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Jamaican nonprofit organization announces aquaponics plan

Visiting dignitaries from Jamaica on Wednesday got a look at plans for a new aquaponics garden at the Leesburg Mobile Home Park from Leesburg-based nonprofit INMED USA and developer and park owner David Gregory.

Gregory purchased the park after a previous developer, with plans to displace the residents and redevelop the park for townhouses, backed out of a contract to buy it. Since then, he has also partnered with nonprofit INMED on plans to bring new services to park residents.

On Aug. 31, Jamaican 4-H and government leaders, including Jamaica 4-H Clubs President Ronald Blake, Global 4-H Council Vice Chairman Collin Virgo, and Jamaican Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture & Fisheries Franklyn Witter visited another of Gregory’s properties, the former scrapyard at the end of Depot Court in Leesburg, to hear about the new plans, which also include a restaurant and greenhouses at another of his properties, Graydon Manor. They were also joined by representatives from the nonprofit One Sparrow.

INMED U.S. Programs Director Jennifer Lassiter Smith said the aquaponics project is the next step in serving the park community with both fresh produce and nutrition education. She said children in the park community would also have the opportunity to collaborate with members of the Jamaica 4-H Clubs.

“It starts with access to healthy and organic food, and our partners in 4-H and their curriculum in educating children around sustainable, agriculture, and cultural exchange,” she said.

Witter complimented the plans and the work for the park community so far and said rural Loudoun reminds him of the rural area in Jamaica where he lives. He also pointed to INMED’s partnership with Jamaica 4-H Clubs, where it first launched its INMED Aquaponics Social Enterprise. “It was a really impactful project, and we are here from Jamaica to cement those partnerships and to make sure that we can strengthen the partnership,” he said.

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