The Source Farm Foundation and Ecovillage was established in 2005 to facilitate the need of Jamaicans in the diaspora to return home, and to create a place of ecological stewardship and care.
Blondel Shirley-Atawater, the founder of The Source Farm, left Jamaica in the 1980’s in search of a greater opportunity and education for her 3 children.
After many years of work, learning and a myriad of life experiences Blondel felt that it was time to return home and get back to the Source of what had sustained her and her family.
She was afforded the opportunity to create the Source Farm Foundation and Ecovillage in pursuit of her dreams to heal, teach, live, learn, and love.
Since 2005, the Source has evolved into a dynamic innovative model community demonstrating; sustainable living, organic and natural farming, community development initiatives and a variety of approaches to assist in improving personal and interpersonal relationships.
We invite you to join us at The Source.
The Source is a multi-cultural, intergenerational, intentional eco-village. We have a commitment to:
- Natural living
- Holistic Health & Spirituality
- Ecological & Social Stewardship
- Educational Sharing (Learning & Teaching)
- Organic Farming & Gardening
- Arts & Culture
The Source Foundation creates a healing retreat for residents and guests and a spiritual sanctuary to experience serenity and tranquility.
The Source will be an innovative model community that is dedicated to respecting and restoring Mother Earth. We will foster personal growth, personal development and empower our community to be ambassadors of natural and progressive living. The Source will be known for its diverse social and economic opportunities with a mosaic of award-winning cultural, recreational and artistic amenities and services.
The Source Farm Ecovillage Guidelines
1) Natural living
- To be deeply connected to the place in which we live, learning its boundaries, strengths, weaknesses and rhythms, and living in synchrony and harmony within the ecology of which we are a part.
- We will create and design structures and gathering places to blend with and complement the natural environment, using natural, bioregional and ecologically sound (renewable, non-toxic, recycled) materials and methods of construction, to the extent possible.
- To use renewable, non-toxic energy sources to heat and power The Source Village, to the extent possible. To research, test and demonstrate innovative technologies that are ethical and support natural systems.
- To create a way of life that contributes to a peaceful, loving, sustainable world
2) Holistic Health & Spirituality
- We will be a non-secular community, yet acknowledge the higher power in all things.
- We will develop options for restoring, maintaining or improving health (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual), including natural remedies and alternative health practices.
- We will respect the many ways of spirituality and support a variety of opportunities for development of the inner self.
- We will foster a sense of joy, belonging, fun and mystery through ceremonies and celebrations
- We will acknowledge the interconnectedness and interdependence of all the elements of life on Earth
3) Ecological Stewardship and Permculture
- To respect Natural life, its systems and processes - preserving wildlife and botanical habitat, and creating a life-style that regenerates, rather than diminishing the integrity of THE SOURCE environment.
- We will maintain an ecologically sound and economically prosperous stewardship of the land utilizing the techniques and principles of permaculture.
- To use and/or dispose of human waste and waste water, to the benefit of the environment and community
- We will use Permaculture design principles in the planning and building of The Source Ecovillage
- To practice conservation in transportation systems and methods.
- To minimize consumption and generation of waste and while respecting individual needs.
- To establish a clean, renewable water supply - respecting, protecting and conserving it.
- We will live with respect for the land and one another.
4) Organic Farming & Gardening
- To choose food that comes primarily from THE SOURCE itself, or other local and bioregional sources, that is organic, varied and provides nutritional balance, to the extent possible.
- We will work to maintain our own personal gardens as a contribution to our food needs.
- We will use Non-GMO seeds.
- No pesticides or other chemical or un-natural growth enhancers.
- We will work cooperative to maintain THE SOURCE Farm and common areas.
5) Arts & Culture
- To nurture The Source Ecovillage's vitality through artistic and other cultural activities and celebrations.
- To value creativity and the arts as an expression of unity and interrelationship to our universe, and encourage and support various forms of artistic expression and artful living.
- To preserve and enjoy beauty and cultivate aesthetic values.
- We will value visual and healing arts and work to bring beauty to our community to improve our quality of life and lifestyle.
- To develop a flow of resources - giving and receiving of funds, goods and services - that is balanced to meet The Source Ecovillage's needs and wishes, and sharing surpluses.
- We will contribute ideas, talents, energies and finances to achieve community goals.
- We will create business enterprises to assure economic viability and minimum dependence on institutional structures and market systems.
- We will build self-sustaining infrastructures to meet our basic needs
- To value and nurture personal growth, learning and creativity, developing opportunities for teaching and learning of all age groups in a variety of forms.
- We will establish educational, leadership, internship, and exchange programs that will enable us to be of service to others, communicate and share our experiences, and link with similar local and global efforts.
- We will establish elementary, secondary (High School)
- We establish and educational grant for all Children of The Source to continue their education at the University Level.
