Oracabessa, Jamaïque
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

St. Mary Peace Farm is an eco-tourist retreat and a working organic
farm in the village of Oracabessa, Jamaica which promotes community
tourism and environmental protection. The logo for our farm is our
national bird, the doctor bird, bearing an olive branch. This
symbolizes our belief that caring for the environment promotes peace.

The farm is currently replete with assorted fruits (citrus,apples,
guavas, ackee, star fruit, coconuts.), flowers, (red and pink gingers,
heliconias, yellowbirds and other tropical flowers.) There are also
cedar trees, palm trees and bamboo plants throughout the property.

Three streams run through the 22 acres with cascading bamboo trees ...

About You
Contact Information


First name


Last name


Your job title


Name of your organization

St, Mary Peace Farm and Park

Organization type

business and community development program

Annual budget/currency

Annual Budget/Currency

Mailing address

Oracabessa Post Office

Telephone number

876 588 9344

Postal/Zip Code


Email address
Alternative email address
Your idea
This will be the address used to plot your entry on the map.
Street Address

Anne Bailey Oracabessa Post Office




St. Mary

Postal/Zip Code
Geotourism Challenge Addressed by Entrant

Quality of tourist experience and educational benefit to tourists , Quality of benefit to residents for the destination , Quality of stewardship of the destination.

Organization size

Small (1 to 100 employees)

Indicate sector in which you principally work

Tourism-related business

Year innovation began


Indicate sector in which you principally work

History, Living culture, Nature, Indigenous people, Education, General tourism.

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What is the goal of your innovation? Please describe in one sentence the kind of impact, change, or reform your approach is intended to achieve.

Our goal is to promote sustainable tourism in Jamaica moving away from
all inclusive hotel type tourism to efforts that support green
initiatives and peace and stability in rural communities.

Please write an overview of your project. Include how your approach supports or embodies geotourism or destination stewardship. This text will appear when people scroll over the icon for your entry on the map located on the competition homepage.

St. Mary Peace Farm is an eco-tourist retreat and a working organic
farm in the village of Oracabessa, Jamaica which promotes community
tourism and environmental protection. The logo for our farm is our
national bird, the doctor bird, bearing an olive branch. This
symbolizes our belief that caring for the environment promotes peace.

The farm is currently replete with assorted fruits (citrus,apples,
guavas, ackee, star fruit, coconuts.), flowers, (red and pink gingers,
heliconias, yellowbirds and other tropical flowers.) There are also
cedar trees, palm trees and bamboo plants throughout the property.

Three streams run through the 22 acres with cascading bamboo trees on
either side of the streams. The farm is an organic farm as it has not
been sprayed with pesticides for over 15 years. It is designed for
tourists and locals interested in the U Pick experience in terms of
agro-tourism and eco- tourist attractions. Visitors including
tourists, schools, churches and other local and international
community organizations are invited to come and spend a day by the
streams eating catered picnic lunches and then picking a basket full
of fruits as a parting gift. Visitors are also invited to take any of
the 5 nature trails throughout the orchards and other parts of the
farm or to rent our bicycles and encircle the 22 acres at their
leisure. Nature, heritage and environment tours are also central to
this experience. It is a place that is a peaceful haven away from the
hustle and bustle of day to day life.

Community development and environmental protection feature heavily in
this development. The work of the farm and park not only involves
community members but service projects for the benefit of the
community yearly. Finally, we are working towards the protection of
the community's water resources as well as the development of solar
and/or wind energy projects as a model for the island of Jamaica.

Explain in detail why your approach is innovative

Our work at St. Mary Peace Farm and Park starts from two guiding
principles: 1) that change at its most enduring level is local and
2) caring for your environment promotes not only peace with nature but
also peace in and among various communities. We want to promote peace
in our local communities through the introduction of community tourism
in the village of Oracabessa in Jamaica.
Jamaica, though so rich in natural resources, has yet to fully join
the green movement. With our coral reefs in jeopardy, sewage
threatening some of our best beaches, high energy costs and increasing
deforestation, we need to join other countries like Costa Rica which
have already made great strides in tackling these challenges.
Individual businesses including some major hotels have attempted some
innovation in terms of greening their business, but imany of these innovations were often not part of the original conception of the entity itself.

