Associate editor Cathy Carroll visited the Future Centre Trust
in Barbados. Her report follows.
ST. THOMAS -- A monarch butterfly distracted Dr. Colin Hudson.
He was giving a tour of the Future Centre Trust (FCT), a facility
that demonstrates how to create a "sustainable future" through
resource conservation, and describing why depletion of fossil fuels
will render mass tourism obsolete by 2050. Then the delicate insect
"There's a monarch butterfly," said Hudson, the driving force
behind the center. "Three thousand of them will fly from Canada to
Mexico. Not one in the swarm has ever done it before, but there's
something informing them. They are somehow plugged in to a web of
information. Their brains are so small you would need a microscope
to see them, but something is informing [them]," Hudson said.
The FCT is far from being a traditional tourist stop on the
island. Beyond the educational component of the site, it is
Hudson's passion for his fledgling project that makes the tour
refreshingly delightful and interesting. During the tour around the
four-and-a-half acres, guests learn about a variety of recycling
projects and medicinal plants.
Typically, botanical gardens are organized alphabetically
according to plants' Latin names, Hudson said, but his garden is
organized according to ailments and remedies. Several varieties of
plants are clustered around signs that read "sedatives,"
"cystitis," "colds" and "aphrodisiacs."
The FCT is "like an upside-down museum, because it's not about
history. It tries to capture the imagination and connect to the
whole web of life to which we're connected," Hudson said. It also
aims to give people practical examples of how they can conserve
resources. For example, Hudson said, "a good-size tree on the side
of a building saves five air conditioners."
The center relies on volunteers and support from sponsors, so
much of the efforts are still only in Hudson's imagination.
"Everything here will speak to you. It will be a wonderland," he
"What I've been dreaming of for here is a stage," Hudson said,
gesturing toward a level area shaded on both ends by two thick
mahogany trees. A hand-painted sign describes how the stage would
be used for productions for children and other works. The the sign,
like most of the others in areas of proposed projects, reads,
"Would you like to help?"
Hudson also envisions the center hosting poetry readings, yoga
classes and workshops in alternative forms of healing. Another sign
along a pathway reads, "Is FCT organic? Yes, because we use no
pesticides, and no, because we use herbicides on our pathway
because we do not have enough help to do the weeding. Would you
like to help?"
Hudson envisions tree houses to be built in the mahogany trees
and connected by aerial walkways, so visitors can look at the
clouds. Children will be asked how many trees they can identify
from up there, he said.
He said his dream is that in two generations, Barbados will
return to being a forest. "Roads and factories will be in huge
forests, with huge trees shading everything," he said.
"I was recently named 'an enemy of progress' by a real estate
developer," Hudson said. "I must be doing something right. We think
the FCT is the first to look at the future in a completely holistic
way," he said. For example, the island groundwater is naturally
pure because it percolates through the land's coral stone "cap,"
Hudson said, but that natural system is stressed because of the
increasing use of water and waste of water, he said. Consequently,
the FCT is looking at ways of conserving and recycling every
The center was created after Barbados hosted the United Nations
Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island
Developing States in 1994. At that time, more than 3,000 volunteers
created displays in an exhibition called "Village of Hope" that
demonstrated 28 aspects of sustainable development, according to
the FCT. Nearly 20% of the island's population paid to see the
exhibit, "an exhilarating experiment in education for
sustainability," according to the FCT. The FCT is a permanent
successor of that exhibit.
Dieter Mennekes, a German businessman and an avid windsurfer who
moved to Barbados 17 years ago, is a major benefactor of the FCT.
"I have a house here, and I want to conserve the island's
resources," he said.
Before Mennekes got involved, Hudson was working in the sugar
industry in Barbados and was devoting 20% of his time to creating
the FCT. "I wanted that to change because there are plenty of
people to work in the sugar industry," Mennekes said.
Following the tour, guests can stay for an organic lunch at the
center's Fronds restaurant. The restaurant, where meals are served
on a wide terrace overlooking organic vegetable gardens, touts
itself as "the only restaurant in Barbados where you see your meal
growing within yards of your plate." The menu is based on
vegetables that are easy to grow, without the need for fungicides
or pesticides, Hudson said. A professional chef renders them
A recent lunch menu featured iced herbal "FC tea"; a sweet blend
of starfruit and ginger juice; organic salad with steamed arugula;
flaky, white, grilled barracuda; grilled Japanese eggplant, and a
dessert of pumpkin fritters with tangelos. The suggested donation
for lunch is $11.
Regardless of what visitors may think of Hudson's beliefs and
dreams, it's hard not to be captivated by his enthusiasm and
unrelenting energy for challenging the status quo. One of the many
signposts along the paths of the site bearing quotations seems to
capture that spirit. It is a quote from Bertrand Russell that
reads, "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no
evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd."