Back to the soil on Grand Bahama Island
By Joseph Darville
Feb 26, 2008 - 1:24:47 PM
One of the quickest ways to rejuvenate our people and return our youth
to a more peaceful and serene existence is to get them back to the soil.
In this light
BAIC and the Ministry of Agriculture are to be congratulated for the project now underway in North Andros.
The allocation of some five hundred acres to be farmed by young people is a highly commendable move.
It puzzles me, however, that this land had to be ‘purchased’ from Kerzner International.
With thousands and thousands of arable crown
land available for such projects, some explanation should be forthcoming as to why we need to buy back land from a foreign investor.
When Minister Larry Cartwright was on Grand Bahama with his officers some months ago, I questioned him as to why such a project 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 twenty-five years without any major storms.
Abundant crops, namely limes, papayas, 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 as 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 planning, watching and awaiting a harvest from the soil.
Indeed, 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?
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.
I have a serious apprehension, however, that there may not be a very seriously defined national plan to develop agriculture on this island.
Grand Bahama, having been touted as the industrial capital of the Bahamas and with tourism as a struggling product, we seem to be left out when it comes to the systematic utilization of our major natural resources of land and fresh water.
But oh what demons 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 school!
(Even the massive destruction being
caused by the infestation of the pink hibiscus mealy bug on this island, without any serious attention of the government, speaks volumes to the colossal indifference in how we should preserve our natural heritage).
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 possible maturity.
We literally set them for a life of failure, for we neglect to give them the tools with which to survive.
Two of our major, god-given and abundant resources are the land and sea.
Yet we do little or nothing to marry them to these pregnant and potentially life-supporting and life-giving elements.
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.
But the soil, Mother Earth, the water (fresh and salt), all these natural, beautiful and peaceful gifts await our attention.
So maybe an agricultural committee, instead of a crime commission, could more quickly lead us to a fearless existence in our beautiful Bahamaland.
26 February, 2008
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
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