Why help us at St. Mary Peace Farm and Park? Because we are the little
engine that could. We are a small business with big ideas and a big
vision for Jamaica. We also believe we are innovative because this kind of development also
advances Jamaican culture which we see as more than just dancehall
music and even reggae music. We embrace all of Jamaica’s culture
including aspects that have long been ignored in the Jamaican
countryside. This effort is also about Jamaicans getting to know
Jamaica so this project is as much for locals as for tourists. We
have found that many Jamaicans do not know much about other parts of
the island. This, in turn, sometimes breeds a kind of distrust. We
would like to break down some of those barriers that separate various

Finally, we feel this type of development is particularly important
in a place like Jamaica which suffers from enclave development -
development of our major cities to the exclusion of poorer rural areas.

Si perteneces a un pais de Latinoamerica y el Caribe tienes la oportunidad de presentar tu iniciativa para acceder a fondos para innovaciones en turismo sostenible del BID/FOMIN (para mayor informacion leer la seccion sobre la oportunidad BID/FOMIN en la pagina principal del Desafio).

Deseo postularme.

Si perteneces a un pais de Latinoamerica y el Caribe tienes la oportunidad de presentar tu iniciativa para acceder a fondos para innovaciones en turismo sostenible del BID/FOMIN (para mayor informacion leer la seccion sobre la oportunidad BID/FOMIN en la pagina principal del Desafio).

Consumidores (viajeros), Agentes detallistas, Grupos comunitarios autóctonos, Atractivos naturales y culturales.

Indica cuales de estas tematicas cubre tu innovacion (elige todas aquellas opciones que apliquen)

Estrategias y herramientas innovadoras para la promoción y puesta en mercado de destinos y productos en turismo sostenible y geoturismo..

Describe the degree of success you have had to date. How do you measure, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the impact on sustainability or enhancement of local culture, environment, heritage, or aesthetics? How has it transformed or contributed to the power of place or demonstrated the sustainability of tourism? How does your approach minimize negative impacts?

We have been at work for almost a year and already have received
attention from local media outlets such as TV Jamaica. A long running
program called “Hill and Gully Ride” which focuses on Jamaica’s
history, culture and rural development came to film us in the past
week. We will be the feature of an upcoming program in June. At
the same time, though we have been open only on a small scale for
sponsored events, we have received great reviews and excellent
feedback in terms of our work.

In terms of sustainability, we have turned a 22 acre piece of land
which was like a no man’s land and a garbage dump for many years into
a place of beauty. For years, this land was overgrown with bush and
unfortunately had become a dumping site for people outside the
community who had no place to dump their garbage. It was also a place
that some had used as an outdoor toilet.

Now, months after we started our work, this land is getting rave
reviews for the landscaping and for the quality of the air now that
everything has been cleaned up. The streams have also been well
tended such that the water is now running clean and clear. Local
residents when they participate in or attend our functions express
surprise and joy that this place, once a community dump, is now a
place of pride. We often overhear people making remarks like: “We
could get married here. This would be a nice place for a wedding.”
Such a thought would be unheard of barely a year ago.

This is one of the reasons that we believe that this approach is
sustainable because we have the support of the community. Instead of
working at odds with the community, we are working with them and for
them and they see themselves invested in what we are doing. This
minimizes one of the major negative impacts that many new developments
in Jamaica often face: that of the lack of community support.

In what ways are local residents actively involved in your work, including participation and community input? How has the community responded to or benefited from your approach?

Local residents not only work on the property but there are also
residents who volunteer their time to be a part of this effort. This
takes place in multiple ways. Some of our community members,
particularly the older and the younger ones, act as greeters and
resource people for our visitors. Many of these residents have offered
valuable suggestions to us regarding the development of the property
and such input has been put into effect. Other members of the
community have been involved in some of our community wide efforts
such as repairing the road that runs through our community called Corn
Hill Road.

Just last February, we donated cement and sand and those we were able contributed their labor. In this way, we were able to show the authorities in question that we
have every intention to help ourselves but also need some assistance.
To date, they have been listening and we understand that plans are now
underway to help us get a new road and improve our water service at
the same time.

Since this road has not been repaired in decades, community members
are very excited about the prospect of this improvement and have
pledged to help in any way they can.

How does your program promote traveler enthusiasm, satisfaction, and engagement with the locale?

One of the main complaints that some visitors have when they visit
Jamaica is that they have little interaction with Jamaicans. If they
stay at one of the many all- inclusive hotels, for example, they may
only interface with the occasional waiter or house staff on a regular

Travelers also often complain that they do not see much of Jamaica
beyond their hotel. Sometimes, there are issues of safety but more
often, they are not accorded opportunities for more natural
interactions with the Jamaican people.

