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Source Farm Ecovillage in Jamaica Recovers from Hurricane Sandy

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By Diana Leafe Christian

Nicola Shirley and her husband Chaz Phillips.

(December, 2012) Source Farm Ecovillage in Jamaica was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Fortunately no one was hurt, although the community did have serious damage to buildings. They’ve received donations from friends and well-wishers internationally, and as of the end of December, 2012, have raised $1,1213 and may receive another $500 check soon. They’ve begun repairing the shade house, compost toilet, nature school building, water tanks, and community sewing building. The community kitchen structure was destroyed completely by a falling tree and still needs repair.

Nomi Shirley, married to Dwight Shirley, working on an earthbag building.

Source Farm Ecovillage was founded by the Shirley family, Jamaican immigrants to the US in the 1990s. They returned to Jamaica five years ago — their Source — to create a Permaculture-based ecovillage and educational center. Teachers and community activists, they and other ecovillage members operate a remedial educational program for at-risk local school children, a women’s crafts and sewing collective with local Jamaican women, and teach Permaculture and earthbag building to friends and neighbors and people from the US.

Dwight Shirley (far right).

My friend Nicola Shirley (in first photo, above) is a wonderful get-the-job-done manager who founded and ran the successful Jerk Hut Restaurant and Community Center in Philadelphia, where her family moved when she and her siblings were children. All three of the Shirley family siblings — Nicola, Dwight, & Keisha — grew up and went to high school in Philadelphia.

Blondell Shirley Atwater, founder of Source Farm, and her grandaughter.

Various other friends from Philadelphia, other parts of the US, and Jamaica have joined Source Farm or visit regularly. Chuck Marsh, a founder of my own ecovillage (Earthaven in North Carolina, US) and a Permaculture teacher and ecovillage site plan designer, has visited Source Farm several times, teaching Permaculture and helping them create their Site Plan. Other friends affiliated with Earthaven have taught natural building courses at Source Farm.

Upside-down building!
I really like Source Farm because the Shirley family and their friends began “giving back” to their neighbors soon after they returned to their Jamaican homeland — teaching people how to build their own earthbag homes, organizing the sewing and craft co-op, teaching local school children additional subjects and bringing teachers from the US to help, and their latest “One, One Coco” project, teaching young people organic farming. They didn’t just create a beautiful Permaculture-based, organic-food-raising ecovillage for themselves, but began contributing to the wider culture in their county as soon as they moved there.

The hurricane uprooted trees.

Please send good wishes for Source Farm’s post-hurricane repair efforts, and if you like, donations for their ongoing repair work. They are still seeking $2500 to finish all the repairs and especially the community kitchen, so if you feel moved to do so, please donate to this effort. There are two ways to donate:

Roof blown off.

(1)Via PayPal on their website: http/ww.thesourcefarm.com/blog/hurricane-sandy-cleaup-help-needed NOTE: For some reason their website for PayPal doesn’t work with all computers, so one can also:

Mopping up.

(2) Mail a check to Source Farms Foundation, c/o Denise Jones, 1339 Source Melville Street, Philadelphia, PA 19143.

Thank you very much!

Diana Leafe Christian is author of the books Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillages and Intentional Communities and Finding Community: How to Join an Ecovillage or Intentional Community, and editor and publisher of this newsletter. She lives at Earthaven Ecovillage in North Carolina, US.

(Please see online video about Source Farm’s young farmer project, “One, One Coco.”)

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Mission & Purpose

To encourage and inspire new and existing ecovillage projects with news about ecovillages and related projects worldwide.

Advisory Board

  • Lois Arkin,
    CRSP; ENA; Urban Ecovillage Network; Los Angeles Eco-Village, US
  • Peter Bane,
    Permaculture designer; publisher, Permaculture Activist, US
  • Albert Bates,
    Co-founder, GEN; Post-Petroleum Survival Guide; Director, Ecovillage Training Center at The Farm, US
  • Tree Bressen,
    Consensus & Facilitation Trainer; Cofounder, Walnut St. Co-op, US
  • Ernest Callenbach,
    Ecotopia, Ecotopia Emerging; US
  • Giovanni Ciarlo,
    GEN; ENA; Huehyecoyotl Ecovillage, Mexico
  • Raines Cohen,
    Cohousing Association of the US; Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC); Berkeley Cohousing, US
  • Leila Dregger,
    Peace journalist & writer, Peace Research Center & Ecovillage, Tamera, Portugal
  • Chuck Durrett,
    Cohousing; Senior Cohousing; Architect, The Cohousing Company; Nevada City Cohousing, US
  • Jonathan Dawson,
    Ecovillages; Findhorn Foundation, Scotland
  • Robert Gilman,
    Co-founder, GEN; Ecovillages & Sustainable Communities; City Council Member, Langley, Washington, US
  • Michael Hale,
    Yarrow Ecovillage, Canada
  • Jeff Grossberg,
    Guidestone Consulting Group, US
  • Martha Harris,
    Earthaven Ecovillage, US
  • Scott Horton,
    Editor, Permaculture Activist, US
  • Hildur Jackson,
    Co-founder, Gaia Trust; cofounder, GEN; Ecovillage Living, Denmark
  • Kosha Joubert,
    Editor, Beyond You and Me, GEN's EDE Program; Ecovillage Sieben Linden, Germany
  • Elana Kann & Bill Flemming,
    Co-developers, Westwood Cohousing, US
  • Joseph F. Kennedy,
    Designer/educator; The Art of Natural Building, US
  • Fred & Nancy Lanphear,
    Northwest Intentional Communities Association (NICA); Songaia Cohousing, US
  • Mark Lakeman,
    Founder, Portland City Repair & Village Building Convergence, US
  • Max Lindegger,
    Cofounder, GEN; Director, GEN-Oceania/Asia; Crystal Waters Ecovillage, Australia
  • Chris Mare,
    GEN's EDE Program; Village Design Institute, US
  • Ronaye Matthew,
    Canadian Cohousing Network; Cranberry Commons Cohousing, Canada
  • Kathryn McCamant,
    Architect/Developer, Cohousing Partners, Inc.; Co-author, Cohousing; Nevada City Cohousing, US
  • Dr. Bill Metcalf,
    Findhorn Book of Community Living; Professor, Environmental Sociology, Griffith University, Australia
  • Ina Meyer-Stoll,
    Co-director, GEN-Europe; ZEGG, Germany
  • Tim Miller,
    The 60s Communes; Professor of Religion, University of Kansas, US
  • Hank Obermayer,
    Mariposa Grove Cohousing, US
  • Toshio Ogata,
    Professor of Economics, Chuo University; GEPA (Global Environment Project in Asia), Japan
  • Craig Ragland,
    Executive Director, Cohousing Association of the US; Songaia Cohousing; New Earth Song Cohousing, US
  • Penelope Reyes,
    President, GEN-Oceania/Asia; Tuwâ - The Laughing Fish, Cabiao, Philippines
  • Michael Rios,
    Network for a New Culture Summer Camp East; Chrysalis, Washington DC, US
  • Jim Shenck,
    Enright Ridge Ecovillage, US
  • Nicola Shirley,
    The Source Farm Ecovillage, Jamaica
  • Tony Sirna,
    Communities Directory; Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage, US
  • Jan Steinman,
    EcoReality Co-op, Canada
  • Liz Walker,
    GEN's EDE Program; Ecovillage at Ithaca; EcoVillage at Ithaca, US