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Jamaica Sustainable Farm Enterprise
The Source Farm Foundation hosts the annual One One Coco Organic Agriculture School every February. This year, a volunteer was requested to teach Permaculture methods to the students, who were aspiring organic growers from the area of St. Thomas Parish. The volunteer was expected to provide technical assistance in drought-resistant agricultural methods, earthworks for hillside farming, surface water management, erosion control, and low-flow irrigation systems design.
With the assistance of JSFE Program Coordinator Chuck Marsh, FAVACA recruited Jeremiah Kidd to serve in this role. Kidd is the founder of San Isidro Permaculture, a design and implementation firm operating in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has experience in implementing holistic strategies for agricultural production in places such as Africa and Southeast Asia, as well as a history of involvement with domestic organic growing projects.
In Jamaica, Kidd taught two weeks of classes at One One Coco. Apart from classroom lecture, presentations, and discussions he also facilitated daily practicum projects and two field trips: one to observe an organic agro-forestry system, and one to visit a candy factory, coconut oil production facility, and frozen juice factory. He led discussions about how farmers could develop strategies that would increase added value to their crops. The modules dealing with soil dynamics and erosion saw each student give presentations and practice real-world soil analysis (pictured above). The classes took place in February 2015, and were made up of 11 men and 3 women.
Source Farm Foundation (SFF) requested assistance for local farmers they are working with to help the farmers establish best practices for proper land preparation that meet organic standards, strengthen their ability to develop crop plans and budgets, and improve the farmers market that provides their main marketing outlet. Alex Hitt, of Peregrine Farm, Graham NC and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Farmers' Markets, Inc. was selected to provide technical assistance based on his 33 years of experience in all aspects of horticultural crop production and in teaching and training new farmers in sustainable farming techniques, and his service on the board of Directors of the 35 year old, farmer run and U.S. nationally known, Carrboro Farmers' Market for 29 years.
During his volunteer assignment from November 2-17, 2014, Alex met with 12 individual local farmers in the Plantain Garden River (PGR) Agro Park, the Rowlandsfield Community and various other locations in St. Thomas Parrish. He also conducted a training on organic farming to faculty and staff of the College of Agriculture Science and Education(CASE). On the marketing front he met with the leadership of the Jamaican Culinary Federation and evaluated the Ujima Farmer's market. During his assignment he had contact with at least 90 people. The farmers gained valuable technical support on appropriate crop and site plans and developed an increased understanding of farm design, nutrient management, crop rotation and soil preparation. The SFF gained valuable insight into how to improve the Ujima farmer's market, which should result in improved function and increased income.
Beginning in January 2015, FAVACA will be launching a three-year program focused on the development of market-driven organic agricultural production in the parish of St. Thomas, Jamaica. FAVACA seeks to collaborate with local partners to ensure multi-layered sustainable practices across food systems, businesses, institutions, and organizations.
Over the course of the initiative, FAVACA will place 70 U.S. professionals to train an estimated 2,500 individuals on various practices including water irrigation and management, distribution, and organic food systems. Based on over thirty years of experience and several development projects within Jamaica, FAVACA aims to empower local farmers in St. Thomas to address the number of environmental challenges and climate change issues that are hindering economic growth and crop production. Through increasing food security and enterprise profitability, this program will improve financial service and set the foundation for reproducible disaster-resistant agricultural environments.
The program is supported through funding provided by the U. S. Agency of International Development (USAID) Farmer-to-Farmer Program, and administered by Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA). FAVACA Executive Director Demian Pasquarelli "sees significant opportunities for impact based on previous successes through a strong local partner in the Source Farm Foundation (SFF)" which has been selected as the implementing partner for the program in Jamaica. SFF has been working for the past two years to provide training in Permaculture, organic farming, farm economics, and market development for young and beginning farmers.
Within Florida's backyard, this new initiative seeks to alleviate the obstacles that currently prevent organic agriculture success, and to strengthen ties between the United States and Jamaica.
Demian Pasquarelli, Program Manager
Nicola Shirley-Phillips, Country Project Director
Nkrumah Green, In-Country Program Coordinator
Breanne Cubrilovic, US Peace Corps volunteer
Tony Kleese, Program Coordinator
Chuck Marsh, Program Coordinator
Picture credit: Source Farm Foundation