Grenada is a small Caribbean Island that grows crops such as ginger, cardamom, and cloves. The nation is rich in biodiversity but challenged in the face of climate change and in accessing new markets and creating opportunities for education and the socio-economic development of its people. Lynda Paula Douglas (’23) and Niger Timothy Houston (’25) came to EARTH with the goal to return home to Grenada after completing their degrees to drive positive transformation in their communities.
Turning Farming Into a Dream
Lynda Paula Douglas was nine when she and her family moved to her grandfather’s farm, a fertile land that grew cacao, bananas, and spices. From the experience, Lynda developed an affinity for things that grow in the soil, observing every stage of the process and learning how to care for the plants.
One day, her sister gave her a newspaper article about a donor who gave scholarships to EARTH. Lynda had already devoted much of her time to farming, working as a farm manager after finishing high school. She had also sold poultry, pork, and honey. EARTH seemed like a natural fit for Lynda’s interests.
“I think I was accepted into EARTH because I am a young woman already working in farming in my country. I have always felt discouraged because of my country’s low income, but with my ideas, I feel I can help my people. The only thing I was missing was the knowledge I am gaining at the University,” says Lynda.
Lynda did a third-year professional internship at the Caribbean Botanical Garden near the Guácimo Campus. There she worked in garden maintenance and learned about orchid pollination, what fertilizers to use on plants, and pest management. Now in her fourth and final year at EARTH, Lynda oversees the University’s Botanical Garden and is implementing ideas for improvement. After graduation, she plans to return to Grenada and use what she has learned at EARTH to help others improve their farming practices.
“My main goal is to create an agroecology business in my country. I want to develop an educational farm that will serve as a model, where people can come to learn. I want to introduce some of the many alternative practices I have learned in and out of the classroom to help with the challenges facing Grenada. For instance, there is a lot of inconsistency in farming production with frequent surpluses in the market. Farmers need to learn new techniques, for example, how to take advantage of organic waste produced on their farms to help reduce production costs. My mission is to share the knowledge I have gained at this University,” Lynda concludes.
A Commitment to His Roots
Niger Timothy Houston was born with farming in his blood. His parents are subsistence farmers and have supported the family through small-scale sales of the crops they market. From a young age, Timothy saw through his own eyes and life experience how vital agriculture is to sustaining the world.
Timothy always wanted to pursue a profession, but the elementary school system in his rural community was small, and the opportunities to receive a good education were limited. He did his best to be an exemplary student, and his family always supported him. At age 18, Timothy finished high school. With few options for higher education, he attended a local community college to study natural sciences. But a year later, he came across an EARTH advertisement online, and his life changed forever.
“I saw an ad for EARTH on Facebook. At first, I thought I wasn’t qualified enough or smart enough to go to a university, but when I saw the variety of things they taught at EARTH, I was amazed. When I was accepted, my parents were thrilled, and my father told me, ‘What we have invested in you has been worth it,’” Timothy says proudly.
Although Timothy is only in his second year, he is already making his mark at EARTH. His enthusiasm is contagious. As part of the Tropical Crops course, he learned how to control weeds with non-chemical methods. While working on his business project, he identified a plant that wasn’t yet part of EARTH’s collection. In collaboration with the faculty, Timothy mounted and documented the plant and submitted it as part of the collection. In addition, he has expanded his knowledge of bees by working closely with Professor Annie Tremblay, who teaches elective courses on beekeeping and bee conservation. Timothy is also developing a business project focused on passion fruit production as part of the second-year requirement for students to learn how to set up and manage a business.
Timothy is optimistic about his country’s future. “Right now, Grenada’s farming is improving. There is investment in the sector, and various incentives are being implemented to develop exports. I want to expand my family’s land and also establish a program that will allow us to hire people to work and receive a fair wage. Most people where I live go to community college. But you only learn how to be an employee there. I want to be an employer. But not just any employer. I want to be a good one. I want to create jobs for everyone because I want to give back to my community,” he says.