Our vision for Nazareth Gardens is to introduce ‘urban gardens’ into poor and underserved communities which are deprived of the amenities and attention enjoyed by the more affluent areas in our society. The goal is to inspire positive and uplifting community change in health, societal lifestyle, food security, and to “Green” our inner residential areas.
The rapid human transmissibility of the SARS2 COVID 19 virus and the devastating effects this pandemic continues to have on the lives and wellbeing of so many people and communities motivated In the Gap Institute to create the concept of Nazareth Gardens.
Belize’s mainstay and most important industry remains tourism. This industry has been practically eclipsed because of travel restrictions, border closures and lockdowns in our tourism source countries. As many as one-third of our 400,000 people work directly or indirectly, or benefit from this industry. The consequential loss of employment and livelihood creates insecurity and continues to pose a challenge to those affected. But, behind every challenge lies an opportunity, and “Nazareth Gardens” seeks to present an urban agricultural plan to provide communities with the means of sustainable development. This plan will include technology transfer to introduce modern agricultural practices designed to enhance productivity. The success of this plan will result in converting vulnerable communities into more strengthened, vibrant and thriving inner-city neighbourhoods.
The plan for “Nazareth Gardens” is to invite single women head of households to partner to plant out urban gardens in their neighbourhood, whether in their own backyards or on community land.
The tangible outcomes of this project meet the international standards for sustainable development: economic, social and environmental:
- (Economic) Food Security: A reliable supply of food equals sustainability in this novel farming approach. Nazareth Gardens will concentrate on the planting of vegetables as a healthy food source for consumption and sale. The families will benefit from consumption of vegetables in a demographic which tends toward a heavy carbohydrate diet. This project will also provide our mothers with the tools to become entrepreneurs by placing the excess produce into a vegetable value chain for sale through the “Nazareth Gardens” non-traditional distribution network of partners. The obvious benefit is to gain food security, strengthen local communities and restore the dignity of work to families in need. The harmonious combination of food security and meeting the threshold for earning an income can potentially transform Belize City south side communities, as well as those rural areas participating in the project, in a positive social, economic and spiritual manner.
- (Social) Promoting Healthy Communities: One of the essential dynamics of this program is to encourage a shift in lifestyle, and through educational seminars and support, to promote the benefits of incorporating a healthy diet in their everyday life. Nazareth Gardens will create more affordable access to healthy, balanced and nutritious diets and help to shift behavioral food eating patterns. Parents being the first teachers, through example and lifestyle, food changes can teach youths and raise a new generation who appreciates healthy diets and learn to appreciate healthy urban agriculture.
- (Environmental) “Green Cities”. Nazareth Gardens will bring an enriching agricultural experience, utilizing urban gardens which will beautify the landscape and psychologically elevate the mind. This business model partners with landowners of vacant properties, thereby transforming empty, overgrown lots into greener and healthier environments. An added benefit of this project is to teach responsible stewardship of the land. The twin dimensions of sustainable agriculture and environmental enhancement is a healing concept which allows participants to reconnect with mother nature.