8) Social stewardship
- To co-create a sense of social stability and dynamism, with a foundation of safety and trust that enables members to freely express themselves to the benefit of all.
- To co-create spaces and systems that support and maximize communication, healthy relationships and productivity within THE SOURCE and with the surrounding community.
- To share talents, skills and other resources within The Source Village, and outside to serve the greater good, as possible.
- To honor diversity as a source of health, vitality and creativity in the natural environment and in community relations, fostering - acceptance, inclusively and transparency to reap the benefits of diversity.
- We will create a safer and more loving environment in which to raise children and will work to ensure that children will be supported in every way in the community
- We will connect with and serve the local community through workshops, employment opportunities, and business relationships.
- To create opportunities and use technologies that enhances communication within The Source Ecovillage, and with the world wide community.
- To avoid using technologies that will harm or endanger the Source Ecovillage and the earth.
- We will use scared technologies to enhance our understanding of our environment and assist us in healthy living.
11) Code of Ethics
- We will consider each person to be an individual member including those in a coupled relationship and children.
- We will deal directly, openly, and honestly with each other.
- We will seek to work, learn, and teach other.
- We will each have equal decision making rights.
- We will build consensus/consent among members as a means of collective decision making.
- We will be open and respectful of feedback and criticism and when conflict arises, resolve it immediately and peacefully, seeking mediation if necessary.
- We will agree that violence and abuse whether physical or emotional, have no place in the community.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. If I leave, do I get my Membership Fee or Site Lease Fee back? The Membership Fee and Site Lease Fee are non-refundable. However, The Source may choose to buy back your Site Lease, but only if the community can afford it. The Source would not buy back a Site Lease in one lump sum, but over time, in payments. Please note, The Source Farm Foundation is not obligated to buy back anyone’s Site Lease, but may choose to do so. You have the right to sell your Site Lease (and the improvements on your homesite) to an approved incoming Full Member with Council approval.
2. Does it cost less to live at The Source? Living at The Source can be both less and more expensive than living in mainstream culture. While the up-front costs may be more, ongoing livings costs may be less. Depending on the size of home you build and the materials used, it can cost more up front because bank loans aren't available and people need to use existing funds or personal loans. Many homes here are relatively small for this reason. In general, professionally built houses at The Source have cost less per square foot than conventional homes of similar quality due to using Natural Building methods such as Earthbag/Super Abobe or other natural building methods. In addition to providing for water and waste treatment, site holders need to set up their own energy infrastructure (off-grid electric windpower, propane gas, etc.). This usually entails one-time costs for photovoltaic panels, batteries, an inverter, professional services, etc., which can be expensive.
Building a very small home without electric power is one way to save money. If you choose to go in with others to build a multi-family residence, it can cost less per household. The Source homes must meet building codes; parish council building inspectors have been supportive of our using natural building materials and methods as long as we demonstrate that the buildings meets requirements for strength and safety. Once people live here, monthly expenses tend to be lower than elsewhere (but this doesn't include the cost of commuting if they work off-site
3. Do Source members own title to their sites? All Full Residential Members own all The Source property in common through The Source Farm Foundation Land Trust. Members lease sites through 59-year renewable, transferable lot Leases with the Source Farm Foundation Land Trust.
4. Do you have to purchase a Site Lease, or can you rent? From time to time there are rental units available such as the Gate house. However, rentals only last a maximum of one year.
5. Can more than one member own a site together? Up to four adults can share a full site.
6. What fees are required for children? A member’s child under 18 may live with the member without paying dues, a membership fee, or a site fee. At age 18, the child is eligible to go through the membership process. Dues, fees and community service requirements begin to apply at age 18.
7. At what point is the membership fee required? The membership fee is required after the Council agrees for full membership for the applying person.
8. At what point do new members pay the Residential Lot Lease Fee? Members pay the Residential Lot Lease Fee within 30 days after they have been confirmed as a Full Member (unless they have an approved payment plan). A new Full Member doesn’t have to choose a site immediately, but can take several months to get to know and understand the community.
9. What are new full members paying for when they join? They get co-ownership and enjoyment of the whole property and the right to help determine its future; the right to develop and build on their own home or business site; their share of all physical labor and materials costs to develop roads, bridges, and community buildings; and their share of all the years of administrative and social/cultural work of creating an intentional community.
About The Source's Financial Structure:
10. Does The Source have outstanding debt? The land was completely paid off in 2007. The Shirley Family will be paid off for the land in a scheduled payment arrangement over a 5 year period or as soon as lots are leased.
