ELEUTHERA, BAHAMAS — The One Eleuthera Foundation (OEF) recently hosted two Centre for Training and Innovation (CTI) graduations at its Rock Sound campus. Nineteen students in total celebrated the accomplishment of successfully completing one of two 12-week courses in Intro to hydroponics and apiology and apiculture (beekeeping).
The “Learn-and-Earn” hydroponics graduation took place on June 30 for the class of nine students, while the apiology graduation luncheon was held two weeks later on July 14 for the cohort of 10.
Funded through a grant from the TK Foundation, the hydroponics cohort was afforded a weekly stipend while pursuing studies. The course equipped students with the skills and knowledge to construct, install and maintain a basic hydroponic system and effectively grow herbs and nutritious leafy crops without soil.
Additionally, students learned the fundamental concepts in plant science and nutrition, water management, plant nutrition management and pest and disease control within the system.
Keynote speaker Dr Michele Singh, animal scientist and country representative of the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI), impressed upon the graduates the importance of putting their new skills into practice.
She reminded the cohort that “more than ever, our local communities need access to abundant supplies of nutritious produce and healthy, immune-boosting food”.
Hydroponic farming technology is reshaping the way we cultivate and grow food, according to the OEF. The technique replaces the use of soil with a liquid nutrient solution, answering the growing challenges of limited farming land and nutrient-deficient soil.
During the ceremony, the three students who emerged as winners in the $10,000 “Seed-to-Succeed” business pitch competition held on June 9 were also recognized for their winning hydroponics-based business plans.
The trio was awarded seed funding through partnerships between the OEF and the TK Foundation and the Bahamas Development Bank, respectively.
Davinia Cartwright-Vanhorn won $5,000 and first place for her businesses “Da Farm Yaad”, a local farm, and “Da Melting Pot”, a takeout and food catering business in Palmetto Point.
Lynette Ferguson won second place and $3,000 with her proposed “Ancient Native Therapeutic Solutions”, an apothecary business.
Michelle Outten earned third place and $2,000 for “Hydro Fresh”, a landscaping business providing customized hydroponic systems and seedlings to the local market.
Similarly, students completing the apiology and apiculture course were equipped with valuable skills and practical training to launch and expand their local apiaries and successfully operate a commercial honeybee business.
This course was offered free of charge through a partnership with OEF, CTI and the UNDP, Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme. The goal of the course was to increase honey production on Eleuthera and to provide valuable resources and training to local beekeepers.
The curriculum catered to both beekeeping professionals and beginners, covering: Introduction to Beekeeping; Advanced Beekeeping; and Managing Honeybees for Honey Production and By-products. Students were also mentored in entrepreneurship and assisted in developing a business plan to expand their operations and create future income opportunities.
Banu Devi-Nair, academic dean, CTI, said: “The goal of these technical programs offered by CTI and the One Eleuthera Foundation is two-fold — to educate and empower individuals with the knowledge and skills to operate competitively in their fields [and] to invest in developing and diversifying local industries to create financial independence and strengthen our local economy.
“As an organization, we’re very proud of these students and look forward to all they will accomplish as a result of their CTI training.”