Loudoun Welcomes Dignitaries from Jamaica

AUGUST 31, 2022 (Leesburg, VA): Loudoun County elected officials welcomed a distinguished delegation of government officials from Jamaica to Leesburg today at a special reception hosted by INMED Partnerships for Children and INMED USA. The event was part of a three-day strategic planning session between INMED and Jamaica 4-H Clubs, a program of the Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, to promote climate-smart agriculture for community development.

INMED has been strengthening food security, climate adaptation and sustainable livelihoods in Jamaica since 2002. Earlier this year, INMED expanded its work in Jamaica by launching the INMED Aquaponics® Social Enterprise in partnership with Jamaica 4-H Clubs to provide training in climate-smart agriculture to youth.

Minister of State in the Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Franklin Witter, J.P., M.P. and high-level representatives of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs took the opportunity to tour the site of INMED USA’s future community aquaponics garden at the Leesburg Mobile Home Park (LMHP), where the reception was held. “We are excited to offer all the support and services we provide at our Sterling Opportunity Center–and globally through aquaponics–to the residents of the Loudoun Mobile Home Park right in their own backyard,” said INMED U.S. Programs Director Jennifer Lassiter Smith.

A community aquaponics garden planned for the LMHP will provide fresh, all-natural produce to the families year-round, supplemented by nutrition education, wellness workshops, fitness classes and other resources the families need to narrow health equity and food security gaps. “Kids in the mobile home community will also have the opportunity to collaborate with members of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs to learn about and practice sustainable agriculture at the community garden or in their own home gardens,” added Smith.

The LMHP community is home to 130 low-income families that have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and sky-rocketing inflation. INMED USA has been working closely with the new property owner, David Gregory, to improve conditions and opportunities for the community.

Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall toured the site and welcomed the distinguished visitors, including Dr. Ronald Blake, Executive Director of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs and Technical Advisor – 4-H Regional Council (Caribbean & Latin America) and Collin Virgo, Vice Chairman of the Global 4-H Council, Regional 4-H Chairman for the Caribbean and Latin America and Chairman of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs, in addition to Minister Witter.

The Jamaican dignitaries also received a warm welcome and an official proclamation from Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk.

“From the Jamaica Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, we are very excited to explore opportunities to extend our partnership with INMED and meet the local authorities where INMED is headquartered,” said Minister Witter. “We are proud of the work we’ve accomplished together with aquaponics in Jamaica thus far and see tremendous opportunity.”

Aquaponics is a combination of hydroponics and aquaculture in a closed symbiotic system that consumes 90% less water, 75% less energy and no chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides while producing up to 10 times more harvests than traditional farming. Resilient to severe climate events, INMED Aquaponics® allows farmers to produce year-round regardless of geographic conditions. Women, youth and people with disabilities are prospering with INMED Aquaponics® on three continents, thanks to partnerships with the public and private sectors as well as organizations like Jamaica 4-H Clubs.

“Our partnership with INMED started out as a local project in Jamaica, and I’m happy to say that from this current engagement, it is morphing into a regional and global project,” said 4-H Clubs’ Collin Virgo. “This visit to INMED’s physical office has been an eye opener for our entire team. We had no idea the broad scope of work that INMED does and the fantastic things they are achieving in the communities in which they work. We are eager to expand this partnership.”

For more information about INMED USA, visit https://inmedusa.org. For more information about Jamaica 4-H Clubs, visit https://jamaica4hclubs.com.

Photos available upon request: nbaker@inmed.org.