What we offer here at St. Mary Peace Farm and Park is an opportunity
for travelers to experience more of Jamaica and more of the Jamaican
people in their own environments.

We offer travelers an opportunity to experience the beautiful
Jamaican countryside with its undulating hills and valleys,
diversified fauna and flora and streams and rivers of unique strength
and beauty. All this and the opportunity to interact with community hosts.

Describe how your work helps travelers and local residents better understand the value of the area's cultural and natural heritage, and educates them on local environmental issues.

Since we are promoting rural community tourism, we are naturally
promoting the heritage, culture and environment of this rural area.
Places like Oracabessa which, in spite of its accessibility, are off
the beaten track are often overlooked in official history books as
well as guide books. Since we feature the best that this area has
to offer in our tours, we are educating the general public about this
locale. Finally, as a teacher and historian with more than fifteen
years experience teaching at US institutions including Bryn Mawr
College, Rutgers University, Harvard University and Binghamton
University, I am in a unique position to give fun and educational
tours from a wide perspective.

How is your initiative currently financed? If available, provide information on your finances and organization that could help others. Please list: Annual budget, annual revenue generated, size of part-time, full-time and volunteer staff.

Our initiative is currently financed by working capital of the
principal investor/ owner, Anne Bailey as well as the proceeds of the
farm. Our annual budget is currently $40,000 (US.). We are a small
team of 4 including the Director, a caretaker/tour guide and two farm
workers. Depending on the activity, we have anywhere from 10-50
volunteers available to us throughout the year.

Is your initiative financially and organizationally sustainable? If not, what is required to make it so? Is there a potential demand for your innovation?

We are in the early stages of development but do envision that this
entity will be financially sustainable. We have been very prudent
with our finances -- making them stretch at every turn without
compromising quality and service. At present, having prepared one
quarter of the land for visitors, we are aggressively marketing our
effort and from this expect to bear good fruit.

We expect to have not only visitors from Jamaica’s cities but also
tourists from cruise ships and hotels on the island. We are ideally
located because of the fact that we are only fifteen minutes away from
Ocho Rios, one of the premier tourist locations in the Caribbean.
During the tourist season, a large number of cruise ships grace our
shores weekly and there are many more hotels that cater to land based

We are also doing a special outreach to schools, churches, scouts and
other community organizations for their events. All these efforts should sustain us

What are the main barriers you encounter in managing, implementing, or replicating your innovation? What barriers keep your program from having greater impact?

Our main barrier at present is financial. We see the potential and
have received positive feedback for our efforts so far but we are not
able to expand our efforts without adequate resources.

What we need now is increased capital to develop the entire 22 acre
property. Currently, we have landscaped and cleared one quarter of
the land but see much more potential when increased funding is
available. We will be able to also attempt some long term projects
such as river bank protection, reforestation and wind and solar energy
projects. Given that there relatively few models in Jamaica of solar
and wind energy in operation, we would like to be a prototype for what
may be possible on a larger scale in the future.

Finally, with increased funding, we will also be able to do more
community workshops including workshops that help unemployed community
members to develop businesses that will feed into our core business.
For example, we already have in mind micro agro processing businesses
such as organic perfume manufacture from our flowers and bamboo
furniture and flooring production from our many bamboo plants. We
envision community members being involved in these enterprises on our
property for their own benefit while also being a part of our regular
tours. They will show visitors how to cut, cure and treat bamboo as
well as how to make organic perfumes from our flowers-- all this while
engaging in a fruitful business for themselves and their families.

What is your plan to expand or further develop your approach? Please indicate where/how you would like to grow or enhance your innovation, or have others do so.

According to the Overseas Security Advisory Council’s report on
Jamaica’s Crime and Safety (2007):
"In 2007, Jamaica saw yet another substantial rise in murders (18%),
shootings (14%), and break-ins (11%) when compared to 2006. By the end
of 2007, the total murder count was a staggering 1,574, versus 1,340
in 2006." Most of these crimes took place in Jamaic’s teeming inner

In light of these statistics, as our theme states, we aim to bring
peace to Jamaica, one village at a time. We want to lure people away
from the overcrowded cities to opportunities in the rural countryside
that are sustainable.

We want to be a model that others may follow and alter according to
their needs. Every village has its own particular needs so in each
area, a needs assessment must be undertaken, but we believe that the
general principle of reviving our farms and making them the center of
attention for tourists and locals alike will be a model worth

The Story
What is the origin of your innovation? Tell the Changemakers and media communities what prompted you to start this initiative.

