Bid to maintain home farms after Covid-19 scare dies down
Maintenance of a growth in home farming as the Covid-19 pandemic winds down is the goal for an agricultural business this year.
Chris Faria, the owner of the AgraLiving Institute, a sustainable farming business, said Covid-19 restrictions propelled people towards the business after he started it in September 2020.
But he added that, as people became used to regular grocery shopping again, the biggest challenge was to keep the green thumb movement alive.
Mr Faria said: “When we first started, we were getting oversubscribed to our workshops.
“Now it takes a lot of marketing to just get a few people because already we are comfortable again.”
He added: “Everybody’s had the experience after lockdown of going to the grocery store with your mask on and not being sure what you’ll find inside.
“That little bit of insecurity did scare people.”
“But now that little bit of fear has subsided and we’re just eager to get back to the way things were — even though they weren’t working anyway.”
The AgraLiving Institute offers classes and consultation on sustainable farming techniques.
Mr Faria said that many residents had learnt first-hand how fragile food security in Bermuda was.
He added that the realisation, combined with the desire to take up new hobbies, inspired many to start home gardening.
But Mr Faria said: “Fear causes people to make quick decisions, but it doesn’t cause sustainable lifestyle changes.
“To change behaviours, I think it needs to be more positive.”
Mr Faria said that he hoped to keep people interested in farming by reminders on how educational and useful it could be.
He said: “When it comes to farming, gardening and growing plants, the wonderful thing is that you could have done it for 100 years and every day is an opportunity to learn something different because we are learning from the plants.”
Mr Faria added that he was “blessed” that AgraLiving was still successful despite facing “all the challenges that come with starting a small business in the middle of a pandemic”.
He added: “I’m very fortunate to have a very fortunate community.
“We work together in the garden and the garden only exists because there is a community growing together here.
“They support me with all the education that we do.”
Mr Faria advised anyone who wanted to start home farming to begin with a 3ft-by-3ft plot of land and expanding it bit by bit.
He also advised new growers to find friends or groups who shared an interest in farming.
Mr Faria said: “Agriculture has worked over the last 12,000 years because we have worked together in groups as communities.
“At the same time that we are educating people on how to grow food, we are also connecting them to a community of sustainable growers.”
Mr Faria earlier criticised plans to promote vertical farming in Bermuda.
He said that the technique could be of some use, but was not a practical model for food production in Bermuda.
Mr Faria explained that the method needed water and electrical systems that would make production expensive, which would have a knock-on effect on the price of produce.
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