That great sage and philosopher Kermit The Frog has taught us many valuable lessons over the years. Remember him singing “Being Green?” At first, he laments his uniqueness, but by song’s end, he’s celebrating it, happily warbling that green is…”beautiful, and I think it’s what I want to be.”
The folks at Divi Southwinds in Barbados totally agree. They’re singing the same tune and going green, embracing a variety of environmental initiatives that sets the resort apart.
You may have heard of the farm-to-table movement. Well, what’s going on at Divi Southwinds is something unique: the resort-to-table movement. Divi Southwinds is now serving vegetables grown right on its own land. The resort built a greenhouse, and upon completion in late November, seeds were sown that have now sprouted lettuce, tomatoes, okra, squash, pumpkins, watermelons and herbs. The lettuce has already made its way to the table at the resort’s Bajan Breeze restaurant.
That occurred the night of March 11, 2013. Salad was on the menu, as it always is, but this time there was a difference: the lettuce was just picked and just a short distance from the kitchen’s door. Chef Henderson, along with Porter Jimmy Smith and Ryan Clarke, who is restaurant and bar manager, did the honors, hauling in 11 heads of lettuce that day, along with a half pound of parsley.
According to Alvin Barnes, environmental manager at Divi Southwinds, more fresh-from-the- greenhouse vegetables have been enjoyed by guests and staff since, as the watermelon, okra, squash and okra have ripened. “Chef Henderson made a wish list – marjoram, chives, parsley, thyme and sweet basil – all the herbs flavoring Caribbean cooking. We’ve obliged him with everything he asked for.”
Alvin Jemmott, longtime general manager of Divi Southwinds, also points out that all the produce is organic. Jemmott has been behind several environmental initiatives at Divi Southwinds and seeded the idea for a greenhouse. He recently implemented a policy to replant two trees for every tree that had to be removed due to storm damage, disease or old age. He wanted to ensure that there would be even more greenery as part of the property’s 16.5 acres of lush tropical gardens, which are a key feature of the resort.
Since plants are costly, Jemmott got to thinking that the hotel could create a greenhouse to raise its own plants. And, from that idea grew another one to grow herbs for the restaurant kitchens and vegetables for employee meals. At the same time, the “home grown” vegetable idea was being driven by the increasing commitment on the part of certain employees to a healthy lifestyle.
The greenhouse has yet to be planted with landscaping plants and the vegetables are now being served to Divi Southwinds guests as well as employees. But, the vegetation thriving in the greenhouse will soon be incorporated into compost to naturally fertilize the landscaping plants already in existence. “We’re looking forward to growing the role of our greenhouse in managing our property and caring for our island,” Jemmott said.
Divi Southwinds is proving Kermit’s words true: “Green can be cool.”