How a sustainable farming educator in Bermuda is preparing the next generation of growers, safeguarding the territory's future food security.

The tiny island of Bermuda is best known for its pink sand, golf courses and pastel houses. But its remote location and limited space mean Bermuda imports 90-95% of its food supply.

There are just 18 full-time registered farmers in this country of 65,000 people. But in a little plot of land behind an art museum, one man is working on one of the territory's big issues, fostering relationships with agriculture as a means of improving food security.


The British Overseas Territory of Bermuda is around just 54 square kilometres, the same size as Magnetic Island off the coast of Townsville. Around 5% of Bermuda is an agricultural reserve, but only half of that area is actively farmed.

International business and tourism are the main economic drivers on the island, and it's the most expensive place in the world to live, surpassing Switzerland since 2020, according to indexes by crowdsourced data site Numbeo.

Comparison website My Life Elsewhere rates Bermuda as 80.5% more expensive than Australia, thanks to high import costs and taxes on food and groceries.


When COVID-19 spread throughout the world, cracks started to show in many countries' supply chains. In the tiny territory of Bermuda, where nearly all food is imported, sustainable farming educator Chris Faria said it was a huge wake-up call.

'There was such a disruption to the food supply chain that there were definitely areas of shelves that were empty,' Mr Faria said. 'A lot of products just weren't there.'

Food security is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as: 'When all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.'

To find out more about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Bermuda's food security, a 2024 report was published in the National Library of Medicine.

The shake-up to supply chains highlighted the systemic challenges in Bermuda's food systems: limited farmlands, a tiny population of farmers, and a heavy reliance on imports.

Bermuda's agriculture is relegated to tiny plots of land, often just half an acre, tucked away between suburbs, on the sides of roads and squeezed between golf courses and parks. There are only 18 registered farmers in a population of around 65,000 people, growing vegetables and fruits, selling to some shops, as well as at roadside stalls.

'The reality is that less than half the agricultural reserve [land that's protected for farming in Bermuda] is being farmed right now,' Mr Faria said.

Prices of food in Bermuda are astronomical and continue to rise. In March 2024, 1 litre of milk cost A$6.72, and a loaf of white bread cost A$12.46.

Beyond the economic drivers of limited local food supply, Chris says societal and historical factors also need to be taken into consideration as to why agriculture hasn't been seen as a viable industry to enter.

Bermuda was first settled in 1609 by the British and was never home to an indigenous people. Under early colonial rule, landowners brought slaves from Africa, the Caribbean and North America to grow maize, tobacco, arrowroot and other crops.

With the history of slavery comes a generational trauma - a reason why some People of Colour aren't interested in working in agriculture today.

'We have a majority Black Bermudian population, and many of their ancestors were enslaved people, and we've not been able to heal from that trauma yet.'

Chris says the introduction of Portuguese farm labourers like his ancestors in the 1860s drove a further wedge into the social fabric. Newly emancipated Black Bermudians were further disenfranchised from taking up positions in agriculture.

'That's still the Bermuda we live in in 2024, there's lots of guest workers that are brought into Bermuda, and Bermudians don't have access to [some] jobs, and some of those jobs aren't even that appealing for them to take,' he said.

The work of healing that trauma is something Chris doesn't have all the answers for, but he hopes one day more Bermudians will be reconnected with the land and with agriculture.

For Chris, the wake-up call that was COVID-19 inspired him to build an enterprise that combined his love of connecting people with all things growing while helping reduce food insecurity along the way.

The Solution

As Bermudians faced empty shelves and limited fresh food options while in lockdown during the peak of COVID-19, Chris Faria looked at ways locals could have more control over their food security and reconnect with nature.

Chris saw the rising concerns over food security as an opportunity to introduce people to gardening, with the dual purpose of increasing food supply as well as helping the community benefit from the health-giving benefits of the outdoors.

He launched The AgraLiving Institute as a sustainable garden education company in 2020, turning his vision into a mission-based, for-profit social enterprise.

The AgraLiving Institute has a twofold-based approach: encouraging people to try gardening and to take control of their food security, as well as promoting a sustainable, efficient form of agriculture.

Chris hosts workshops for children and adults, with weekly sessions at the local prison and at after-school programs, and is a gardening education service provider for primary schools.

'We use gardening to foster the child's relationship with nature, and we also do that with our adult education as well.'

He also offers garden management and soil testing consultations, hoping to soon expand into biological assessment.

Given many Bermudians' inexperience in agriculture, Chris strives to not get overly complicated or scientific in the methods he teaches. For a start, he encourages minimal soil cultivation, saying that soil does best when left alone.

'The most important thing for soil health is to create permanent beds that the plants grow in and paths for the humans to walk up and down,' Chris said.

'That allows for soil structures to be built; it allows for all the microbiology to proliferate and grow.'

He also guides students on the creation of compost and on the generation of microbiological diversity to recycle nutrients. To build compost naturally, Chris says diversity in the garden is important and uses carbon crops like grains, which aren't commonly grown in Bermuda.

Chris was trained in GROW BioIntensive™ and is also studying at the Soil Food Web School under world-renowned soil biologist Dr Elaine Ingham. He hopes to use these science and evidence-based approaches in the future to improve Bermuda's commercial farming practices.

'What we'd like to do with commercial farmers is show them the way to biological solutions and show them how this can increase soil health and profits,' Mr Faria said.

The Outcome

So far, many of the outcomes of Chris's endeavours are difficult to quantify, but he hopes his work will help reconnect Bermudians with the land, whether it's through adults developing family veggie gardens or encouraging children to consider a career in agriculture.

'It's not about growing a whole bunch of tomatoes right now; it's about the impact in 20 years' time,' Chris said.

'What I would like to do is take all of that methodology and train up a bunch of young land carers, and then start connecting them to all our unused agricultural reserve.

'That is what's going to create a long-term solution to food insecurity and create food abundance.'

While many of the goals have long-term outcomes, Chris is seeing more immediate results with the 1,000 children The Agraliving Institute has engaged with so far and the growing interest in his workshops from the community and corporations.

'We're developing the industry that we're in, gardening and farming education, and land education. That's a business model that hasn't been done before in Bermuda.'

Another indicator of early success is the growth of Chris's team, which now includes 10 part-time employees. 'All of our teachers are very, very passionate and committed to our mission,' he said. 'And I really hope that we can continue to grow and create full-time employment opportunities for them.'

The business is continuing to grow, not only with income streams from workshops and contracts but also through business grants. Being a social enterprise gives The AgraLiving Institute leeway to work on projects that empower the community.

Chris is also seeking stable income through longer-term education contracts that will provide the business with a more predictable cash flow. 'I would love to be making more money, definitely, we're going to get there,' Chris said.

'But for me, being able to spend my day doing something that's purposeful and makes me feel fulfilled, that's really the best thing.'

Future Plans

Chris hopes that the children's education programs he hosts will one day expand into a wider teacher-run cooperative, leading to a more collaborative, sustainable and stronger agricultural sector in years to come.

He believes his approach will not only grow Bermuda's agricultural sector but also reconnect his community to the joy of growing nutritious food for their families and neighbours, putting an end to scarcity in times of crisis and disruption.