by Kareem Smith
The thousands of students flocking to Queens Park from early Friday morning revealed that another year of AgroFest 2019 has begun and the island’s children are taking advantage.
From nursery to secondary schools students, explored the entertainment, agricultural exhibits, food and entrepreneurial products on display.
While Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society James Paul reported some challenges with transporting students from some rural schools, he was pleased with the turnout and the high level of student participation.
“From the point of view of the schools involvement, I think we have something we can build on. We will see even after AgroFest is finished that there are some initiatives we intend to continue in the schools to help facilitate that.
“We have been looking at products that will interest children and they have been very involved so I am pleased to see the turnout of schools,” said Paul.
Pointing to the culinary and kitchen garden competitions, which attracted 10 schools each, he said it would provide much needed practical experience to supplement theoretical training in the classroom.
“We talk constantly about trying to introduce practical skills to students in terms of helping them apply the theoretical knowledge with a practical application of that knowledge in their society.
“What we want to do in the future is to accommodate specific programs of study and at AgroFest we want them to create programs to show how these things fit into real life and real work situations. To achieve this, we need to get the involvement of the teachers.”
One school that took the challenge seriously was the Maria Holder Nursery School at Sharon Primary. One teacher, Gail Carter, revealed that the school’s Clover Buds, a younger version of the Lester Vaughn School’s 4H club, was actively involved and had an exhibit on display.
“We have a garden and a lot of recycled work – plant pots using bottle caps and clay shells. The children have been doing lots of work with their hands and everything they are doing goes along with the national curriculum because they are growing their own plants and developing their fine motor skills and they’re having fun while they’re learning.”
Meanwhile, Jared Trotman, owner of Trottz Official which specializes in the sale of custom made slippers, revealed that his initiative had gained tremendous interest from the students. He welcomed the mix of agricultural products on display along with other small business, but offered some words of advice for facilitators.
“As I look around, I think that there still needs to be a lot of improvement in terms of brand awareness in relation to Barbadian products.
In relation to AgroFest he added: “I think they should try to do something a bit fresh because every year it’s a similar thing. They are definitely trying some new things, but I think that the offerings and the setup could be improved with a different look and by getting more of the young entrepreneurs [involved],” he said. (KS)