Students reap big from garden plot

A life skills teacher at the government’s Cayman Islands Further Education Centre is using farming to get students motivated. And from the looks of the huge cassava roots being harvested, his toil is not in vain. 

“The concept is for students to learn how farming enhances their achievement. It is also a motivator for students when they are leaving school so they can look back and remember doing these things at school,” said Leslie Williams, the life skills teacher who operates the grow box project with students. 

Students are also proving that one doesn’t have to have a big garden to grow lots of food – just fill a small garden box with high-yielding crops and then harvest. 

Joshua Tugman, a student involved in the program, said the experience has opened his mind to learning new things. “I saw the huge roots of cassava [and] I realized I could grow it myself and not have to go to the supermarket to buy it and save some money,” he said. 

In the garden plot, students have planted callaloo, gungo peas, red beans, peppers, aloe, sweet potato and garden herbs, such as basil and season peppers. 

Mr. Williams explained that the program is a spin-off from the Alternative Education Centre for children with behavioral issues. At that school, students prepared the plot, planted, grew and reaped the vegetables. 

At CIFEC, Mr. Williams said the approach is slightly different and serves educate and motivate. 

“When the grow box project was started, we decided to label all the plants, have a synopsis of the importance of each plant and that, within itself, would encourage students to read, ask questions and to observe plants.  

“The whole idea at the end of the day is to have students look back and say, ‘OK, I remember doing those things at school,’ and they can start something at home,” said Mr. Williams. 


Joshua Tugman, left, Samantha Parsons, and life skills teacher Leslie Williams, display some of the big cassava roots harvested from the grow boxes. – Photo: Jewel Levy

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