the training farm
Hands-On Agricultural Education & Training in Eleuthera
Prior to independence, Eleuthera was known as the “Breadbasket of The Bahamas” because of the large quantities of milk, eggs, and crops that were produced or grown on the island and shipped to Nassau and other family islands. The Training Farm at CTI was created to increase food and local subsistence farming through education and training and to recruit and equip the next generation of farmers to reclaim and build on Eleuthera’s proud agricultural heritage.
Explore the Farm
Every aspect of our solar-powered farm — its produce, processes, and facilities — is used for student, farmer, and community training in a hands-on, “live lab” setting.
Our farm facilities include:
- A state-of-the-art 1.1-acre Retractable Roof Grow House using organic soil-based techniques as well as hydroponic production techniques
- A Deep-Water Culture hydroponic pond for leafy greens production
- A Bato Bucket hydroponic system for tomato and cucumber production
- A variety of raised soil beds using organic techniques for vegetable and herb production
- A seedling nursery
- a packing house for cleaning and packaging farm produce
- a 1-million-gallon water rain catchment reservoir
- 15.2 kW ground-mount photovoltaic (PV) solar power system
- A functional apiary
- “The Honey Shack” – a honey processing facility and free resource for local beekeepers.
- more than 100 laying chickens that provide fresh eggs weekly
- an open-air, multipurpose building that doubles as a Farmers Market venue, classroom, and workshop space
Goals of the Farm
Train Local Farmers
We are supporting and strengthening Eleuthera’s existing farmers and recruiting and training the next generation of youth farmers to take ensure the viability and continuity of the industry. Utilizing our diverse facilities and the expertise and extensive experience of our farm team we are teaching, sustainable farming, soil management, crop rotation, apiology, hydroponics, vegetable harvesting, seedling production and other agricultural skills that are essential for The Bahamas’ food security and long-term independence. Each year, the farm offers a range of classes and workshops free of charge or at a minimal cost to help strengthen, support and educate our local farming community. The farm is a live laboratory open to all – domestically and internationally — who want to deepen their agricultural knowledge.
Provide Access to Valuable Resources
We provide our local farmers with new strategies and enhanced techniques to improve their crop quality, harvest yields and farm operations. Through ongoing training opportunities, workshops, and the sharing of best practices we aim to support Eleuthera’s farmers and utilize our farm and facilities as a collaborative hands-on learning environment that fosters cooperation, advancement, and growth.
We provide farmers with access to additional resources and training programs administered in conjunction with local and international experts and leading organizations such as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Program.
Lead in Farming Innovation
Our goal in developing the farm is to use sustainable techniques that make the most sense for our sub-tropical climate and soil conditions. We have selected a variety of technologies to maximize the opportunity for learning for our students. Our soil production techniques are based on our local soil which has been analyzed and enhanced with various organic amendments. This farming technique is the most cost-efficient way of starting vegetable production with minimal investment and lower operational costs.
In the Oasis Growhouse, our Deep-Water Culture (DWC) hydroponic pond coupled with our Oxygen Nanobubbler allows us to produce healthy plants even in high-heat conditions. Nanobubbles produced by a specialized pump and system placed in the “hydro pond” increase dissolved oxygen levels in the water, reducing harmful pathogens, algae, and biofilm that have access to the plant’s roots. Typically, there is a significant increase in all growth variables, such as stem diameter and plant height, weight, and size, with more leaves produced compared to plants given conventional water. Most notably, this kind of water system promotes enhanced nutrient absorption by plant roots and produces larger and more vibrant crops.
One of the factors in our selection of this technique is that it can withstand power failures that are common on our island. Our decision to use Bato Buckets for hydroponic production of vine crops in the Growhouse was made because the system is quite easy to set up and very scalable, so any of our students can start their own farms with the training gained at our facility.
These examples show some of the ways we are integrating “attainable” farming technology and innovations to enhance local farming and introduce shared learning opportunities for local farmers to adopt and benefit from.
Improve Community Health Through Agriculture
The food we eat creates the very building blocks our bodies need to maintain our health, homeostasis, and vitality. We aim to help our communities restore their connection to the earth, healthful foods and better health by cultivating simple growing practices to start and maintain their own home and community vegetable gardens.
By increasing access to nutrient-rich foods and promoting physical exercise through backyard gardening we are giving the gift of improved health and a regimen that can increase the wellness and overall quality of life for individuals and communities. This is essential given our population’s struggle with non-communicable diseases that in many cases, can be mitigated or reversed through dietary changes and exercise.
Support Our Training Farm
Your donation to the One Eleuthera Foundation supports our efforts to provide educational and training opportunities for local farmers while increasing local food security and community health. Please consider making a recurring donation to support the valuable work of our farm.