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Sustainable Agriculture & Community Development in Jamaica - St Mary

Sustainable Agriculture & Community Development in Jamaica - St Mary

Purpose
Support sustainable farming initiatives
Start dates
Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
Duration
Choose from 1-4 weeks
Volunteer hours
Up to 4 hours a day
Age
Volunteers aged 18+ and families
Accommodation
Dormitory-style volunteer house
Program fees
From CA$756 for 1 week
What's included
Find out here
Apply for free
'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

This program is ideal for:

Fit and active volunteers who are keen to get involved in a variety of tasks, some that can be physically demanding. No previous farming experience is necessary.

Project details

Interested in promoting sustainable farming practices by volunteering in Jamaica? International Volunteer HQ’s Sustainable Agriculture and Community Development project gives you the chance to volunteer at a local ranch that specializes in goat farming, or help young people in Jamaica get involved in agricultural practices, such as farming, beekeeping, soap making, paper making and other skills. Both of these farming placements help generate income opportunities for local people and work towards a more sustainable future in farming.

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

Sustainable farming for local youth placement

Many young Jamaicans living in low-income communities face a range of social barriers, which can make it difficult for them to gain qualifications and secure long-term employment. This can leave many youth on the street and contributes towards high levels of unemployment.

As a Sustainable Agriculture volunteer, you’ll help encourage local youth from the wider community to learn new farming skills, which can generate steady future income streams for them. The farm also provides a safe “hang out” environment for young people, and those who attend receive a stipend and 2 meals a day for their contribution. You can expect to be involved in tasks such as:

  • Preparing / cleaning garden beds for planting
  • Preparing produce for sale (processing)
  • Maintaining garden beds
  • Engaging with young people (discussing interests, signposting to local organizations and encouraging learning skills)
  • Caring for animals (chickens, rabbits)
  • Grant & proposal writing
  • Social media & admin
  • Arts & crafts such as producing body soaps from ingredients on the property and making paper from non-producing banana trees which would otherwise be burned

There is a small animal slaughter area on the property (chickens and rabbits). Volunteers do not need to work in this area however should be aware of its presence on the property.

Sustainable goat farming placement

Another popular placement for volunteers on the Sustainable Agriculture & Community Development project is at a local ranch, nestled in the rural areas of St. Mary, which specializes in sustainable goat farming.

Volunteers can get involved in a range of activities at the ranch based on their interests. These include:

  • Feeding and watering the goats
  • Maintaining cleanliness in the goat house
  • Milking goats
  • Overseeing the grazing routines of the animals
  • Volunteers with a background in farming can contribute to brainstorming sessions
  • Volunteers with a business background can contribute to digital marketing strategies, account planning, data analysis, and business planning
  • Volunteers with an environmental background can help research and implement environmental polices and procedures.

For both these placements, volunteers will need to bring clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, boots with a grip, a hat and sunscreen.

If you have a placement preference, please note this on your application form and the local team will do their best to place you there - however, this also depends on the needs of the placement at the time, so your first choice cannot always be guaranteed.

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

Contributes to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal #8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

As job losses escalate as a result of Covid-19, it is estimated that nearly half of the global workforce is at risk of losing their livelihoods. We must improve access to jobs, decent work conditions and community services in order to achieve peace, sustainable economic growth and a better quality of life for all.

Why do Sustainable Agriculture & Community Development volunteering in St Mary with IVHQ?

By volunteering on a local farm in Jamaica you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Helping make farms more sustainable and resilient
  • Introducing local youth to modern farming techniques
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining farming and youth development experience
  • Immersing yourself in the Jamaican way of life
  • Adventuring around Jamaica’s beautiful landscapes

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply for free

Not sure which program to join?

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'Who is going' users image
Who is going?
Group video calls

Once you have secured your place, join regular video calls to meet your Program Manager and other volunteers before your trip.

What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

CR
Caryn Riggs
30 Apr 2023

I would definitely recommend volunteering abroad with IVHQ. The whole experience was amazing. Meeting new people and experiencing a new culture was my favorite thing and watching my students flourish with this new experience.

