Rotarians construct new shade house, vegetable garden at Cheshire Home


By Kurt Campbell

Just about a year ago, in the planning stages for the formation of a new Rotary Club, 15 persons toyed with the idea of a signature project – now celebrated as the Green Thrive Project – which fitted perfectly into the new focus service area of Rotary International – the environment.

By September, the Rotary Club of Garden City (Georgetown) was charted and its members hit the ground running, adopting the Cheshire Home at Unity, Mahaica, East Coast Demerara, which cares for almost 30 disabled adults and children.

On Saturday, those Rotarians commissioned, with much pride and excitement, a Shade House, Vegetable Garden, and external raised beds to serve as a mini fruit farm to support the residents of the home.

This is an effort to reduce the food bill of the home and to encourage healthy eating habits of the residents.  Also, the idea is for the children/residents to experience and appreciate vegetables and fruits from the ‘seed to the table’ – they are to be ‘ambassadors of eating healthy.

The shade house and garden

Leading the vision of the club to complete the project was a former Rotary President and Project Director, Elizabeth Cox.

“Inside the shade house, we have green leafy vegetables that can’t take direct sunlight… we have a lot of seasoning plants.

“We did have a soft launch in February where we had a shoe planting where we involved the residents and some of these plants came out of those shoes… we would like them to be the ambassadors of healthy living,” Cox said

Former Rotary President and Project Director, Elizabeth Cox.

The project was completed in the planned timeframe and budget.  But this is not all; there are plans already afoot to assist with cooking techniques and skills.

The plan is to introduce and support this type of self-sufficiency to the surrounding communities which include a nearby Domestic Violence Shelter & Children Centre.

“We want to replicate it at other homes… it’s not doing it and moving on, we have to maintain it and ensure it is sustainable… Rotary of the modern-day would want to see it continue onwards,” Cox added.

Twenty-two miles from Georgetown, the home for children and adults with disabilities was built in 1972 and is registered as an NGO. It is supported by the Government of Guyana, private individuals, and many other organizations, including Rotary. It is managed by a committee of volunteers.

During a simple ceremony on Saturday, Chairperson, Joan Rodrigues, said she was pleased with the work the Rotary Club has been doing at the Home.

“The project… is a welcomed one for some of our residents who need to be involved with working with nature and the environment as well as stimulating them to be of service to their home. The identified staff and residents are committed and will be monitored in the maintenance of the garden and farm. We look forward to reaping our own fruit and vegetables and providing these, if we can, to our local community, thereby enhancing the image of the home,” she said.

Chairperson of Cheshire Home, Joan Rodrigues

In setting up the Shade House and Garden, support was received from the Ministries of Agriculture and Health.

Health Minister, Dr. Frank Anthony, believes the collaboration is a good example of what can be done in other areas across the country.

“We can do a lot of good things together if we put our head together and make sure that we execute well,” Dr Anthony said at the ceremony on Saturday.

The shade house

The funds for this project were sourced through the fundraising activities of the club, together with a District Grant. Donations of cash and kind were also received from several friends of the club and the parent company for Church’s Chicken – Camex Restaurants Ltd.

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