On a beautiful Eleuthera afternoon there was a small gathering in the fields of corn at Apple Hole Farm to celebrate a big partnership between Edrin Symonette and Cape Eleuthera Island School. Among those gathered was long time Cape Eleuthera Island School mentor, Mr. Philip Miller, currently Undersecretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources. The partnership includes an initial investment of $5,000 by Cape Eleuthera Island School and is a celebration of the cooperation already in place that brings fresh locally grown meat from the fields of Apple Hole Farm to the dining tables at The Island School. Josh Shultz, CEIS Agriculture Manager, and Emery Long (F'04), Sustainable Chef at The Island School, have been working closely with Mr. Symonette to bring fresh, local, healthy foods to the table. Perhaps more importantly, the partnership will continue to educate future leaders in The Bahamas and students from around the world about the importance of reviving local agriculture and supporting local farmers wherever one lives.
The future is bright as Mr. Symonette looks to increase his herd of cattle and mutton. Chris Maxey, Founder and Dircetor of CEIS, sees this new commitment as a significant move to further bridge the CEIS with the local community. In addition to supplying food for the campus, the partnership taps Mr. Symonette's expertise by enlisting him as a teacher for the school and research facility. In return CEIS will continue to invest, help with funding, and bring new technologies, such as solar powered irrigation to Apple Hole Farm. Future plans go beyond commitments to purchase beef and mutton. With the acres of guinea corn under cultivation there is an opportunity to replace the hundreds of pounds of grits CIES imports with a locally grown alternative—and CEIS students would be called upon to grind corn the way people used to do back before the dependence on imported food.
CEIS's commitment to work with local farmers goes beyond this partnership with Apple Hole Farm. Its ultimate goal is to collaborate with government and local communities to start an agricultural park where significant strides towards keeping money and investment on Eleuthera can be sustained. Said Edrin Symonette of the accord, "partnership is the only way farmers will survive. I can do this on my own but achieve so much more together."