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Jeffrey Town cops self-reliance award

Published:Wednesday | August 3, 2011 | 12:00 AM

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

JEFFREY TOWN Farmers Association of western St Mary was on Monday recognised for its strides in self-reliance, winning the Michael Manley Award for Community Self-Reliance at the Little Theatre in St Andrew.

The community organisation, which won the title in 2006, triumphed over 12 other groups contending for the award.

Winnifred Beach of Portland, Hampstead of St Mary and Dallas Castle of St Andrew, were the communities shortlisted alongside Jeffrey Town for the $200,000 cash prize and winner's trophy.

Winnifred, which won the award for environmental sustainability, is dedicated to the protection and sustainable development of the Winnifred Beach in Portland. In Dallas, community members have formed a co-operative, and are engaged in making products such as tomato pepper jams. The Hampstead group has succeeded in supplying residents of the St Mary community with potable water, which was once foreign to that area.

Horace Levy, who read the judges report, said the self-reliance projects being undertaken in Jeffrey Town represents a "multifaceted approach to local community development."

Returning residents to Jeffrey Town in 1991, after observing the demise of crops such as banana, cocoa, coffee and citrus, set about establishing a co-operative in the community. And although the venture did not succeed, the community would later organise themselves to take on other ventures.

The community members, some of whom were trained at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communications, volunteered to work on the radio stations. Internet service is provided for the community at hot spots.

The multi-purpose centre, which houses the radio station is powered by solar panels and a wind turbine, thereby reducing the energy cost to the community. There is also a community plot where animal droppings are collected for manure and leaves gathered for compost.

Innovative approach

Levy said the branch off into technology represents "an innovative approach to attracting youth participation."

He also said the movement towards organic farming is "a step that could bring Jamaica's agriculture into an area for which there is a growing market."

Wordsworth Gordon, president of the association, told The Gleaner that his community stands firmly in the corner of self-help.

"We strongly believe that we have to depend on ourselves. We have to use our own ingenuity to make our community better,"

"We have done many, many things in the community such as bringing water to our community, soil erosion, best practice in agriculture, a multi-media centre and community radio station," he said of self-reliance projects undertaken by the community.

"Winning inspires me. No disrespect to any other prime minister, but Michael Manley was my inspiration, and I totally believe in the idea of self reliance," Gordon said.