Farm ready to sow seeds for success
Land has been cleared for a team of young people to grow crops in a scheme designed to keep them away from crime.
Three acres are now ready for planting as part of the Government's “Redemption Farm” scheme.
Wayne Caines, the national security minister, said staff training was under way and confirmed talks had taken place with local farmers, as well as other organisations in the community.
Mr Caines told The Royal Gazette: “Phase one of the ‘Redemption Farm' initiative continues to proceed.
“The three acres of arable land donated by the Ministry of Public Works has been cleared of obstructions, irrigated and is ready for planting.
“We are completing staff training and finalising our long- term plan.”
He added: “This is an exciting initiative in its early stage and I look forward to sharing further developments with the public.”
The initiative was announced by Mr Caines in September, when he said the “phenomenal opportunity” would offer therapy and support, as well as teach entrepreneurial skills.
Mr Caines added that the programme would involve up to ten young people, who would be “given opportunities to learn about how to live their life without being connected to violent activities”.
The land is in Devonshire, near CedarBridge Academy, and the minister said those taking part would have access to mental health professionals, a case manager and help to find employment.
Work on the farm was expected to include crop cultivation and raising chickens, whose eggs will be sold at markets.
Michael Dunkley, a One Bermuda Alliance MP, questioned if Mr Caines had spoken to members of the island's agricultural sector to look at ways to include island farmers in the project.
He claimed “sources” had told him they had not been approached.
Mr Dunkley said: “Assuming the minister hasn't contacted anyone from the local industry, I am more than willing to work with the minister to contact some of the farmers so that they can get involved in the programme if that is what Government would wish.”
He added: “It makes prudent good sense if the local farming industry is interested to use their experiences because we know that they are challenged in finding the local labour required.
“This could be a real win-win situation.”
But Mr Caines said: “In planning this initiative, I recognised the need and can confirm that we have and will continue to consult with local farmers, many of whom are considered experts in this field.
“Their inclusion in this process is giving us the necessary guidance and insight that has proved instrumental in creating this initiative.
“The farmers understand and appreciate the purpose of what we are doing, and the individuals selected to participate will have an excellent opportunity to receive the necessary training and experience, that will enable them to secure future employment in the farming industry.”
He added: “I have also reached out to other individuals and community organisations.”