Who? Lorenzo Locci, Master’s student Organic Agriculture
What? Internship, Curacao Edible School Garden(s) project
‘The idea of creating an edible garden came from a small group of enthusiastic volunteers, most of whom were retired people. Some 25 percent of the children and teenagers on Curacao are overweight and they wanted to do something about that. Inspired by Michelle Obama, who created an edible garden for the White House, they came up with the idea of creating gardens like this at schools on Curacao. In order to teach the children something about agriculture and healthy food and to help them change their eating habits. My job was to work out the agricultural, financial and management aspects of the project. There wasn’t any kind of proper, formal organization as you would have in an NGO, university or company. Often we held our meetings at people’s homes, which meant in their beautiful, tropical gardens.
The agricultural sector on Curacao is not as developed as it is in the Netherlands. Conventional agriculture accounts for most of the farming activity. Some people are trying to take a more sustainable approach, but there is little expertise available. For example, we wanted to use organic seeds and crop protection agents but they turned out to be unavailable. At times this made the project rather challenging, but the team had great dedication. So much so that a plan has now been completed. The next step is to raise funds for the implementation.
The people of Curacao are very relaxed, they do everything at a leisurely pace. I noticed that their society is also very multiethnic. This is reflected in the Curacaoans’ language skills. Most people speak no fewer than four languages: Dutch, English, Spanish and Papiamento. A tip for future interns: don’t go and live in a student house. During the ten days that I lived in one, armed robbers entered it three times! I went to live with a local person. Not only is that safer, but you feel more integrated. For the rest, wild animals are everywhere to be seen, from iguanas to humming birds. The beach was just round the corner. One day I was sitting there gazing out to sea when I suddenly saw dolphins leaping out of the water at great speed. That is a moment I will never forget.’