Back to the Soil
By Joseph Darville
Dec 16, 2008 - 1:49:21 PM
The author's backyard bananas.
One of the quickest ways to rejuvenate our people and return our nation to a more peaceful, serene and productive existence is to get them back to the soil.
The aftermath of the recent hurricanes practically de-molished the tourism industry on Grand Bahama; and now again the global economic meltdown has resulted in even greater hardship to the people, not only on Grand Bahama, but throughout the Commonwealth. However, in spite of these calls by the universe to awaken us to a more sustainable and productive self-driven economy, based upon the natural resources with which we have been so abundantly blessed, we still stand basically idle awaiting some miracle to happen.
When Minister Larry Cartwright was on Grand Bahama with his officers some months ago, I questioned him as to why such a farming project presently in progress in Andros could not be mounted on Grand Bahama with the vast acreage available here.
The answer given was that Grand Bahama, unlike North Andros, falls within the direct path of recurring hurricanes and would therefore be more at risk for the destruction of crops. This argument really does not hold much water since this island could go some 25 years without any major storms. Abundant crops, namely limes, papay-as, avocados, bananas, etc., have been grown for many, many years without any adverse circumstances on this island.
For a very long time now I have advocated to successive governments that unless we afford our people, and especially our young, some ownership in our natural heritage of land and sea, they will never come to appreciate and accept their responsibility in building this nation. There is much less tendency to destroy what you own than that in which you have no vested interest. Particularly on Grand Bahama, and specifically Freeport, many Bahamians tend to feel, and are often made to feel, as if they are foreigners in their own land. This disenfranchisement must be obliterated if we are to become passionate stewards of our heritage.
Beginning with our youth we can empower them by providing each with a parcel of land to cultivate. There is sufficient acreage on this island to give one to every high school graduate. This alone will give them a sense of belonging, pride and ownership. Much of the violence experienced today among the young results from the absence of any closeness to Mother Earth and the gentle power of her creative force. Too many of our young people do not even know how things grow; they spend no time planting, watching and awaiting a harvest from the soil. How can anyone become violent who follows this path of patient and joyous expectation from the planting of a seed to the harvesting of the fruit?
Hidden crops of marijuana, with their consequential damaging effects on our youth, thrive annually in the pine barrens of Grand Bahama. Can you imagine, therefore, what can be produced by our young people from a organized, private and government funded project? The results could eliminate the hundreds of millions of dollars spent each year by this island alone on imports, as we savour the fruits of our own hands. With such ready access to the abundant ocean, just imagine the joyful hands and hearts of those who could fish, farm fish, shrimp, conch and even lobster to feed millions around the world!!
This resource, so richly and unconditionally bestowed upon us by the Creator, has all the essential ingredients to garner from it whatever is necessary for us and others to survive and flourish.
It is indeed sad that so many of our citizens were 'driven' from the beauty and blessings of the land. The result has been an aversion by our people, especially the young, to this type of work. Consequently, many view this occupation as a menial task. This is indeed a tragedy, for such a mentality rejects the very physical essence of our existence as human beings. How can we so disdain it as being unworthy of our attention? As this unfortunate attitude had been systematically ingrained into the mindset of our people, it can similarly be decoded. We remember when and how it began and, therefore, we are knowledgeable in how to obliterate it once again. We will certainly perish unless we return to the bosom of Mother Earth and be sustained by her fruits of land, sea and air.
In recent times, we have had some powerful lessons in relying almost solely upon what I term parasitic eco-nomies, such as tourism, off-shore banking, drug trafficking, gun running, as well as human trafficking. The artificiality of tourism, for example, has caused us to literally abandon our natural and abundant resources of land and sea.
The political directorate of our small country has over the past 20 years or longer lost sight of the unlimited treasure of our only 'solid' heritage. The proverbial goose laying the golden eggs may not be dead, but she is in an advanced state of geriatric disintegration. The sad fact is we have not allowed one single one of her golden eggs to hatch into another young and vibrant goose.
Give a group of experienced farmers an enthusiastic thousand Bahamian youths, with the necessary resources with which to work, and they will shock the country with what can be produced. What a wonderful way, as well, to ennoble and enable our young, taking them off the streets and giving them ownership of their heritage. It grieves me to hear so often from so many aspiring farmers how difficult it is, or pretty much impossible, for them to secure the necessary assistance and/or land from government to produce food from our land.
This is certainly one very natural and meaningful way to save our young. In fact, if we do not bring them back to honour the soil, they will destroy it, themselves and the rest of us in the process.
It is reprehensible, criminal and inexcusable what we do to our young graduates every June. We send them forth by the thousands without a clue as to what they are to do, or should do, as they continue along a dangerous path to a very uncertain future. We literally set them up for a life of failure, for we neglect to give them the tools with which to survive.
They are left, then, to be dragged into the abyss of crime, violence and societal destruction, as they believe these being the only avenues for survival. What demons, then, do we face in the future if we do not prep our land to become the creative cradle for our thousands of young people as they leave our high schools!
We are stewards of this noble inheritance and unless we grace her with loving and grateful attention, we shall lose her. I again appeal to our government, and with all our might, to bring an enlightened and dynamic approach to the abundant utilization of our natural resources of land and sea, fresh water and perfect climate. In the dignity and honour befitting Mother Earth, she will lavishly bestow her gifts upon us.
Four of our major, god-given and largely untapped resources are the land and sea, fresh water and sunshine year round. Yet we do little or nothing to marry and impregnate these for unlimited life-supporting and life-giving results. The soil, Mother Earth, the water (fresh and salt), all these natural, beautiful and peaceful gifts await our urgent attention. So maybe an agricultural committee, instead of a crime commission, could more quickly lead us to a fearless, abundant and an en-during quality of life in our beautiful Bahamaland.
It is way beyond time that we put our money where our agricultural mouth is and employ the thousands of young people to work before they reach the level of total frustration and wreak havoc upon our land.
About the Author: Mr. Joseph Darville is a native of Long Island, Bahamas and a resident of Freeport, Grand Bahama.
Teacher [English, French] at St. Augustine’s College in Nassau.
Teacher [French] Senior School Coordinator and Guidance Counselor a Queen’s College in Nassau.
Past Vice-President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers
He is a founding member and past President of the Bahamas Counselor’s Association
Past President of the Grand Bahama Mental Health Association
Past Vice President of the Caribbean Federation of Mental Health
Founding member and Chairman of Operation Hope, [volunteer drug prevention, education & rehabilitation program]
Co-Chairman of the Bahamas National Drug Council
Founding member and Past -President of Grand Bahama Human Rights Association
Founding member of the Caribbean Human Rights Network
Administrative Vice-President of the Freeport YMCA for three years
He is an Advanced Master/Teacher in Reiki training, a natural energy healing method, as well as a teacher of Transcendental Meditation. Presently, he is Director of Workforce Development at the Grand Bahama Shipyard. He has received many awards for outstanding service and achievement in teaching, communication, and citizenship.
Joseph can be reached at
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