KINGSTON, Jamaica, April 24, 2023—With an increased need for investment to strengthen the Caribbean's food security, the Sandals Foundation galvanized 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 the northern Caribbean archipelago of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands, Sandals Foundation ambassadors along with guests planted 50 fruit trees at the Stuart Manor Primary and Forest Primary Schools in Exuma and 50 yellow alders—ornamental trees—at Enid Capron Primary, Ianthe Pratt Primary, Thelma Lightbourne Primary, Oseta Jolly Primary, Clement Howell High, and Maranatha Academy in Providenciales. Through the Foundation’s continued engagement of the students in lessons surrounding agriculture and composting, the islands will continue its rich tradition of promoting environmental education among its young people, thereby preparing the next generation of environment stewards and food producers.
In Jamaica, team members 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 and guests visited Springfield and planted 75 fruit and forest trees, including jackfruit, breadfruit, ackee, otaheite apple, sweet tamarind, Blue Mahoe, Cedar West Indies, and Jamaican Mahogany.
And though not yet opened for bookings, team members from Sandals Dunn's River, the newest resort to join the all-inclusive Sandals Resorts line, also took time to plant 10 ornamental trees at Steer Town Primary in Ocho Rios. This effort, in collaboration with additional team members and guests from Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, Sandals Royal Plantation, and Beaches, Ocho Rios planted 300 forest trees at the Bogue Forest Reserve. This builds on the resorts last year's community conservation efforts, which saw nearly 200 food-bearing trees planted in Jacobs Ladder's Mustard Seed Communities, and adds to the philanthropic arm's ongoing conservation and reforestation efforts across the island.
In Antigua, a number of trees were planted at schools in the communities of Jennings Village, All Saints Road, Saint John’s, and Bendals Village, bolstering the twin island’s foundation to strengthen food security for its citizens. While in Saint Lucia, 100 citrus and mango trees were planted in the Dennery (Errand River) community and several flowers and fruit seedlings were nestled into the grounds of the Grand Anse Calliste community in Grenada.
In Barbados, the Foundation mobilized Sandals Barbados and Sandals Royal Barbados team members and guests, along with local partner Thirteen Acre Farms, to plant a total of 60 food trees. This initiative builds on the philanthropic arm's collaboration with Thirteen Acre Farms, which concluded a four-week Ministry of Agriculture-endorsed initiative, 'Farm Like A Bajan'. Through this programme, 125 students from St Catherine's Primary, St Martin's Primary, Hilda Skeene Primary, St. Philip Primary, and Baileys Primary Schools were equipped with tools and skills to improve their knowledge of agriculture and nutrition, learning practical skills, and building healthy habits.
Sandals Royal Curacao guests, volunteers, and students from Santa Marguerite's School planted trees in Curacao as part of the Sandals Foundation's Trees for Life campaign. Following the school visit, the group travelled to Zoutpanned (Salt/Pan) Lake in Boka Sami, where they learned about the importance of mangroves and their overall contribution to ecosystems, coastal resilience, and food security from Mr. Ryan De Jongh, mangrove reforesting expert, and planted mangrove seedlings.
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 over 16,000 of 20,000 trees planted, the trajectory towards meeting its second pledge continued through Earth Day’s ‘Trees for Life’ campaign.
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 is 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.