A sustainable Bermuda is in our own back yard
Getting back to nature. That’s what it can take for Bermuda to become the perfect paradise many only reminisce about.
From planting, reaping and sharing the benefits of our harvest, Bermuda can get back to its roots, according to Omari Dill, who is working in partnership with Greenrock to help launch the second phase of the Healthy Harvest Project and encourage more Bermudians to eat as natural as possible.
Mr Dill’s business, appropriately called Utopia, brings a new meaning to the term landscape gardener.
“I have a long history of farmers in my family,” explains Mr Dill. “It skipped a few generations but for some reason it hit me and I love being in the dirt.”
Utopia provides consultancy on sustainable agriculture and edible landscapes, so along with making your garden look pretty Mr Dill will also put it to work to produce food.
“Edible landscaping is the twist to trick people into farming,” he says. “If it looks pretty people will appreciate it more and continue to do it for themselves.”
Utopia and the Healthy Harvest Project seemed like a match made in heaven, says Mr Dill.
After spending four years at the Earth University in Costa Rica studying sustainable agriculture techniques, Mr Dill was shocked at the state of Bermuda when he returned to work as an assistant agricultural officer with the Department of Parks.
“Bermuda is so largely away from the mindset of food production and sustainable development. We’re so oblivious to what’s going on.”
During his studies, Mr Dill took comfort in the university’s 8,100-acre property in the tropical rainforest in Costa Rica and revelled in the early morning work spent in the fields and the multicultural mixture of the student body.
Determined to see changes in Bermuda after his two-year stint with Government, Mr Dill started Utopia. Although he often considered giving up on Bermuda, he knew he needed to do more to get his Island home to wake up to the serious issues we face in the future sustaining our food supply.
“Just when I thought all hope was gone, Greenrock approached me about the Healthy Harvest Programme,” explains Mr Dill. “It’s just the beginning but it’s a beautiful marriage and there is so much potential. We have the same ideas and the same momentum.”
With a similar passion and drive to get Bermudians to start making more sustainable choices, the initiative has taken off.
“Healthy Harvest takes any piece of land that’s available that can be used to harvest food to help sustain Bermuda. There’s really no reason we should be relying on so much food being imported when we can sustain ourselves.”
But many may look around our Island and wonder where we’re meant to get the space to feed a community.
Mr Dill says: “It’s not a question about space. You can use raised beds, start rooftop gardens, pieces of land you don’t want to sell or develop there are plenty of ideas out there no matter what sort of space you have to work with.”
Providing the land, services and/or labour brings in the community aspect of the project, he adds.
“Agriculture brings together communities. Immediately, it creates a sense of community as people find their niche and work together to help their community.
“Whatever the piece of land and whatever the people who own the land want to do with it, they can. Healthy Harvest is simply serving as a catalyst to bring people together. Whether it be a community gardening project, school land or private garden, not every piece of land is ideal for everything and so you create that cooperative mentality.”
The small size of the Island, he says, can actually benefit this type of community growing project.
“We rub elbows every day and it’s not uncommon for us to know someone, so this is easy for us to do across the Island. I use the barter system as much as possible through my business and it can work so beautifully here. I feel like money really takes away that human relationship.”
Through the initiative Mr Dill also hopes that more people will take an interest in where their food comes from.
“People need to start asking where exactly is our food coming from, how is it really produced and how does our consumption affect the world,” says Mr Dill.
“Why rely on somebody else to grow it if you can do it yourself in your own back yard?”
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