11. What are The Source's expenses? Annual Operating Expenses: Property taxes; insurance; repair and maintenance of community buildings, roads, bridges, equipment; promotions; administrative costs of committees (such as office equipment and supplies, printing, photocopies, postage, food for workers in work parties, and any paid services); and legal and accounting services. One-time Expenses (Capital Expenditures):Clearing land; building new buildings, roads, bridges, power systems; improving/remodeling old ones; buying new equipment; repaying the Shirley Family for purchasing the land.
12. What are The Source Farm Foundation’s sources of income? Non-recurring income sources are new members’ membership fees and Lot Lease Fees. Recurring annual income comes from monthly dues and fees from non-member residents; all members’ annual dues and fees; fees from special events; agricultural lease fees; apiary lease fees, sewing cooperative lease fees, workshops; and grants and donations.
13. What did the property cost? We paid approximately $150,000.00 US total for our 63 acres, including interest.
14. If The Source disbanded as a community, would the property be sold and the profits divvied up equally between all members? The Land Use and Common Rights Agreement of The Source Farm Foundation Land Trust requires that if we disbanded as a community and sold the property we'd set aside 10% of the proceeds to go to a new ecovillage effort. The portion of the sale income derived from the land value would be divided among all site holders according to fractional ratios of their site holdings and the amount they originally paid as Site Lease Fees. All the rest of the proceeds, from the value of common buildings, equipment, and other assets, would be divided equally among the members.
15. How are Site Lease Fees determined? Fees were determined by an estimate of the expected total capital costs for property ownership and development vs. total capital income. More specifically, it's a kind of artful guess about the following factors: the property's actual purchase cost, including principal and interest; the cost of materials for developing our physical infrastructure (community buildings, roads, agricultural clearing); the cost of labor we have to hire for infrastructure development; and the potential for receiving Membership Fees and Lot Lease Fees from our total future number of members. The Finance committee can propose changes in the amount of the fees every year, which Council can adopt, amend, or reject.
16. Where will The Source get revenue once it has leased all residential and business sites and has all of its planned members? Future revenue will be from annual dues and fees; grants and donations; income from visitors and students; special assessments; and other sources.
17. What kind of legal entity does The Source use to own its property and assets? The Source Farm Foundation Land Trust is a nonprofit corporation. The members lease a lot or site and the lease is then legally attached to the Land Title. This will ensure that the member lease takes precedence over any sale if the land ever was put in the position to be sold.
18. Who keeps track of all this? The Finance Committee and other agents of council keep track of all this. All Source members (including Applying Members and Friends of the Source) are welcome to attend committee and council meetings.
Q & A
Where is the Source Farm located?
The Source Farm is located in Retreat, St. Thomas, the most Eastern Parish in Jamaica. Before Columbus, it was heavily populated by Taino (Native People of Jamaica). St. Thomas was the first place that Columbus made land fall and one of the first Spanish settlements. The Source is technically located in Retreat, but we consider ourselves a part of the Johns Town Community. The Source overlooks the Caribbean Sea and most of Morant Bay, the capital city of St. Thomas.
How far is Johnstown from Morant Bay?
A 15 minute taxi ride How far is Johnstown from Kingston?
45 min to an hour by car or bus
What is Morant Bay like?
Morant Bay is the capital city of St. Thomas. It is historic because of Paul Bogle and William Gordon, two national heroes. Morant Bay overlooks a beautiful bay and most of the city sits on a hill. There are three main streets to the city. Queen Street is the main street with all the major banks, post office, library, internet café, cambio, vegetable market, pharmacy and general stores. The supermarkets and hardware stores are located on the side streets. It is a crowded and busy town, with many vendors selling food and goods on the sidewalks as well.
What are the transportation options?
ST. Thomas regional bus Kingston to Morant Bay $280.00 JA
Unlicensed Taxi Kingston to Morant Bay $300.00 JA each way
Chartered Taxi Kingston to Morant Bay $5000.00 - $7000.00 JA round trip
Taxi from Johns Town to Morant Bay $100.00 each way ($150 JA to the Source gate)
What do I need to know to successfully navigate transportation?
Only travel in marked legal taxis and check the price before you enter the vehicle. Get to know the Johns Town Taxi Drivers, and only travel with drivers who take care on the road. The Johns Town Taxi stand in Morant Bay is located across the street from the Morant Bay Market. The Johns Town Taxi Stand is at the Town Watch Sign in Johns Town Proper.
Where do I buy food?
Johns Town has many small shops mostly selling the same items (soda, phone cards, canned items) Morant Bay has a vegetable and meat market, a number of supermarkets, patty shops, and a few fast food chains.
Is the local water safe to drink?
The water in Jamaica is potable (drinkable). However, we at the Source collect rain water and filter for drinking. Running water is provided by the Jamaica Water Commission. The water is often shut off for various reasons especially after hurricanes or tropical storms. We believe in water conservation and encourage you to follow suit.
What are some cultural differences that I need to know?
