WORKING WITH NATURE
The apprenticeship program provides positions for 2-4 young people to learn and practice working with permaculture systems, gain a true understanding of the need for sustainable food systems, natural ecosystems, as well as functional social and economic systems in an island community. In addition to farm management duties, Apprentices spend time in learning developing their own entrepreneurial ideas, interpreting our backyard permaculture systems for visiting and students, and leading our primary school gardens program.
The primary focus of GROW Exuma is to engage young people in Exuma in a program that explores and experiments with ways the island can become more self-sustaining by working with nature. We seek to create systems that mimic natural processes, utilize as many locally available materials as possible, keep costs down, and simplify best practices. We aim to increase food production in our backyard farm and make our efforts in the community more accessible and impactful with this approach. The principals and ethics of permaculture are used as a basis for guidance in this journey.
A great example of this simple, integrated, inexpensive and productive approach is our integrated poultry system. Our flock of 30 chickens and ducks not only provide us with eggs, but control pests, prepare ground, fertilize our food forest with their manure, and create rich, weed-free compost in their coop that we use to grow naturally healthy food.
The work/study program is for high school students and takes place over a 4-week time period during the summer. Each student completes a project that demonstrates their understanding of the issues surrounding sustainability on a small island, the ethics and principles of permaculture, and contributes to the demonstration of a permaculture method. The students also spend time support the high school farm, learn project management and leadership skills. A highlight of the program is the opportunity to explore ideas around marine permaculture and participate in projects that are helping to restore marine ecosystems.
GROW Exuma is a program dedicated to promoting sustainability on the island of Great Exuma through youth empowerment, community engagement, and practical demonstration of permaculture. The program began in 2017 with a generous grant from the Argus Fund that supported the entire program. We are building our team, our capacity to share permaculture with the community, and our ability to support our program through donations for our eggs, greens, seedlings, tours, and services.