We should do more to grow our own food, says Minister
Hundreds flocked to the Botanical Gardens for the official opening of the 75th Agricultural Exhibition where Environment Minister Sylvan Richards led the official opening yesterday.
Under bright sunny skies he told the crowd gathered in the main ring that the rising cost of food should encourage more people to grow their own.
He noted that a vast number of people work hard each year to ensure that the show is a resounding success. And he stressed the importance of protecting Bermuda’s heritage “through agricultural and horticultural methods”.
“With the cost of food continuing to increase we should all be doing more to grow our own fruits and vegetables,” he said. “It’s a fun, healthy thing to do and eating healthy will help us live a more sustainable lifestyle.”
The Minister said he was pleased with the large turnout on the first day of the three-day event. “I’ve been coming to the Ag Show all of my life so it’s a pleasure to be here,” he said.
In an interview with this newspaper he suggested perhaps it’s time to get back to what used to be a big part of Bermuda’s culture.
“The prices in Bermuda are high and unfortunately I don’t think they’re coming down anytime soon. So the alternative is for more Bermudians to start growing their own food like our parents and our grandparents used to do,” said Mr Richards.
“Once you get into it, you start tilling the soil and planting your own seeds and watching it grow, there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes with that. You get the enjoyment factor and you also have the potential to bring down your monthly food costs.”
The Minister also said he was glad that the issues with local farmers leading up to the show were resolved.
“They’re here today, they submitted an entry as a group which is very positive because it shows that they’re willing to work together. The fruit and the vegetables that I saw from the farmers today looked spectacular, so all’s well that ends well,” he said.
Mr Richards also pledged to produce a new policy on genetically modified foods and he promised it will be a policy that’s best for Bermuda.
“It’s will be a collaborative effort, what we’re not going to do is do anything in isolation. We’re going to consult with the farmers, we’re going to work them, this Government supports the farmers because we want them to succeed.
“We will look at a new policy and consult and do what’s best for Bermuda going forward,” he said. But in the interim he was more than pleased with the show and he urged residents and visitors alike to support it.
“It’s like Cup Match, it’s like May 24, it’s the Ag Show and Bermuda Day is next so everybody come on out and have a good time.”
He was joined by Premier Craig Cannonier who officially opened the exhibition after a morning walkabout. He commended the staff at Botanical Gardens for doing a “fantastic job preparing for this wonderful occasion”.
He also spoke of the days when he entered exhibits as a young student.
“I would have my drawings put out and my kites that were made and it gave me an opportunity to see everyone else on the Island coming together which is very important in 2013,” he said.
“I believe that we must find more opportunities to share with one another, to care with one another and really and truly be our brothers keeper. I am just honoured to open officially the 75th Agricultural Exhibition this year and looking forward to all of the different events.”
Governor George Fergusson was also in attendance. “It’s my first time here in Bermuda, I’ve been to shows in Scotland and New Zealand and they all have the fun of the community coming together.
“I’ve been really impressed by what I’ve seen today, people of all ages from all over the Island,” he said. I loved the decorated eggs that were made to look like a pair of tigers and I would like to know how they didn’t get a prize.
“Everyone’s got memories from Ag Shows from the past and talk about what they’ve done either when they were children or what they did with their children. It’s a thing that brings everyone’s experiences together and that’s a special thing in a community,” he said.
He added that his wife Margaret has the “green thumb” in his family.
An even bigger crowd is expected today, when schools will be closed so that students can attend.
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