...
RK
Rutbah Kamal
30 Apr 2023

My volunteering trip taught me to be willing to try new things and understand other people better. It’s a scary and nerve wracking experience, but you will meet some of the best people and learn skills you never would otherwise. My favorite moment was being able to actually help people and see the impact of what I'm doing.

...
RB
Raven Bernardo
17 Feb 2023

The way you get to connect not only with the locals but also with people all around the globe and this makes you open your mind was my favorite thing about my experience, and that I understand and respect other cultures and the way I see things that are different from my surroundings. If you are hesitant, just go for it! There is no way to regret it.

...
KB
Kelsey Botelho
08 Feb 2023

You leave looking at the world differently and you learn so much. Take the opportunity.

...
LC
Lara Cording
26 Jan 2023

Being part of a different culture and be reminded how blessed we are and that it’s the simple things in life which matter the most had the biggest impact on me - it’s the best opportunity to center yourself and to find gratitude in everything we do and have.

...
MA
Maria Jose Ardila
15 Dec 2022

Don't think twice. Just make sure you know every detail and to be prepared. IVHQ is one of the best options in terms of every aspect. Choosing just one favorite moment is extremely difficult for me. Getting to know the students and just giving them love and them giving me back lots of hugs, kisses and laughs was definitely the highlight of my trip. But also getting to explore the city and it's attractions was great. Remember that life happens, you decide what attitude to put on. Enjoying and getting the best out of it should be always the case. Also, always be kind to others.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

Gain course credit from your college or university and meet your academic requirements when completing a volunteer abroad program with International Volunteer HQ!

Learn about course credit

Location

Volunteer Abroad in Jamaica with IVHQ

Location

On the world stage, Jamaica is the star of the Caribbean. Home to the Rastafarian religion and culture, reggae music and known for its sporting efforts, it also boasts dazzling beaches, plentiful wildlife and being the backdrop for many James Bond films. It has long been a popular tourist destination. But despite all of this, Jamaica has a history of slavery, unemployment and slow economic development that are still in the process of being remedied today. Volunteers are needed to provide support for people who face the challenges of living in low-income communities and to help address socioeconomic inequalities so this island nation can continue to grow and prosper.

Tucked up on the stunning north-eastern coast is the parish of St Mary where IVHQ’s Jamaica program is based. Volunteer projects are located in St Ann and St Mary, within 10 to 50 minutes from the volunteer accommodation and close to the port town of Ocho Rios, which is a resort and cruise ship harbor and has plenty of restaurants and craft markets which volunteers can explore in their free time.

Arrival and orientation

The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month and volunteers need to arrive in Jamaica on the Sunday before orientation.

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at the Sangster International Airport (MBJ) which is the closest airport to the volunteer accommodation. Airport pick up is provided on Sundays only.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and taken to the volunteer accommodation in St Mary (around 1.5 - 2 hours away). Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Jamaica prior to your volunteer program, you will need to liaise with the local team to arrange a pick up from your location, or make your own way to the volunteer accommodation.

Orientation is provided by our Jamaica team at the volunteer accommodation. Orientation begins at 9:00 AM Monday morning and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Jamaica – an introduction to Jamaica, Jamaican customs, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Jamaica, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Volunteer schedule example

First day

You will be taken to your placement by a local team member and introduced to the placement staff.

Weekdays

You may have a morning or afternoon shift, or both, and can expect to work a minimum of 3 hours, Monday through Friday. Start time and daily workload depends on your chosen project. A typical daily schedule would be as follows:

7:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8:00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project.
12:00 PM Break for lunch.
1:00 PM Work at the placement commences if you have been assigned with an afternoon shift.
3:30 PM You are free to travel back to the volunteer house to relax, visit the nearby beach, go sightseeing or do some shopping.

Weekends

With weekends free, you’ll be able to explore all that St Mary, Ochos Rios and wider Jamaica have to offer, including the country’s distinctive food, music and culture.

