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First Lady Unveils Composting Efforts

April 22, 2009 — As another component of her Healthy V.I. Challenge, Cecile DeJongh marked Earth Day with the launch of a composting project at Government House facilities on all three islands.
The project was organized in conjunction with the Agriculture Department, the university's Cooperative Extension Service, Government House and Richard Pluke of Fintrac. Composting facilities have been installed on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix, according to a Government House news release.
"This exciting initiative is one more step in our effort to raise awareness on the importance of healthy living and overall wellness for all residents of the territory," deJongh said. "I encourage members of the community to learn more about composting as part of a daily routine, as it reduces overall waste and generates top-quality soil that is useful in growing vegetables and maintaining good environmental stewardship."
Each compost site is maintained by Government House staff members, who attended workshops hosted by deJongh earlier this month on both University of the Virgin Islands campuses. Since the initiative is also part of deJongh's School Gardens Project, representatives from local elementary schools also attended the workshops, which gave an overview of the basics of composting and compost-site maintenance. Both workshops were run by Extension's Carlos Robles.
The St. Thomas compost site is located in the first lady's garden, and will be maintained by Government House staff members Noel Green and Kent Myers. The St. Croix site will be maintained by Arsenio Osorio, Justin Lestrade and Julio Echevarria, while the St. John site — located in the front yard of the Battery — will be maintained by Willis Fahie and Preston Evans. Nutrient-rich soil produced by the sites will be used in vegetable-garden plots that are currently being planned for all three Government House locations, according to the press release.
"As a community and as individuals and families, it's important for us to recognize the significance of Earth Day and become involved in daily practices that reduce waste and energy consumption, improve the environment and empower our community," deJongh said. "Composting is a wonderful example of what we can all do to create a healthier living environment."
As part of the School Gardens Project, deJongh has also organized a raffle for a compost bin that has been awarded to Joseph Sibilly Elementary School. The bin was donated by the Environmental Association of St. Thomas-St. John and built by EAST volunteers. Materials needed to build the bin were donated by John Eck from Sanitation Solutions, Tom Brunt of the St. Thomas-St. John Chamber of Commerce, and Yanick Bayard of MSI, Sea Chest, and the Paint Depot.
"As we celebrate Earth Day, it is an important time for members of the community to partner in building a long-term commitment to green our schools and encourage a healthier lifestyle while taking steps to improve the community's overall environmental health," deJongh said.
Earth Day was founded in 1970 by Democratic U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.
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