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Finding Ways to Bloom in a Pandemic 

Finding Ways to Bloom in a Pandemic
The challenge of coping with COVID-induced stress has caused many to dig deep into their creative reservoirs, and members of the academic community have been sharing stories of their resourcefulness with colleagues. 
For Dr. Donna Hunte-Cox, a former diplomat and previous manager of the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination (EBCCI), the ongoing pandemic has been one of her most trying times. She not only had to deal with COVID-19 anxiety but the pain of losing her mother during the pandemic. 
The former Consul General of Barbados in New York recalled that members of her family could not visit the family matriarch in hospital due to restrictions, and at times, her mom was unable to communicate via the telephone as a result of her illness. 

The ex-campus administrator found solace in gardening, a hobby that she had developed a passion for at an early age. During that time, the country was experiencing a shortage of products, including seeds and seedlings, as fear of the unknown caused residents to panic buy. Dr. Hunte-Cox was resourceful in sourcing seeds and seedlings that she utilised in her redesigned Kathy’s Garden, named in honour of her mother. 
“Going into the backyard and planting things almost became automatic, more so because the last time [mom] was at my house on the morning she was leaving, I took her on a tour of the garden,” she said, as she presented on the topic "Academics Who Bloomed During the Pandemic – Backyard Creativity" during the virtual Teaching and Learning Week held in June. 
Not only was backyard gardening a balm for her mental well-being, but it also helped her to relax, provided physical exercise and served as therapy. 
The former EBCCI manager researched the best options for gardening, and settled on garden beds, pots, raised gardens and vertical gardening using trellis. Since then, she has grown survival crops, which she described as those that would generate the most calories (potatoes, squash, beans, cabbage, and onions), nutrient crops, which are greens that are grown year-round (kale, spinach, and arugula) and supplemental crops that complement the other two categories (eggplants, melons, peppers, corn, and kohlrabi). 
Other vegetables grown in her garden included beets, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, christophene, cauliflower, eddoes, lettuce, and English potatoes. Among the herbs were basil, chives, celery, cilantro, dill, garlic, ginger, marjoram, mint, oregano, Panadol plant, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric, while her fruit trees included avocado, blackberries, cantaloupe, mulberry, passion fruit, papaya, and strawberries. 
So bountiful was her garden, that the excess she stored, gave to friends and family, and encouraged others to do the same. 
“Between May and October [of 2020], my backyard garden saved my family about $50 a week on produce, and it gave me further appreciation for some insects, a deep respect for nature and the importance of persons engaging in all aspects of agriculture on a daily basis.” 
The bountifulness and expansiveness of Dr. Hunte-Cox’s garden has inspired others, including former workmates, who developed their own backyard garden. 


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