The area is a popular destination for resorts and cruise ships, and you can expect to discover beautiful beaches, waterfalls and art galleries within close proximity of the volunteer accommodation. Snorkeling, hiking and other adventure activities are also popular with visitors to Jamaica. You can also visit notable spots like the Firefly Estate which once belonged to Sir Henry Morgan - of Captain Morgan rum fame - and then English playwright Noel Coward; or the Castleton Botanical Gardens which are among the oldest in the western world.

The team in Jamaica also have a range of tours that you can book directly with them, either before or after you arrive in Jamaica. These include but aren’t limited to a Kingston city tour where you’ll visit the Bob Marley Museum, an eco-community and a have cultural music lesson; a Black River safari on which you cruise down the Black River and see alligators, tropical birds and mangrove trees in their natural setting; and a surf camp.

Accommodation and WiFi

You’ll stay in a dormitory-style volunteer house. Living is comfortable with electricity, running water, WiFi and western bathrooms. There is no air-conditioning in the accommodation, however fans are provided.

Bedrooms have bunk beds and you can expect to share a room with one to three other volunteers of the same gender. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is usually not heated. You should bring your own toiletries and towels.

Meals

A basic daily breakfast of toast, spreads, tea and coffee is included and you’re free to help yourself to these each morning at the volunteer house.

For lunch and dinner, you can cook for yourself in the communal kitchen at the volunteer accommodation - this has a gas hob, oven, kettle, microwave, fridge, freezer and pantry space. Alternatively, you can buy lunch and dinner from nearby restaurants for between US$5 (approximately CA$7) and US$25 (approximately CA$36) per meal.

For volunteers who would like to have their dinners provided, a home-cooked weekly dinner plan (Monday - Friday) is available for US$79 (approximately CA$113) per week. You can book this via your MyIVHQ Checklist once you have registered for the Jamaica program. Vegetarians and vegans can be catered for, however not all diets can be covered. Please let your IVHQ Program Manager know about any dietary requirements you have before you book the dinner plan.

Tap water in Jamaica is generally safe to drink but please check with your accommodation host if you are unsure. We encourage you to bring a reusable water bottle to refill so you can avoid buying plastic water bottles.

Pricing

  • USD

Spots are limited. For a Registration Fee of just US$329 (approximately CA$474) you secure your spot and unlock all our preparation and training tools.

You don't need to worry about paying your Program Fee until you get closer to your start date.

Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week $525 Equivalent to $75/day
2 weeks $924 Equivalent to $66/day
3 weeks $1,290 Equivalent to $61/day
4 weeks $1,634 Equivalent to $58/day
  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$474) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Jamaica generally find US$400 -$500 per week to be sufficient for additional expenses.
  • Light breakfast supplies
  • Airport pick-up
  • Accommodation
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • Lunch and dinner
  • Transport to and from your placement each day
  • Return to the airport when your program finishes
  • Flights
  • Visa (if required), travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check.
  • Personal spending money for snacks, laundry, public transportation, drinks and leisure activities during your free time.

Free-time experiences & tours in St Mary

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in St Mary! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ St Mary program.

Blue Hole Excursion
Blue Hole Excursion

Spend an afternoon cliff jumping and swimming in a natural series of waterfalls and swimming holes.

CA$73
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion
Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon Excursion

Tour to the historical caves of Green Grotto, once home to the first inhabitants of the island.

CA$155
Jamaican Cooking Class
Jamaican Cooking Class

Learn to prepare Jamaican dishes from a local expert in this 2.5 hour cooking class.

CA$36

Check what's required to visit Jamaica

Safety and support

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Essential country information

Capital Kingston
Population 2.9 million
Languages English
Currency Jamaican Dollar (JMD)
Time zone UTC-5:00

Weather and climate

The climate in Jamaica is typical of a Caribbean climate - warm days year-round with rainy winters and dry summers. The pleasant Jamaican climate makes travel possible at any time of the year. The rainy season is generally from May to November. Average temperatures in Jamaica range between 70°F and 80°F (21°C to 28°C), with July and August being the hottest months and February the coolest.

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How to get started

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