Homes & Gardens
Friday, 22 June 2012 02:30
By caribarena news
Antigua St. John’s – Sustainable community development, introduction of innovative business opportunities, safeguarding cultural heritage and promoting cultural diversity were the themes that resonated Thursday, when the Community Development Division launched the fifth annual Homes, Families and Gardens Festival.
Minister of Health, Social Transformation, Consumer Affairs & Local Government, Hon. Willmoth Daniel officially declared the Festival open during a ceremony at the residence of Mrs. Francella Henry in Ffryes – the 2011 winner for the landscaping and Flower Garden categories.
“It is my privilege to be here today in this beautiful garden, overlooking the sleeping Indian to declare open the fifth annual Homes, Families and Gardens Festival. It is also an opportunity to experience, first hand the aroma of the 2011 winning garden of Mrs. Francella Henry. This is a true symbol of the theme “Think beautification for the Nation’s Health and Wealth”, Minister Daniel declared.
Since the re–introduction of the festival in 2008, Daniel said support for the programme has come from churches, community based organisations and individuals that has strengthened the capacity of related activities to include the introduction of innovative business opportunities such as community tourism.
The festival also remains an important addition to the list of activities already drafted on the annual events calendar to preserve our environment, and promote broad-based participation at the community level with all stakeholders.
“It is based on cost-sharing arrangements to provide incentives for our residents to continue adopting good practices for community management to include tidiness and layout, pest control, consistency in appearance and general health and vigour. The continued success of the project will depend on our collective efforts and commitment to its sustainable implementation,” said Minister Daniel, adding that “We at the Ministry of Social Transformation remain committed to the continuation of this spirited community-based initiative.”
Participants are judged in three categories, namely Flowers, Fruit and Vegetables and Landscaping.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Social Transformation, Consumer Affairs & Local Government Sen. the Hon. Malaka Parker expressed government’s ongoing solidarity for the community-based initiative and highlighted potential areas for sustainable expansion.
“The Homes Families and Gardens Festival provides a unique opportunity for communities to strengthen co-operation to develop and deliver a better co-ordinated programme for preserving, protecting and leveraging our rich tangible and intangible cultural heritage,” Senator Parker said.
She disclosed that it is the vision of the ministry to increase the amount of public green space and added that a collaborative approach was required to achieve the expected outcome.
Senator Parker also spoke of the importance of sustainable community development for safeguarding cultural heritage, promoting cultural diversity, developing cultural and creative industries, and of the need to create opportunities for the full development of the creativity of the people of the community and in particular the young people.
In 2010, the Poetry and Research Competition for students was introduced as a component of the Homes Families and Gardens Festival and received overwhelming response. The young, bright minds were encouraged to enter poems based of the festival, or research paper based on the history of his or her community, notable persons or events.
In 2011, the entries increased by 80 per-cent with a total of 53 participants. Terrika Benjamin, a student at the Antigua Girls’ High School emerged the winner of 2011 Poetry Competition. Benjamin was at the launch and entertained the participants by performing her winning entry, and came in for high praise from Senator Parker and Minister Daniel.
Senator Parker also commended the seven schools that participated in the competition and congratulated the Christ the King High School for submitting the most entries.
Mrs. Henry, who won the competition for three consecutive years, disclosed her intent to stand down from this year’s competition, in a bid to pass the baton to a new winner.
She warned the prospective competitors, however that “winning is no easy feat; it takes a lot of time, hard work, dedication, determination, finance and love….I would like to encourage all of you to always put your best foot forward.”
On that point Mrs. Henry, on the behalf of Victory Villas, made the first presentation of a cheque in the amount of $500 towards the prize for the 2012 winner in the landscaping category.
Donald Charles, General Manager of the Antigua & Barbuda Development Bank (ABDB) also pledged his institution’s continued commitment to the Homes, Families and Gardens Festival.
Charles, on behalf of the financial institution donated a cheque in the amount of $2,000 which will go towards the grand prize.
He also urged other businesses and stakeholders to contribute towards sustainable community development.
Meanwhile the festival’s coordinator, Ms. Dale O’Brien, said a community festival is earmarked for the East Zone to encourage synergy among the residents to showcase their culture and heritage, while fostering competitive spirits and community pride.
“The community development commends all the participants over the years for their involvement, support as well as the cross-sectoral committee for their energies, fresh ideas and commitment to build a greener, and more beautiful Antigua & Barbuda,” O’Brien said.
Director of Community Development Mrs. Brenda Thomas Odlum gave the welcome and opening remarks while the National Solid Waste Management representative on the committee, Mr. David Spencer, wrapped up the proceedings with a vote of thanks.
Three-time undefeated Junior Calypso Monarch Mr. Trevaughn Weston performed the jingle, which encapsulates the theme “Think beautification for the Nation’s Health and Wealth”.
Participants were also treated to a guided tour of the 2011 winning garden.