GARD Center launched its 2023 Farm-to-Table Fundraiser

GARD Center launched its 2023 Farm-to-Table Fundraiser

Gilbert Agricultural and Rural Development Center (GARD Center) launched its Farm-to-Table Fundraiser on 10th March at their compound Mercers Creek. This year would mark the sixth of its kind but not in annual succession, and this was due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The last event was held in 2019, and because of the postponement due to the pandemic, the 2023 fundraiser was labelled with the theme “Farm-to-Table Reloaded.” This year’s event will be held under the Distinguished Patronage of the Governor General, Sir Rodney Williams and Lady Sandra Williams. The invocation was delivered by Bishop Everald Galbraith. Dame Eusalyn Lewis was the Master of Ceremonies, and she gave a brief recount of the formation of the GARD Center, which will soon celebrate 34 years of existence.

In her opening remarks, June Jackson, the Executive Director, spoke about the upcoming event and its Premier Sponsor, the James & Maginley Charity and Care Foundation. “We are honoured to have friends and supporters like the James & Maginley Charity and Care Foundation for their support through the years, and once again, they are here to contribute towards a needed and worthy cause,” Jackson said.

Minister E.P. Chet Greene, Minister of Agriculture, in his remarks, emphasised the reasons pertaining to his support for the work of the GARD Center given the organisation’s good track record. Further, he challenged the GARD Center to duplicate such an event in his constituency and pledged his personal commitment and support to the Center and its upcoming event. “As the newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, I found that it was necessary to be in attendance today. I should be in Parliament as we speak, but I wanted to demonstrate my support to this organisation, the work that has been achieved through the years and additionally encourage that events such as these be duplicated across the island,” Minister Green said.

Speaking on behalf of the Premier Sponsor was the co-founder, Mr Kirthley Maginley. The Charity began in 2016, and its mandate is to “improve the lives and well-being of the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, particularly the most vulnerable,” this goes hand-in-hand with the GARD Center, for the years they have been actively involved with vocational education and training for the youth. During his remarks, Mr Maginley introduced his company’s Accounting and Finance Manager, Ms Sandra Vouzan, and spoke about remaining involved with the GARD Center, its activities and fundraising efforts. “Each time I speak at a GARD Center event such as this, I get confused because I wear two hats, one of which I am a director of the GARD Center Board and also a friend/sponsor, but either way, I am very humbled and honoured to be a part of the GARD Center,” said Mr Maginley.

The climax of this prestigious event was the official handover of the sponsorship cheque, which is a good start for the fundraiser. This year’s Farm-to-Table fundraiser event will be held on Saturday, 15th April, and the contribution is $175.00 per ticket. Other donations, both monetary and in kind, will be accepted. Proceeds are in aid of futuristic education and training, and projects. The funds raised will assist the Center to continue its work to train and empower the youth of this nation. Through commitments like this, the GARD Center is able to provide positive programmes that empower individuals across Antigua & Barbuda in the areas of youth skills, entrepreneurship, and agriculture.