As a writer and professor of history, I was profoundly influenced not
only by the books that I taught about contemporary Caribbean history
and culture like A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid but also by a film
called “Life and Debt.” (2001)
Each year, I would show this film which is about the impact of
globalization on the island of Jamaica to my students, and each year
,I watched how transformed they were by the issues raised in the film.
There were several key points that stayed with me and led me to my
current effort: 1) that the markets for developing nations like
Jamaica had greatly shrunk since independence; 2) that there was now
a growing dependence on foreign imports to the point that we do not
feed ourselves as a nation and 3) our environment was suffering
because of relative lax regulations regarding sewage, deforestation
and the like especially in the face of big industry.

What struck me about this film and what I knew of Jamaica myself was
not so much that it romanticized the past but that there were some
things in the past that were worth restoring. At the top of that list
was this idea of feeding ourselves. More self reliance and more
development of our rural communities are in order. Was it any
coincidence, I wondered , that when more of our rural lands were
developed with farms of every kind and nature, there was more peace in
our land? There were less stories of violence in overcrowded cities
that now dominates our news.

The Jamaica of yesteryear with more well developed rural communities
was, in short, a more peaceful place. It was a place with houses
without bars on every window. It was a place where neighbors knew one
another and relied more on each other than on the police or other

It seemed to me that as simple as this was it could be again. The
farming sector on the local level could be revived --one farm at a
time. We would choose organic farming as a new and growing niche
market which would give us a chance at being successful and
competitive. Organic farming is, after all, now a billion dollar
industry. We would also add the component of tourism since this is
already a strong sector in Jamaican life.

In this case, we would advocate community tourism because of the fact
that it incorporates rather than alienates communities and thus is

Perhaps, we thought, we could bring back a bit of that peace that
Jamaica was once known for by making agriculture on the rural level
popular and important again and contributing to the stability and
advancement of communities - one community at a time.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers' marketing material.

I am a scholar/activist and social historian who has dedicated many
years to the study of African History, Caribbean History, African
American history and African Diaspora Studies. My research has
previously centered on the history of the Atlantic slave trade and its
impact on Africa and its worldwide diaspora. My books include African
Voices of the Atlantic Slave Trade: Beyond the Silence and the Shame (
Beacon Press, 2005), which looks at memories of the slave trade from
the African perspective, and two works of historical fiction for
children. In 2003, I received a Fulbright grant . Otherwise, I spent several years running an NGO in New York City that provided scholarships for gifted Black and Hispanic
students. Throughout, I have sought to connect my academic experiences
with my work with underserved communities.

Born in Jamaica, my work has also been informed by extended stays in
Paris, London, West Africa and the Caribbean. (

Describe some unique tourist experiences that your approach provides. Be specific; give illustrative examples.


Visitors who come to St. Mary Peace Farm experience the quiet
countryside of Roslyn Pen, Oracabessa, where you hear only the water
from the springs flowing or the bamboo trees crackling in the wind.
They may picnic by one of our three streams and may decide to take a
tour of our the property. If they take the Heritage and Environment
tour, for example, they will learn about Jamaica’s heritage and our
commitment to protecting the environment. They learn about the
environment in a hands on way since as we talk about riverbed
protection we are walking along our streams or as we talk about bamboo
being a better alternative to wood we are showing them our majestic
bamboo plants as well as our bamboo tables and benches throughout the
property. They may also learn more on this tour about organic
farming from the tour guide as well as from local farmers and
community greeters who have been trained in our free workshops.

While on property, they are invited to pick some fruits including
apples and oranges as well as some of our tropical flowers. These
will be their parting gifts when they depart. At the end of our
tours, visitors also will be given the opportunity to plant a tree on
the property in the area we were are engaged in reforestation.

Finally, guests may also choose to buy one of our colorful wooden
birdhouses for sale designed by a local artist which attract many
wonderful birds to our property and are unique gift items to take

What types of partnerships or professional development would be most beneficial in spreading your innovation?

We have interacted already with several key organizations and look
forward to other fruitful linkages.

-CASE, The College of Agriculture, Science and Education, Jamaica
-The Environmental Foundation of Jamaica
-University of West Indies, Cardiff Agricultural Research Institute
-JOAM, Jamaica Organic Agriculture Movement
-Authentic Caribbean Holidays
-JAMPRO - Jamaica Trade and Invest Corporation

We already have linkages with the institutions above. We hope to
forge contacts with other international organizations such as the
International Institute for Peace through Tourism.
( )