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  • Cashew Gardens launches solar and wind-powered community greenhouse 01/18/2021

    Jan 18th, 2021

    The Cashew Gardens community has launched what is believed to be the country’s first solar- and wind-powered community greenhouse, with the help of stakeholder support. In a media briefing launching the facility today, president of the Cashew Gardens Community Centre, Roslyn George-Mitchell, said the venture is one which they have worked hard for, and something they hope can be replicated in other communities. ‘Our garden could not have been completed at a better time. With COVID-19 restrictions and our new normal, more and more we have to find ways to sustain ourselves and provide food for the anticipated shortage. Our community garden has the capacity to sustain itself…and provide employment.’ The organisation said the hydroponic greenhouse, a 2,400 square foot facility will initially grow lettuce and patchoi, with plans for other crops in the future. Currently, the hydroponic system has the capacity to grow up to 1,600 crops however the group has begun with 800 in a phased process. The community garden will produce vegetables for external sale - the venture will initially employ five people, with plans to expand. National Director for Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago, Jennifer Massiah, said the focus on empowering women in rural communities remains a key focus: ‘We found that there were a number of women that, at 2pm they needed to get back home with the kids, they couldn’t have regular employment with an 8-4 job. So we started thinking about people-centred development. How could we look at a sustainable community that could have income to repay the mortgage loans?’ ‘So when we saw the opportunity for the solar-powered greenhouse we thought…this could allow them to work hours which are more convenient to them.’ The community will grow short-term crops using hydroponics in the first instance, incorporate rainwater use through rainwater harvesting technology, and recycle nutrients by composting agricultural and household food waste. The pilot project features solar panels and a wind turbine which power various infrastructural features including a cooling and security system. The group has also begun a composting project which will make use of food waste generated by the community, converting it to compost for crops. The project was completed with the assistance of Habitat for Humanity TT, the Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation, the Water Resources Agency’s Adopt a River programme, the Digicel Foundation, the University of the West Indies (UWI) and Republic Bank Limited. Digicel Foundation, Republic Bank and The UNDP Global Environment Fund’s Small Grant Programme (GEF-SGP) supplied infrastructure funding. The 2400 square foot site began with lettuce and patchoi as a cash crop using labour from Cashew Gardens residents. The land for the greenhouse was given by the Land Settlement Agency.