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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Patterson-Maura

Tackling Food Security with Education

If you've been following our blogs you probably have heard about our Sustainable Livelihoods Program. Friends of the Environment aims to work with community partners to expose recent high school graduates to career and learning opportunities in fields that relate to island sustainability. This was developed out of needs and challenges we experienced and observed after Hurricane Dorian. Our most recent apprenticeship cohort wrapped up last month and was hosted by Driftwood Food Company in South Abaco, and sponsored by Tourism Cares.

We recently sat down with our partners from Driftwood Food Company, Glen and Tracy

Kelly, to hear about their experience leading the program. Glen and Tracy own and operate a hydroponic farm, orchard, and mobile chicken coops which produce eggs and assist with pest control on the farm. Glen and Tracy have been farming in Abaco since 2012 and have dedicated themselves to providing quality products in a sustainable way. This made them perfect partners for the project! We wanted to share the program with you because we'll have another opportunity for two students to be involved in the fall!

Glen and Tracy have a small team, so they shared that they were grateful for the extra hands our apprentices provided and encouraged by their enthusiasm to learn. Apprentices Keevana Russell and Lorenz Carter participated in all aspects of farm operation, from planting and harvesting to sales and maintenance. This gave Keevana and Lorenz the opportunity to gain first hand experience on what is required to operate a produce farm. Coming in to the program, Lorenz wasn't sure about his long term goals, but at the end he was able to say that he wants to start farming and focus on providing vegetables for his customers. His favorite part of the program "was harvesting the salads that I had planted myself. It was great to see how they grew over time and then when it was time for market the salad sold out immediately."

Lorenz inspects the mobile chicken coop.
Keevana takes a hand at driving the farm tractor.

"My long term goal is to start farming and focus primarily on vegetables. I hope to be a consistent and trustworthy supplier to the community" - Lorenz Carter

Keevana had never driven a tractor before, but that didn't hold her back! She explained that her favorite part of the apprenticeship was "Interacting, gaining knowledge and understanding of things that I didn’t know about before and also having the opportunity to participate in this wonderful experience."She aims to pursue a career in computer science, but has gained a valuable understanding of how individuals, through their food choices, can impact individual and environmental health. She and Glen also discussed how computer technology can play a role in agriculture.

We are proud of our apprentices and wish them the best on their future endeavors! Through this experience, Lorenz and Keevana have gained a better understanding of how sustainable farming can assist with food security and disaster response. Our hope is that they take this knowledge with them and apply it to their daily lives and even their future careers.

We would like to send a special thank you to Tourism Cares for making this opportunity possible, and to Glen and Tracy Kelly and their farm family for being such welcoming mentors.

At the end of the apprenticeship, Glen and Tracy held a small awards ceremony for Lorenz and Keevana presenting them with "Farm Survival Certificates", served refreshments of fresh fruit and finished with a lively game of volleyball.

If you are a recent high school graduate (within 5 years) and are interested in learning more about hydroponic farming in Abaco, please stay tuned or reach out to us! We will have another apprenticeship in the fall. We will accept applications, however the formal opportunity won't be posted until later this summer.

If you are interested in supporting the Sustainable Livelihoods program through funds or community leadership, please contact us! We are always interested in discussing new opportunities and ideas for apprenticeships.

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