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Jun 26, 2020

A Backyard Farm for Food Security During a Pandemic!

COVID-19’s impact on food and agriculture has been felt across the country – putting lives and livelihoods at risk from this pandemic. While the spread of virus is contained in Belize, it continues to surge in other parts of the world but the uncertainty is when it will eventually retreat. And locally we have seen border closures, quarantines, and market; supply chain and trade disruptions restrict access to different sources of food. So, one citizen’s response was to start a backyard micro farm as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Senator Isabel Bennett is now growing a number of crops at her yard and helping friends and neighbours to do the same in her community. Today we went to Ladyville to find out how Bennett is promoting food security on her property and how you can do so too. Here’s the story.


Isabel Bennett, Founder, Seeds of Blessings

“I know my grandmother used to say when you plant, you plant for the neighbours, birds, yourself and the thieves. I have a good community so this is the blessings that this little garden is providing for us right now.”


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Three months ago, Isabel Bennett started this backyard farm at her residence in Ladyville. It’s a way help provide for her family during the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Isabel Bennett

“It started with basically three sacks of black soil. I remembered my friend and I and my brother digging in one section of the garden and it just blossomed into everything you see here. I think I have forgotten how many trees we have in the garden since March fifteenth of this yard – so little over three months and the harvest has been abundant.”


Here, Bennett grows a number of vegetables and herbs which she shares with her family and friends, and even neighbours. Today, we harvested some okras and some herbs. She recounts her first harvest:


James Arthur

Isabel Bennett

“Awww that was an amazing moment. I go into the cucumber patch and I didn’t see the first cucumber and it was my best friend who found it. He plucked it and we cut it. I could tell you, nobody couldn’t tell me that wasn’t the best cucumber in the whole wide world. It tasted so different.  It is not just the cucumber. It is the okra; the bell peppers we are waiting on. We have thyme to put in the beans; we have cilantro; we have cilantro.”


For this first-time backyard farmer, growing her produce organically ensures that they are safe to eat. But having this garden also saves a trip to the market and keeps money in her pockets.


Isabel Bennett

“I no longer have to go to the market. I can just go to my kale patch and I can just pick the amount of leaves that I need for a sandwich or to make a stir fry calaloo with spinach. It keeps the food fresh on my table and so it is economic as well. There is so there so much in terms of mental stability or psychology. It gives you that sense of peace. Something about having to till and care for the earth, Mother Nature, when it gives back to you – it’s unexplainable.”


It’s a small backyard space that Bennett converted into a small farm. And she had to get resourceful to maximize the area and increase her crops – which she says you can do even without the yard space. You’ll need black soil; seeds; and water coupled with some self determination and the rest will follow.


Isabel Bennett

“Well, there is always the option of using hanging plants. As you can see in the background here, I have plastic bags where I plant my lettuce. And there are many, many ways you can just start. You don’t have to be growing produce for the whole country; you just need enough to supply your home. I don’t use five bell peppers when I am preparing a meal. I just use one or two depending on what I am preparing. So, for me it is self sustainability for my family.  You need basically as you begin, one or two hours a day. Because I didn’t have to stand at my cucumber patch – they didn’t require my presence and all I needed to do was the nurturing in the beginning and it did what it had to do in the end.”


…and if you’re not convinced about starting an herb garden or a veggie backyard farm, Bennett says there are too many benefits for you not to.


Isabel Bennett

“In your own way, in your own space you are creating an air filter atmosphere. There is a psychology behind it in that it gives you a peace of mind, an ease. When you hear the water being showered unto the leaves it is so relaxing. When you come out and see your seedlings popping up you get so much joy and then you think some weeks down the road I will be getting a sweet pepper; a watermelon. If we do this as parents and encourage our children to do it, then they can learn the skills. It is not hard. They can continue that kind of legacy. If as a country we would do it, do planting, it would help us to have less import. So, if you think in your own family unit that you may not be able to impact your country, you can.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


If you want learn more about starting your own farm or purchase seedlings and soil, you can visit Bennett at ninety-three Poinsettia Street in Ladyville or call at 614-4858.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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