Divine Academy of Excellence
Divine Academy of Excellence owned and operated by the St. John’s Pentecostal Church is a new educational facility opened only two years ago. The school populace is very small but that did not deter management from including Agricultural Science as one of the subjects offered there. According to teacher Mrs. Lauraine Thomas, the Agriscience programme began in September 2021 at the beginning of the academic year. The crops selected were Bananas, sweet corn, sweet and hot peppers, cucumbers, onions, garlic, ginger and red beans. Their programme has three main components. However, at the moment the focal point is “propagation” while the livestock component is expecting to commence in April. The school intends to rear chickens and rabbits.
Like all striving farms on the island watering is continuous, therefore the main plight is water. “The biggest challenge we have here is water, the church has a cistern so when water is off, we get it from there. Once water is in the tank is refilled because we have dripping irrigation system here”, Thomas said. She added that inter-cropping was one of the practices used on the farm and wanted the students to learn the process. Further, she expressed her gratitude for the advice and assistance received from Ms. Nickey Barnard from the Ministry of Education.
Presently, there are two students engaged with School Based Assessments (SBAs) which focus on both plants and livestock. For the vegetation sector of the SBA the emphasis is place on investigating Sweet Peppers while for the livestock it will be place on chickens, both layers and broilers. Dejaune Williams and Tequoia Tonge explained that two plots of sweet pepper plants will be observed for their growth spans and yields. Organic fertilizer will be used on one set while chemical fertilizer on the other. The students are required to collect data on the plants’ progress and draw a comparison. “Some of the sweet pepper plants we use organic fertilizer (cow and goat manure) and for the others a chemical was used”, said Williams. When asked about the preparation involved for the SBA Tonge explained that land preparation was an essential part of the process. “We made holes with the hoe and used the pitchfork to turn the soil”. The project commenced on the 1st of February and it is anticipated that it will be three months before harvesting can take place.
Third form Students: Arriadne Wilson, Kessarrie Cole, Jaedene Lawrence, Nicarree Bedminister and Kwasi King were involved with propagation of bananas, corns, hot peppers, cucumbers but also assist with the watering of the sweet peppers. They all seem to be enthusiastic and enjoy the physical aspect of farming. “I know that Agriculture is very important because it is our source for food and Food security is very important, not just for individuals but for our Country” Wilson said. Her remarks were supported by her peers “besides food we also get products like medicines for when we are sick and things we can use,” said Bedminister. Even though it can be hard and messy at times, for most it was their first time to be working on a farm according to Cole and Lawrence claimed to be the princess of the “Corn.” They were happy to work outdoors under the supervision of their teacher Mrs. Thomas and farm hand/caretaker Mr. Norman.
The second formers are not left out they have been involved with a little greenhouse project which occupies a corner of their classroom. Their project is about “Asexual or vegetative propagation”, this process involves using the vegetative parts of a plant like stems, roots and /or leaves and cause them to regenerate into new plant or plants. Additionally, they also are learning about sexual propagation which is propagation plants from seeds. Aneisha Dunnah, Abeni Aska, Michael Haywood, Rhianna Headley, Cecil Joyce and Joshua Roman are all responsible for the care, watering and data collecting in their little nursery. The crops propagating in this area are onions, garlic, red beans, ginger, white rose, red rose and Bougainvillea. Dunnah explained the objective of the project and Headley admitted to enjoying watching the plants grow.