If the Partners of the Americas Farmer to Farmer programme has its way, the age-old farming practice of container gardening would make a huge comeback in Guyana.
Originally designed to support the farming initiatives of enthusiasts hamstrung by considerations of space, the contemporary popularity of the practice has to do with other considerations. By definition, it is, simply, the practice of growing plants exclusively in containers instead of planting them in the ground. Outside Guyana where container gardening is pursued as much for its aesthetic and ornamental significance as for its agricultural importance, containers are often fashioned out of terracotta or cement. These days, plastic pots and window boxes have become fashionable.
Container gardening is assuming renewed significance. With issues of climate and the environment having become increasingly significant to the fortunes of farming the world over, the importance of container gardening as a facilitator of farming where the soil or climate or both, is unsuitable for the plant or crop in question, is increasingly being recognised.
As part of the ongoing Partners of the Americas Farmer to Farmer programme, interested local farming enthusiasts are expected to benefit from the arrival here earlier this week of Kelly Young, a Container and Backyard Gardening Volunteer from the United States. Young says she understands that container gardening is nothing new in Guyana but she hopes her visit here will raise awareness of the role container gardening can play in the wider national agricultural milieu. Simply put, she is hoping to persuade those urban dwellers who might, perhaps, be indifferent to the virtues of container gardening of the role it can play in helping people to grow at least some of the vegetables they eat. “You really don’t need a great deal of money or space to plant some food,” she says.
And if she does not believe that the utilisation of disused containers as plant pots is an adequate substitute for a more efficient waste disposal policy she certainly believes that it can help. She articulates the slogan ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’, as a point of reference for container farming. It is a matter of extracting two virtues – growing food and limiting the indiscriminate disposal of disused containers – from a single pursuit. Container gardening also provides the virtues of reduced risk of soil-borne diseases and the mobility of plants which provides greater control over moisture and temperature.
Her visits to residential locations in Regions 3, 4 and 10 will facilitate gatherings that will allow her to provide instructional sessions in the making of potting soil and the actual planting of vegetables. The Farmer to Farmer programme has also arranged other practical demonstrations at the St Stanislaus Farm and other locations designed to ensure that significant audiences benefit from what she has to offer.