The majority of Jamaica is made up of people of African descent. There are also some people of European, Asian, and Indian decent. Many foreigners experience culture shock at first, as the language and socio-economic conditions are considerably different from most highly industrialised countries. Simply treat people how you would like to be treated and remember that you are a visitor to Jamaica choosing to join us in our culture. There are many cultural differences, but common ground can always be found, and all of our work exchangers have adjusted to the area and integrated with the community. Working at The Source will give you a glimpse into another reality and be a valuable learning experience.
What’s the social life like?
The social life at The Source is currently what you make it. In addition to the 10 to 15 people usually living on the farm, we have a few local people who work or teach here. They will be happy to show you around and help you integrate more into the Johns Town community. The people of Johns Town are friendly and can always be found socializing with each other on their front porches and on the street. Currently our social life is filled with workshops, group dinners, music, art, field trips and spiritual gatherings.
Will I be able to understand the local Jamaicans?
English is the official language in Jamaica. English is taught in school and all business is done in English. Jamaica is known for it’s distinct Patois—a combination of English, African and other influences. The further you get from Kingston, the stronger the accent and the more patois there is. Jamaicans are very patient and will spend time with you making sure you understand what they are saying. If you do not understand, simply ask people to repeat what they are saying more slowly.
Source Farm Questions
What is the Source Farm like?
The Ecovillage entered its planning stage in 1999. The land was purchased by the Shirley Family in 2005. Currently, Nicola Phillips, Blondel & Russell Atwater, Dwight & Nomi Shirley and their three children, and Julia Porter live at The Source full-time. Their role is to establish good community relations, develop infrastructure and pave the way for the rest of our members. There are a number of buildings on the property, and we are working on creating additional housing for visitors and work exchangers. The buildings that we currently have include residential, work and educational spaces. The terrain includes many trails through greenland, farmland, hiking trails and unpaved roads. The Source also has a tropical spring that originates on the property.
How much food is being grown on the farm?
Currently we have over 400 coconut trees and a number of fruit trees that include Avocado, Lime, Bananna, Pineapple, Ackee, Mango, June Plum, Guava, Pomagranate and Jamaican Apple. Our vegetable crops vary seasonally and include Bok Choy, Broccoli, Tomato, Calloloo, Sweet Potato, Yam, Dasheen, Scallion, Lettuce, Sweet and Hot Peppers, Sorrel, Butternut Squash, Beans, Chards, Lemon Grass and numerous spices. We are also working with our local farmers to expand our vegetable growing operation to become more self-sufficient. We hope that you will assist us in attaining that goal as a work exchanger.
How big is the property?
The Property sits on 63 acres
What infrastructure is already built?
1 Gate House Residence with storage and bathroom
1 Earthbag Cabin - one bedroom house (Timeshare for Source Farm Members)
2 Residential Earthbag Houses
1 Monolithic Dome House
1 Residential Block and Steel House
1 Steel Span Wood Shop
1 Craft Studio/Living Space
1 Steel Span School Structure
1 Earthbag Building for Sewing Cooperative
1 Farm Shed
River Stone Terraced Gardens
1 Healing Center Dome Structure
1 Office with Storage
How many people are living at the Source?
We have 13 permanent residents as of September 2014. The number of people onsite varies from 13 to 20 people living, working, and visiting. At full capacity the Source hopes to have 50 adults on site.
Where will I be sleeping?
The earthbag cabin is available for rent, but most often work exchangers opt to sleep in tents. For large groups there is a house available for rent close to the property and there are also small hotels a short cab ride away.
What are the cell phone options?
The Source Farm has 1 Cell Phone to rent for $25.00 US per month. Your unlocked cell phone might work here with a digicel prepaid chip which is easily available.
What are the internet access options?
Internet access is available for a small fee. Also there is an internet café and internet access at the library in Morant Bay.
How often and when does the Source community come together as a group?
The Source Farm members have a monthly resident meeting and larger group meetings via conference call, and smaller groups meet more often on specialized issues. People living at The Source come together for a general meeting once a week, and have potluck dinners at least twice per month.
How will the finances be managed?
Nomi Shirley is the current Treasurer of the Source Farm Foundation & Ecovillage. She lives onsite and can be contacted at email@example.com. All major financial arrangements go through her. Work Exchangers and visitors must either pay their fees through paypal via the website, by check made out to Source Farm Foundation or in cash upon arrival at The Source Farm.
How integrated is the Source Farm community with the people of Johnstown?
One of The Source’s missions is to assist with the economic and social development of the Johns Town community. There are a number of community projects The Source is working on in partnership with the community, such as The Summer Literacy Project (Teach & Beach), The Johns Town Women’s Craft Cooperative, Youth Arts and Craft Project, and several arts and crafts workshops for the community and parish of St. Thomas. Our next project will be the Johns Town CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture).