Sandals Foundation cultivates garden at Leanora Morris Basic School
Principal of Leanora Morris, Tracey Ricketts-Reid (centre) receives new gardening tools from Sandals Montego Bay Landscaping Manager, Nicka Blair (left) and Regional Public Relations Manager Rochelle Forbes-Reid.

A brighter future is on the horizon for more than 90 students currently enrolled at Leanora Morris Basic School in St James. This transformation is thanks to the creation of a vibrant vegetable garden on the school premises.

The concept was introduced by Sandals Foundation and brought to life with the dedicated support of volunteers from Sandals resorts in the Montego Bay region. This initiative is a vital component of Sandals Foundation's dedication to enhancing food security.

The foundation aims to achieve this by providing the necessary skills and tools to establish robust food supply systems and bountiful food forests in local schools and communities.

Tracey Ricketts-Reid, principal of Leanora Morris Basic School, expressed her gratitude to Sandals Foundation.

Sandals Foundation volunteer Sharlene Tyson (left) shows Sirena Rampassard, a student of Leanora Morris Basic School how to plant vegetables in the school's garden.

"We are truly appreciative of the Sandals Foundation for its invaluable assistance in creating this school garden," said Morris as she noted that while offering nutritious and balanced meals can be a daunting task, her school now has its own garden to supply fresh vegetables for the kitchen.

"This will significantly elevate the quality of meals we provide for our students," added Morris.

During the recent undertaking volunteers from Sandals Foundation worked to erect and paint a fence for the school garden, utilising upcycled wooden planks. They also planted a variety of crops including tomatoes, callaloo, cucumbers, cabbage, lettuce, string beans, and sweet peppers.

In addition, the team equipped the school with suitable gardening tools for the young gardeners, a new compost bin, storybooks with gardening themes, and instructional books on gardening which will assist the teachers overseeing the project.

Nicka Blair, landscaping manager for Sandals Montego Bay, enthusiastically described his team's involvement in the project.

He recounted the journey from preparing the area to nurturing the seeds in the resort's nursery, and now transplanting the sprouts into the school garden.

"This activity allowed my team and I to utilise our skills for a greater purpose. We are thrilled with the transformation of this space, and working with the children at Leanora Morris, teaching them how to grow vegetables and herbs, was a delightful experience," said Blair.

He emphasised the commitment of the landscaping teams from both Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean to assist the school's staff and students in maintaining the garden and using it as a means to instil an appreciation for gardening and agriculture in the students from an early age.

Rochelle Forbes-Reid, Sandals regional public relations manager, emphasised another possible outcome of the initiative.

"Our aim with this project is not only to provide healthier meal options for our students and a delightful project for the school's 4-H club, but also to positively impact the psychosocial behaviours of our students at this critical stage in their development," said Forbes-Reid.

She pointed to the numerous studies which suggest that gardening can offer children a wide range of physical, emotional, and social benefits.

"It nurtures a sense of responsibility, patience, and a connection to nature while creating opportunities for social interaction and learning," added Forbes-Reid.

Since its inception Sandals Foundation has touched the lives of more than 1.2 million people. The establishment of school gardens is just one of the ways in which the foundation continues to demonstrate its unwavering commitment to the region.

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