WITH an increased need for investment to strengthen the Caribbean’s food security, the Sandals Foundation galvanised the support of hundreds of its ambassadors and Sandals and Beaches Resorts guests across eight islands to celebrate Earth Day by planting over 900 food-bearing trees in a single day.
The large-scale tree planting event formed part of the organisation’s ‘Trees for Life’ campaign and contributed to the charitable arm’s year-long mission of regional food security, which aims to keep local produce in schools and communities.
Heidi Clarke, executive director of the Sandals Foundation, weighed in on the importance of the Earth Day campaign.
“Sustainably increasing food and agricultural production is critical to ensuring the presence of fresh local foods for our Caribbean families for years to come. The Trees for Life campaign represents our continued pledge to environmental protection as a company, while empowering Caribbean communities with the tools and natural resources to meet their nutritional needs.”
In Jamaica, Sandals Foundation volunteers, environment, health and safety guardians and guests from Sandals and Beaches Resorts rolled up their sleeves and flocked to nearby schools and communities to plant over 500 fruit, ornamental, and forest trees. At the Salem Primary School, a group from Sandals South Coast planted 50 fruit trees, including east Indian mango, St Julian mango, assorted citrus, and avocado. In the west, teams from Sandals and Beaches Resorts in Negril planted 80 fruit and ornamental trees on the grounds of Cove Primary, Kendal Primary, and Kendal Basic schools.
Meanwhile, Sandals Montego Bay and Sandals Royal Caribbean volunteers visited Springfield and planted 100 fruit and forest trees, including jackfruit, breadfruit, ackee, otaheite apple, sweet tamarind, Blue Mahoe, Cedar West Indies, and Jamaican Mahogany.
Beaches Ocho Rios Front Office Supervisor Cordella Miller was overjoyed to be a part of the tree-planting exercise. “This project today created a real sense of camaraderie among our team members in this region and the Forestry Department. I believe if we plant more trees we will have less soil erosion and pollution, and a cleaner, healthier environment. I planted seven cedar seedlings. Even if I had planted one seedling it would still have made a difference.”
Cory Wilson from Club Sandals at Sandals Montego Bay was also on hand to lend support to the tree-planting exercise in the Montego Bay region. He noted that, even as a child growing up he loved the idea of ‘growing what we eat and eating what we grow’. “Initiatives like this one reinforce the fact that we can, as individuals, have an impact and help our communities become more self-sufficient by employing sustainable practises,” he said.
Now, with more than 900 steps forward across Jamaica, Antigua, Curacao, Barbados, Turks and Caicos Islands, The Bahamas, Saint Lucia and Grenada, the Trees for Life campaign builds on the tree-planting milestones of years past. In 2021, the Sandals Foundation ambitiously pledged to plant 10,000 trees throughout the Caribbean, not only quickly achieving that goal, but expanding on it by an additional 10,000 trees in 2022. With this incredible start to the year through the Earth Day Trees for Life campaign, the philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International is solidifying its mandate in strengthening food security in the region.
With a mixture of fruit, forest, and ornamental seedlings purchased from local forestry departments and nurseries, the planted seedlings are expected to blossom in a span of two years, providing food resources for surrounding students and families.
“Sandals Foundation and our parent company, Sandals Resorts International, are using the power of tourism to plan for a secure future and we are committed to providing the skills and tools needed to create resilient food supply systems and food forests in local schools and communities to ensure access to sustainable and nutritious meals,” said Rochelle Forbes-Reid Public Relations Manager for Sandals Resorts in the Montego Bay Region and Sandals Foundation ambassador.
Persons wishing to support the tree planting efforts can visit the Sandals Foundation website at www.sandalsfoundation.org and donate to the ‘Trees for Life’. One hundred percent of all funds donated will be directed towards purchasing seedlings and maintaining the plant sites to ensure tree survival.