Working through COVID to serve the Bahamas

Ken Banks, Phd, PE, has been a TTFF hero and volunteer since 2015.   He initially discovered Trees That Feed Foundation online, and because of his familiarity with breadfruit, was interested in helping.  Living in Florida, Ken has become instrumental in transporting trees to the Caribbean.

Happy farmer with breadfruit saplings, courtesy of TTFF

Most recently Ken coordinated the shipping of 500 breadfruit trees to hurricane devastated Abaco, Northern Bahamas.  The Bahamas is made up of 700 islands spread over 500 miles. Last September Hurricane Dorian left the northern islands with no power, water, telecommunications, or sewage service.  Roads, homes, hospitals, stores, hotels, airports, and power grids were damaged and destroyed.  Aftereffects of the disaster are still devastating, and TTFF is sending breadfruit trees to help rebuild.

After the hurricane, Ken found a family farm in Abaco, Abaco Neem, that was eager to help TTFF.  They connected him to Josefina Adderley-Curry (OIC, Ministry of Agriculture) to head the Bahama team. Josefina will coordinate with schools, homeowners and farmers to plant the breadfruit trees.

Already now in August, the tiny trees are ready to be planted in the field

500 tree saplings 7-8 inches tall, packed 72 in a box, were sent overnight from Tissue Grown Corporation in California to the shipping agent, Abaco Freight, in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Kimber Mazzeo of Abaco Freight took the trees home in their sealed boxes to keep them in air conditioning overnight until they could be flown 180 miles to the island of Abaco.  The Bahama team there had to quickly get the delicate saplings out of the boxes and repot them in soil.  Plants were watered and put into a shade house (which volunteers had to build!) for protection as they acclimated to their new environment.

500 breadfruit saplings repotted and hardening in shade house

During the acclimation, the Abaco islands were hit by tropical storm Isaias, but Josefina took great measures to distribute trees to local farmers before the storm struck.  This was an extraordinary logistical and volunteer challenge!

Ideally the goal is to have a grower in each country to propagate the plants, avoiding problems with transportation and permitting costs.  But today transportation is an issue, and COVID19 presents even greater challenges.

Ruth Saunders, Brendan Saunders, Eva Adderley, Lorenz Carter, Ti & Brenda Gedeon, Victoria Forbes, Vashti Farrington, Lance Pinder, Daphne de Gregory-Miaoulis, Lyndeisha W. Curry, Glenn & Tracey Kelly, Gaylene Reitsma, Evince Joseph

TTFF is grateful to all the members of this partnership team for their dedication to the shared goal of food security.  We are working hard to help communities help themselves and without strong partners like Ken and Josefina and her team, challenging projects like this would not see success.  Thank you all!

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