Environmental education, especially of the “hands-on” variety, is an essential tool for Jamaica’s sustainability. If the students are themselves training to be our nation’s educators, it has tremendous added value.
The Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) funded two projects, awarded in 2016 and 2017, at The Moneague College in St. Ann, under the Special Climate Change Adaptation Fund (SCCAF). The focus is on food security, water, and soil conservation and renewable energy. The projects provide an on-the-spot training ground for students to deepen their understanding of the connections between agriculture, climate change, and the environment.
The ongoing Soil Conservation for Safety and Sustainability project valued at J$3.5 million (and now documented in a manual at the College) was initially affected by heavy rains in St. Ann. This actually proved to be a good test for the gabion baskets, waterways and culverts installed. Rainwater now empties into a gully, avoiding dangerous and destructive flooding on the campus. Special grasses have been planted to conserve soil.
The J$3.9 million greenhouse project also serves as a training tool, while providing nutrition for more than 600 cafeteria users daily. Having already reaped sweet peppers and pak choi, the next crop will be purple cabbage, notes Assistant Dean in the School of Natural and Applied Sciences and Project Manager Mr. Desmond Campbell. Moreover, a rainwater harvesting arrangement irrigates the greenhouse, reducing runoff and soil erosion. Six solar panels power a submersible water pump, and there are plans to expand this to serve the College itself.
Campbell notes that the projects are positively impacting learning at the 62-year-old multidisciplinary institution, which caters for 1,338 students annually. The Introduction to Environment and Sustainable Development course has greatly benefited, alongside the recently accredited Environmental Studies Associate Degree and B.A. programmes.
In 2016 and 2017, the EFJ funded a total of 80 grants valued at J$361.56 million. “The EFJ has helped Moneague College to create a model of sustainability for Jamaica,” notes Mr. Campbell.