The primary goals of our farming initiatives are to serve the nutritional needs of our residents and reduce our food costs.
Though every aposolate has been tasked with utilizing green space for farming projects including our urban homes, our programs in rural parts of Jamaica are an important driving force for this vision. The farm at Jerusalem! currently has two fish ponds, 2000 chickens for egg production, a vegetable garden, and a small flock of sheep. Jacob's Ladder, however, is where this vision comes alive.
Incredible strides have been made at Jacob's Ladder in Moneague, where we care for over 70 adult residents with disabilities. At Jacob's Ladder, we raise several different types of animals for high-protein food sources including pigs, rabbits, sheep, and cattle. In four thriving greenhouses, we are growing tomatoes and peppers. We are currently farming 10 acres of field crops including sweet potato, cabbage, sorrel, and Irish potato. Breadfruit and other fruit-bearing trees have been planted to serve as a lasting source of nourishment.
Our staff is currently building the infrastructure for "aquaponics," a food production system that harmonizes fish farming and hydroponic plant cultivation.
An overarching goal of MSC is to become self-sufficient and sustainable at each farming location.
As these projects grow, MSC will add the objective to sell the surplus crops and livestock to neighboring communities as a form of income. Any profits generated from the produce and farm goods will help defray our general operating costs, of which food is a significant and ever-increasing portion.
In Zimbabwe, a bakery and farm on-site produces 60 loaves of bread and 100 eggs daily. These goods provide for our numerous nutrition programs there and are also sold to the wider community of Bulawayo.
Hogar Belen Diriamba in Nicaragua is another site of agricultural development. The planting and animal husbandry initiatives include pigs, broiler chickens, and certain regional crops. The weather conditions in Diriamba present some challenges to growing this initiative, though we have had success with carrots, beans, sweet potatoes, and squash. MSC Nicaragua staff is currently researching additional crops and techniques that may prove more fruitful in the Diriamba climate.
Benefits for Residents
A long-term goal for our farming efforts is to offer a therapeutic alternative for the residents.
In Jamaica as well as Nicaragua, our hope is that the expansion of sustainable agriculture will allow residents to develop a sense of individual responsibility for the communities in which they live. This is of particular importance to our older residents at Jacob's Ladder, Jerusalem! and Hogar Belen Diriamba, as we strive to help them gain independence and occupational skills. These initiatives will help MSC to fulfill the vision of providing holistic care to our hundreds of residents with disabilities.