Jamaica 4-H Club starts backyard gardening ‘challenge’

AS part of its drive to intensify and strengthen subsistence farming to improve food production and food security, especially with the advent of COVID-19 pandemic, the Jamaica 4-H Clubs has launched an islandwide ‘Backyard Family Garden Challenge’.

The challenge, which started in May, will run over a three-month period and is open to Jamaica 4-H Club members as well as members of the public ages nine years and over, Bernetta Kerr, 4-H Clubs training and placement coordinator, stated.

“The main objectives of this challenge are to encourage Jamaicans to participate in food production for their families and communities. Additionally, the challenge will enable the entrants to display their creativity in which cash crops can be grown at home while promoting family nutrition, and just the sheer fun of family members working together,” Kerr said, adding that the challenge also became necessary in light of the current pandemic, which has brought into more focus the need for increased food security.

“The gardens can be a small plot of land, one’s backyard, or the use of containers with a focus on two or more cash crops such as cucumber, callaloo, lettuce, pak choi, cabbage, corn, or okra.

“The participants will have the option to submit videos or photos at the planting, growing and harvesting stages for judging, but during the process, guidance will be provided by the Jamaica 4-H Clubs through online training videos to cover topics such as potting of plants, water harvesting and planting procedures,” Kerr added.

According to the Jamaica 4-H Club, the top three gardens will gain bragging rights as the ‘Top Family Backyard Garden’, and winners will receive cash prizes and inputs to maintain their gardens. Additionally, the top 20 gardens will be featured online in the Jamaica 4-H Clubs’ backyard family garden catalogue.

The 4-H Club added that online peer evaluation will play a key role in the garden challenge. Members of the public will be invited to ‘like’ the submitted videos and photos on the Jamaica 4-H Clubs online platforms on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The highest number of ‘likes’ will be included in the overall judging criteria.

Prospective entrants can visit the Jamaica 4-H Clubs’ website — www.jamaica4hclubs.com — before the end of June to access the backyard garden challenge’s general guidelines and registration form.

— Patrick Foster

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