Q & A

Jamaica Questions

 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

Community Kitchen

Water tanks

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 anomi10@hotmail.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).