Training Community Food Guardians

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

The Global Shapers Community is a network of youth activists taking an active role in shaping the future by driving dialogue and solutions for change. Recently the Port of Spain hub of the community was honored as one of six winners of the Climate and Environment Grant Challenge, initiated through the partnership between Rosamund Zander, The Climate Reality Project, and The World Economic Forum. 

As an island nation, Trinidad and Tobago imports most of its food. Activists in Port of Spain, the nation’s coastal capital, saw an opportunity not only to train community members in agriculture to boost food production, but specifically in sustainable and regenerative practices that would benefit the environment as well as help to feed local people. 

A team from the Port of Spain hub of the Global Shapers Community developed a program to teach and empower local farmers and communities, ultimately resulting in economic, environmental, and human health benefits all thanks to regenerative practices. 

The team was inspired by nature herself when creating the vision and the project, says Brooke Hadeed. 

“We wanted to spread the mindset that there is no waste in nature. Nature's waste can all be decomposed and recycled back into the soil to re-establish life.”

To learn more about climate work in the Caribbean, check out the Climate Reality Project Latin America at and follow them on social media:

In Their Own Words

What was the problem you saw?

We discovered that there was a vulnerability in our food security and supply chain. We need food for survival, of course, but the vast majority of food we consume here is imported. We have a lack of production of a wide variety of food items. We wanted to not only teach people about the harm of traditional farming (monocropping and chemical fertilizers) but also to provide agriculture training and teach about regenerative agriculture and sustainable ways of farming. We want to demonstrate that we can produce not only more but also better.

What was your idea/insight to solve it and the end result/vision you wanted to achieve?

We wanted to spread the mindset that there is no waste in nature. Nature's waste can all be decomposed and recycled back into the soil to re-establish life. You can see that when you start to use nature’s outputs instead of inputting chemical fertilizers and pesticides, you realize that you can move away from these practices and transition to regenerative farming. Many of the fundamental principles of regenerative agriculture are around polyculture and building resiliency into your farm and your production; having cover crops that help prevent crops from weathering ailments; not practicing monoculture or using chemical inputs; regenerating the waste created on your farm. We are currently educating 25 farmers at a permaculture farm and although regenerative farming is a lengthy process, we aim to extend it to multiple sites.

Why is this solution important to your country and community?

Food systems are globally interconnected, and we wanted to have our community produce food without reliance on imported produce and localize the entire system. It creates greater food access and health and wellness in these communities. Some islands do not have these practices on this scale at all. A project proposal from 2013, a year after our hub started, wanted to do a project on the same site at Wasamaki, which displays how crucial this issue is to our community. To finally bring this to fruition means that we can provide this knowledge and opportunity that can be passed down and accessed by a multitude of farms and communities.  

What were the biggest challenges you faced/ran into?

Due to the pandemic, our project was delayed. We were experiencing periods of restrictions and shutdowns as well as facing the unease of being together in these spaces. Some participants were unable to attend due to falling ill and having to be quarantined. Despite these challenges, the majority of restrictions were lifted a couple of weeks before we began the training. We have an open classroom space with air circulation with the opportunity for people to spread out, and we encourage participants to wear masks if it makes them comfortable.  

How did you mobilize people to take actions?

Inclusivity is crucial to making change; we have a large diversity in gender and age and have received applications from farmers to students. Finding the right application in your context that is most universal to everybody, so no one is left out, was very important. We found that WhatsApp is a great form of communication as we can create groups, it is easily accessible, and it is a great channel for us to blast out information and content about the events. Utilizing social media generated a huge response across many islands in the Caribbean. Many people did not know that there was a project like this out here, and once they heard about it, they wanted to get involved.

Who were the key stakeholders/partners that worked with you?

We knew that we were going to be facilitators in this project as we did not have this agricultural expertise ourselves, but we have a great network of people within our hub as well as the community members. Wa Samaki, our main partner, created the majority of our content on regenerative agriculture. Their facility allows for this classroom learning as well as practical field learning in regenerative methods. Our partner, WHYFARM, assisted farmers in increasing their production, accessing finances, and preparing grant and business proposals. We did not want to only provide field training but have the opportunity to create sustainable enterprises and be successful using regenerative practices. Another great partner was a social media advisor in NAMDEVCO, which gave our participants access to new types of markets and created an understanding of how to market and sell their products on online platforms. 

What insight, ideas, or suggestions would you offer someone looking to take action similarly?

If you are looking to build natural solutions, you have to be cognizant of your surrounding environment, think about the context, and what resources are locally available. Nature-based solutions differ everywhere you go (even within countries), so projects cannot be replicated due to different climate systems, but you can become inspired by the work that others are doing. Understand your problem, and do research into what is causing the issue as well as other surrounding issues in your community. These solutions need to derive from the land, the people, and the nature around you. 

How did this project you created promote equity or justice in your community?

Regenerative farming provides economic, environmental, and human health benefits to our communities. We have heard from our farmers that their costs of inputs have decreased, and another one of the farmers we interviewed spoke about how they stopped using chemical fertilizer after the first week because they did not realize how harmful it was to themselves and the health of their family. This is a very powerful connection being made, as when we stop using these chemicals, it prevents them from getting into the food, the soil, or running off into the water. It is healthier for the entire community.