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Mustard Seed Community aims to become self-sustained

Agriculture Ministry to support initiative

Thursday, March 07, 2013 | 5:08 PM    

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ST ANN, Jamaica — Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke has pledged his assistance to the Mustard Seed Community of Jacob’s Ladder in Moneague, St Ann as the facility aims to become self-sustained through agriculture.

Sitting on 102 acres of land, Jacob’s Ladder is committed to being self-sustained and has become more involved in agriculture as it works to feed its residents. 

Jacob’s Ladder currently house over 40 people with disabilities ranging from ages 18 to 54, property administrator Denyse Perkins said during a tour of the facilities on Thursday, March 7.

The facility expects to increase its capacity to approximately 400 in the next three to four years and so becoming self-sustained is a main priority.

“What we are trying to do here is be self-sustaining in terms of feeding ourselves,” Perkins said.

The facility is now largely involved in the rearing of cows, sheep, goats, pigs and rabbits; a large variety of crops are also on the property. 

Following a tour of the expansive property on Thursday, Clarke said he was impressed with the facility and pledged to assist through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).

“I want to commend them and I have given them my commitment that we will work with them to really become sustainable,” Clarke said.

“I commit the Ministry of Agriculture and RADA to working with them to achieve their goals,” he added.

The Minister said the facilities “lend themselves to the situation where they can be self sustaining.”

“We want to help them to see how they, within the confines here, can provide enough sustenance for the inmates who are here,” he added.

The facilities could also become a training ground for farmers in the area, the minister said.

Clarke said with the work in agriculture already undertaken at the facility without assistance from the outside, “the potential is great”.

Jacob’s Ladder currently has four green houses, three of which are currently being repaired with the help of the Canadian High Commission, following damages suffered during the passage of Hurricane Sandy last October.

The facility is also involved in rain harvesting, having two catchment tanks on property, which are used for irrigation.

According to Father Garvin Augustine, executive director of the Mustard Seed Community International, the facility takes in people with disabilities from its various communities, which house children with disabilities only up to the age of 18 years.

“These residents have nowhere to go, they are people with various forms of disabilities, particularly the mental disability, that have no family or no community that will take them back, so we will have them from the cradle to the grave,” Father Augustine said.

He explained the facility is divided into semi-independent housing with six people per unit.

Those who can work are also trained to assist in the property’s agriculture, he said.

The community also expects to build several more housing units, as it will extend its operations to accommodate more people. 

— Renae Dixon

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