Tzu Chi Foundation, AUC support community garden project 

POSTED: 10/20/15 2:03 PM


Community garden St Peters - Denicio Wyatte

Project leader Denicio Wyatte (left) gives an explanation to the volunteers. Photo contributed

St. Maarten – Doctors-in-training at the American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine and the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers helped bring the St. Peters Community Garden project closer to reality on Saturday, when they helped prepare the land for the major agricultural project.

Minister of Education, Culture, Youth and Sports Rita Bourne-Gumbs, who read about the volunteer exercise on Facebook, also came out on her own accord and helped plough the land and encouraged project leader Denicio Wyatte.

A total of 33 volunteers turned out to assist including 13 AUC students, a large number of Tzu Chi volunteers and Wyatte and his family and friends. Volunteers as young as three-years-old and as old as 80, were busy helping in whatever way they can to help the project inch one step closer to reality. AUC students came out as part of their annual Community Action Day volunteer exercise.  

The St. Peters Community Garden, which is located next to the Hillside Christian School in St. Peters, is geared towards creating a model version of the first local agricultural station, where members from the surrounding communities can go to get vital information, help and items related to agriculture and community back-yard garden development. The mission is to create an umbrella where persons below the poverty line can get the right education and help with whatever is needed for agriculture that will be able to assists with their living situation.

On Saturday, volunteers assisted with the preparation of the farming area by removing rocks and grass from potential crop areas; painted the recycled palette fence; assisted with the general cleanup of the premises by removing unwanted grass, weeds and pruning and beautification of the surrounding fruit trees and helped in the construction of the wooden Greenhouse.

A heavy downpour of rain during the exercise did not deter volunteers, who used the time to take a much needed “community break,” and got right back to work when the rain stopped.

Tzu Chi provided vegetarian snacks and lunch for participants. Freshly made bush tea was also available.  

President of AUC’s Asian Students Medical Association Elliott Chen said at the end of the exercise that it was a good experience for the students to get out in the community to help. He said he personally enjoyed the activity. He said it is one thing to go into a supermarket to get your fruits and vegetables; but it is quite another to actually experience some of the hard work that actually goes into farming to produce these things.

Student Wade Licup said he too enjoyed the exercise. He said it’s easy for a student to get stuck in academia, but it’s good to go out to help and keep a healthy balance. He said too that it is important to make better use of the land.   

Minister Bourne-Gumbs thanked volunteers for backing the agricultural initiative. The minister said the project is a good example of how communities can help to build themselves without the assistance of government and also help build each other. She was happy to see young children amongst the volunteers, as they too are getting a chance to learn about the importance of agriculture as well as a chance to learn about a local tradition.     

Wyatte enlightened volunteers about his vision for agriculture and his plans for the project.

Both Wyatte and Tzu Chi Foundation Commissioner Sandra Cheung thanked all the volunteers for coming out to help in the project. Cheung said although everyone was covered in mud, after the rain, the exercise was fun, beneficial and very rewarding for volunteers. 

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