Tony and Chuck Marsh are collaborating with Nicola Shirley-Phillips and Nkrumah Green of the Source Farm Foundation and Demian Pasquarelli of the Florida Association for Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and Americas to manage a 3.5-year project to help Jamaica develop a local and organic food system. The project started in October 2014 and is funded by the USAID Farmer to Farmer program and Jimmy Buffett's Singing for Change Foundation. Tony and Chuck will be coordinating 20 volunteers each year to provide technical support for developing the system. The project focuses on:
Your Caribbean adventure can be realized. There are many ways to get involved. If you are passionate about making a difference in the region and have a vision of how you can help, contact Tony.
My Caribbean Adventure started with my honeymoon in 1998 in St John in the US Virgin Islands. Three quarters of the island is National Park, and my wife and I fell in love with the natural beauty of the tropical terrestrial and aquatic landscape. We also appreciated that the ecological tourism approach appeared to be good for both the people and the environment. We stayed at the world's first Eco-resort called Maho Bay, now Concordia and have been back several times for vacation.
In 2006, Jim Smith, an early organic advocate in the Carolinas and Caribbean, told me about a country in the region called Dominica that was seeking to transition the island's agriculture to organic systems. Organic advocates and stakeholders on the island researched and published a document entitled "Transitioning Dominica into an Organic Island". A proposal to evaluate the situation, which was funded by Jimmy Buffett's Singing for Change Foundation in 2008, generated a report that indicated the need for additional funding support for the fledgling organic organization, Dominica Organic Agriculture Movement (DOAM). I worked with DOAM to develop several funded projects over 4 years until the organization collapsed in late 2013 due to a lack of on-island leadership and funding.
During my work with DOAM I not only learned some solid lessons about working in the Caribbean, but also developed a great partnership with the Florida Association of Volunteer Action in the Caribbean and the Americas (FAVACA). The organization manages projects that coordinate volunteer technical support in the region and was the fiscal agent for much of the funding that DOAM received. With FAVACA's help, I was able to facilitate using some USAID Farmer to Farmer program money to bring permaculture guru Chuck Marsh to Dominica in 2012. In 2013 he used the same program to bring me to Jamaica to do some trainings and expose me to all the good things happening to develop a local and organic food system on the island. Strategy sessions with FAVACA and Nicola Shirley-Phillips of the Source Farm Foundation in Jamaica yielded a solid Farmer to Farmer proposal that was funded by USAID in September 2014.
Many of us greatly appreciate the opportunity to enjoy a good cup of coffee, a fine piece of chocolate, or a refreshing coconut water, which indicates that the Caribbean should be included in a southeastern food system . Tony says' " it is our responsibility to attempt to correct the economic chaos our government policies and WTO rulings have created in the region. We have been successful in developing local and organic food systems in the southeastern US, and our technical support and market demand can be the foundation for this correction. Our experiences can help them progress more quickly to a local and organic food system in their countries and region and we can support them by providing technical support and investment now and solid markets when they are ready to export."
Pictured: Jamaica College of Agriculture Science and Education (CASE) students and faculty along with JSFEP staff and volunteers at the organic farm site on campus in Port Antonioin November, 2014