Basseterre, St. Kitts – Engineering students and faculty from the University of Central Florida (UCF) are partnering with counterparts at the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College to bring a state-of-the-art shade house to the CFBC main campus.
Organized as part of UCF President’s Scholars annual summer study abroad and service learning programme, the international team will assemble the shade house between June 26 and 28.
According to CFBC Vice Principal (Ag.) and Science Lecturer, Dr. Leighton Naraine, the new shade house will be used as a laboratory and multi-purpose learning centre for a new degree programme in Agricultural Studies that will begin enrolling student this summer at the college for the 2012-2013 academic year in the Technical, Vocational Education and Management Services Division.
“This facility will allow us to respond to the higher demand for agricultural lab experiments and public workshops that will come with the new program,” Naraine said. “Particularly for students and members of the general public interested in agrotechnology, we are now able to present a model shade house that meets the highest design standards while taking into account Caribbean realities as far as materials and cost.”
He further stated that, “The innovative systems of agriculture developed at the CFBC are adaptive mechanisms to the increasing vulnerabilities to climate change, and residents will be empowered to build resilience through improved education and livelihoods.”
Stuart LaPlace, Science Lecturer at CFBC and Project Manager for the installation team, said the new shade house was supplied by UCF through a greenhouse manufacturer in Florida and will showcase hydroponic systems.
“We worked directly with Imperial Building and Supply in Apopka, Florida, and had them prepare a 20’ by 24’ structure according to our specifications,” La Place explained. “Once we finish assembling the shade house with the UCF students, we will set up a hydroponic farming system that I have stripped down to the essential elements in order to bring this technology within the reach of commercial and small-holder farmers here in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The UCF President’s Scholar’s programme has been coming to the federation every summer since 2008 with a group of honours students who spend two weeks learning about local history, culture, and environmental issues while working shoulder to shoulder with Kittitian and Nevisian partners on service learning projects.
Previous service activities have focused on public health, marine resource public awareness, oral history, school refurbishments in Mansion and Sandy Point, youth entrepreneurship, and more.
All the service projects for 2012 are focused on agriculture, building on a recent flurry of activities in St. Kitts and Nevis that has been heralded as an agricultural renaissance. In addition to the shade house installation, UCF students will host an agribusiness workshop for incoming CFBC Agricultural Studies students, pilot a nutrition and diet profile survey in community health clinics, and conduct a two-day oral history project on agricultural methods in Nevis.
Dr. Naraine expresses thanks to Professor Kevin Meehan and Professor Martin Dupuis (Dean) of UCF for initiating the sponsorship of the shade house and accessories by UCF, and to TDC for sponsoring the concrete and other materials for the floor slab and footings for the shade house.