‘Redemption farm’ to open
A farm scheme will be the next tool to steer young people away from a life of violence in Bermuda.
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said the initiative was a “phenomenal opportunity” that would provide therapy and support as well as entrepreneurial skills. He added that up to ten people could be involved in the project at a time, amid wide-ranging efforts to tackle antisocial behaviour and gang culture.
Mr Caines said the plan is to call the programme “Redemption Farm”.
Those taking part will grow crops, care for chickens and sell cut-price eggs at the farmers' market.
Mr Caines told The Royal Gazette that the Government's public works ministry donated three acres of Devonshire land, where young people will also have access to mental health professionals, a case manager and help to find employment.
He explained: “In their day's exercise, they will be able to work in the garden, they will be able to sow and six weeks later have a harvest. When they have a harvest, we're looking at this being organic and for them to take the goods to market.
“We're looking at doing a chicken farm, we're looking at doing crops and hydroponics — three parts to it.”
Mr Caines added: “This will be a therapeutic exercise that will not just be a farm.
“It allows them on a daily basis to be in an environment where it's controlled, where they are getting mental health treatment, where they are being given coping skills, where they are being given opportunities to learn about how to live their life without being connected to violent activities.”
He added: “It's a phenomenal opportunity not just for the people in the programme, but for the community leaders as well.
“Can you imagine us being at the farmers' market? We want to call it ‘Redemption Farms'.”
The minister said he hoped the scheme would start this month and it is thought the first ground could be cut in the coming days.
Leroy Bean, the Government's gang violence reduction co-ordinator, said recruits to the programme would be young people deemed to be “at risk”.
He added: “When you're actually tilling the soil ... it has a real calming effect and it does something within the individual. We wanted to teach them not only the farming aspect, the growing, but we wanted to teach them how to actually market the products that they're actually selling.”
Mr Bean said: “A garden initiative takes anywhere from 75 to 80 days ... we want to bridge that up.
“Chickens, once they mature, they can lay anywhere between two to three eggs a day. The idea was to sell the eggs at a reduced cost, lower than the average in Bermuda, which would also provide the wages for those that are part of the programme.”
It is also planned to sell the chickens' manure or use it as fertiliser. Members of the public will also get involved through a schools competition to design a logo for merchandise such as T-shirts, mugs and biodegradable bags. Mr Bean said land has already been offered in other parts of the island to develop the scheme.
He added: “We're looking to see something spark these young men's lives.”
Cryptocurrency exchange and coin company Arbitrade announced in July it planned to donate $45,000 to a chicken farm project in Bermuda. Mr Caines said the project would be funded by his ministry.
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