Posted: Monday, April 24, 2023. 11:38 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: On Thursday the Leadership Intervention Unit teamed up with the Ministry of Agriculture to kick off its training program to support former gang members in a pivot from street hustling in the concrete jungle to sustainable farming in the bush.
And while one would not expect a beauty queen to be a guest at this type of activity, Elise Guion Vernon, Miss World Belize, is not your ordinary beauty queen, as she explains: “Aside from this beautiful crown that I wear, I wrestle cows, I deal with my bees – everything that you can think about, so I hold several other titles. Being a farmer is something I have always been proud of. I was introduced to farming through my grandfather Angus Vernon and my grandmother Marie Vernon. As a child, I spent my summers and Easters on the farm, learning to care for the cows and feeding the older cattle. Years later, my mom and I had to handle the ropes…I had to learn to deal with everything.”
She added that agriculture is very much a science: “I love learning the science behind agriculture because agriculture is not just putting a tree in the ground.”
And while someone tried to take out a member of the program, Jervis “Diamond” Valencia, as he was leaving the venue, others who attended were unfazed.
Brandon Baptist told Channel 7 News that with the current “hard times” he understands that “the more we plant, the more we will eat” and that he hopes to have a plot of land all his own where he can grow food and stay out of trouble.
While the LIU spearheads this project, the next few weeks of training are being conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture. The men will be working on the property at Grace Bank, Belize District, donated for the purpose by Dr Alvaro Rosado, father of the late Ariel Rosado and chair of his foundation.
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