farmers will maintain production for the general public, Russell pointed out.
Clement Goldson, a member of the group, said that while the group’s main focus is agriculture, they also have other interests.