ALL the Old Folly community in Discovery Bay, St Ann needed was a push-start and last year Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners did just that by constructing a greenhouse for the residents.
Since then the Old Folly Youth and Community group has been engaged in several projects which it hopes will not only provide employment for many but also make the community group self-sustaining.
A community group worthy of emulation, the Old Folly Community Club, which was conceptualised three years ago, is involved in farming, brick making and chicken and pig rearing.
"One of the main things is to generate employment for the youngsters," George Brown, president of the Old Folly Youth and Community Club, said, during a tour of the farm last Wednesday.
The robust-looking broccoli grown in the greenhouse was admired by persons on the tour and many were also left in amazement at the diversity of crops grown in the small area near the facility. Pine, pak choi, callaloo, squash, turnips and grapes are among the foodstuff grown by the community members.
Of significant note was the fact that the majority of those involved in the community farming project were residents as young as 12 years old.
"It definitely lifts the spirit of the community," Brown said, adding that the farm has been a major motivating factor among community members.
Kent Skyers, Noranda's public relations superintendent, said, "So far this project has exceeded all expectations."
Bridgette Corrodus, a farmer involved with the project, said the fact that there are no elderly persons participating is clear indication that more youngsters are gravitating to farming, and attributes this to the recognition that there are benefits to be gained.
Old Folly is a small community with approximately 1,000 residents, who previously depended mainly on fishing to earn a living.
However, the aim is now to make farming a wide-scale activity in the community as residents hope to capitalise on the ready hotel markets.
Meanwhile, Skyers said Noranda will now be looking at ways it can assist the community in marketing its products.
He noted that Old Folly is the first community in the Discovery Bay area to have a greenhouse set up by the company.
While the community is now excited about planting food items, it is equally elated about its growing block-making project, which is set up at the community centre.
The project, which also generates employment for young people in the community, and is funded by Noranda's GetStart programme, sees youngsters joining with the club's president to make decorative and walkway blocks.
"Dem willing. Dem race each other just to put dem in the mould and to take dem out," an excited Brown told the Jamaica Observer North East.
According to Brown, the idea for the block making came about when one community member received a mould.
"Right now we have order from a guest house for 3,000 blocks," Brown said.
The community is also active in chicken and pig rearing which it hopes to extend soon.
There is also a sewing group which will soon be operating from the community centre.
The community club expects to use funding from these projects to sustain other community activities.
One such activity will be the community annual sports day, to be held later this month.
The sports day event will see community members from the very young to the elderly participating, as, according to Brown, "persons look forward to the event yearly".
The sewing group is expected to prepare costumes for the cheerleading groups from the three community houses.
Brown boasted that the community is active in sports, hosting several competitions among themselves to keep the community spirit alive.
The community has won several major competitions such as the St Ann Champion of Champions cricket competition for which they are the reigning champions.
The community's cheerleading squad is also the 2011 champions in the Social Development Commission cheerleading competition.