A Tropical American Ethnobotanical Garden – Why?
1. It would ‘fill the void’ and complete this marvelous collection both in terms of its historic relevance, and in terms of the increasing current interest in native plants and ethnobotany.
2. It would provide a valuable learning resource for the current training institution, leading to the development of a wider range of courses with real ‘in-situ’ experiences. Further courses for adults will be developed aimed at those interested in conserving regional flora.
3. It would increase the range of raw materials for groups such as Biocultural Education and Research Programme; for others who also wish to use the plants; and those who aim to protect and promote traditional crafts that use local plants.
4. For school visits to Andromeda, the new garden would provide much more varied and relevant educational opportunities.
5. If the exterior classroom is built (plans are for a series of decks across the stream by the silk cotton trees), this space will be ‘multi-use’. It would be an area for classes (children and adults), poetry readings or simply a space for the community to sit/picnic/reflect.
6. It is hoped that this garden would increase the number of visitors from overseas. There will be nothing like it in the world.
7. New native plants suitable to the location will also be introduced.
8. As the new garden will not be overly managed, many areas, once established, will remain undisturbed. Insects and animals should be able to thrive, thus increasing the biodiversity found at Andromeda.
9. The garden will illustrate water-wise gardening and hopefully inspire others. No irrigation will be required apart from watering the garden during new plant establishment. Some plants will last through droughts, others will die back and return with the rains. As Barbados is a water-scarce nation, such ‘climate-smart’ horticultural/ecological practices should be encouraged.
10. Barbados' trees were decimated by colonisation and much their cultural importance was lost or destroyed. Our ancestors would have revered trees for many reasons, from being imbued with the spirits of our beloved, to being a connection with the heavens, the earth and the underground realms. These stories will be researched and the ethnobotanical uses, including rituals will be highlighted – not just within the Ethnobotanical Garden but across the whole of Andromeda – home to over 100 tree species, many planted by Mrs. Bannochie. Today tree-planting is recognized as a way to mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as adding to biodiversity. Here one of the principal aims would be to reconnect with a fabulous part of our human history.
11. The Ethnobotanical Garden would be relevant to the people of Barbados and would help to tell the stories of black peoples; promote African and Caribbean botanical knowledge; and connect people to a neglected part of human culture.