Bruce Vale, in the scenic rural parish of St. Andrew, is where Nature Fun Ranch is located. Founded in 1998, it is a registered Youth and Community Charity which “uses Nature, Fun, Adventure and Learning for the holistic development of children from the age of seven.” This youth development programme also aims to engage at-risk youth in active, fun-filled and sustainable lifestyles that cultivate positive and productive social attitudes. Trained staff and peer mentors work with the young people to provide the necessary support for positive change.
Nature Fun Ranch’s Programme
They started small with just one horse, 20 rabbits and a few garden beds for planting lettuce. Today their livestock inventory has increased considerably. The farmyard now has several horses, local Black Belly sheep, pigs, chickens and goats.
Over the course of time, Nature Fun Ranch has expanded to include adventure activities such as kayaking, camping and caving, as well as courses in areas such as gardening, recycling and farming.
National Tree Planting Project
So this bucolic setting proved to be the perfect choice for Lead Organiser of the UNCTAD 15 Youth Forum, Roshanna Trim, and her team when they took a big step towards advancing the Forum’s programme at the beginning of August. They joined Minister of the Environment and National Beautification, Adrian Forde, at Nature Fun Ranch for a tree-planting exercise.
The activity was one which has national significance, since it marked the resumption of the National Tree Planting Project which seeks to plant one million trees. The initiative had been impacted by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The land in St. Andrew had been cleared by the National Beautification Project and the National Botanical Gardens. Administrative representatives from the Fun Ranch and some of the young people in their programme were on hand to assist Minister Forde and Roshanna and her team with the task of planting the trees.
Trees Save Lives
The Minister emphasized to the young people present that they would be the ones who would have the responsibility of leading the charge in rebuilding a green and prosperous Barbados in the post-COVID-19 environment.
He told them that, “I said it before and I’ll say it again, the young people of this country must be the active players, as it relates to greening this country and our economic thrust of a green economic post-COVID recovery. There is a maxim I have started at the Ministry… and that is “Trees Save Lives”. I want every young person in this country to recognise that this is the way forward. We are committed to the international thrust as it relates to the United Nations and the General Assembly’s call to have, by 2030, all the Sustainable Development Goals realised. And, we as a small country understand our commitment to these goals.”
Addressing Climate Resilience
Roshanna, who is a Barbados Youth Ambassador as well as Lead Organiser for the Youth Forum, explained that, “The Forum creates a great opportunity for us to discuss climate resilience and the responsibility and obligation of the countries around the world to…achieve the Sustainable Development Goals 2030. So, this is definitely one of those initiatives that we had to have happen.”
As part of the national drive to plant one million trees over the next couple of years, Minister Forde revealed that his Ministry is looking to plant 150,000 trees for Arbor Day in September.
He explained that, “What we have also made an international commitment to, is that there must be a decade of restoration; a restoration which speaks to the way we build back our forestry and how we are able to increase our biodiversity. So, what we are doing today is very important to the survival of our country.”
This commitment is one which resonates with Roshanna and her Youth Forum committee. She underscored that, “This centres around the recognition that as a small island developing state, Barbados has always had a strong stance on climate resilience and sustainable development.”
Fruit for Food Security
Two hundred trees were planted. However, it’s not only the saplings which were supplied, but a source of water for irrigation as well to assist the young people in the care and nurture of the trees that they planted. These trees will be watered by a drip irrigation system fed by two 1,000-gallon tanks located at the Nature Fun Ranch.
Eventually they won’t only provide shade, but fruit as well. So, if all goes according to plan, these trees will bear a variety of fruit such as Surinamese cherries, golden apple, guava, pomegranates, avocado, mango and soursop.
As Roshanna states, “We also believe that it is now time to highlight (food) security in the region; how we can produce food for our population and how we can start the ball rolling as it relates to climate change. And so, the Million Trees initiative was one we believed was fundamental and at the core of this, as well as the economy. These are some of the things we will talk about at the Forum.”
The UNCTAD 15 Youth Forum will take place from September 16 to 18 under the theme Pull up: Change di Riddim.