Sustainable Agriculture & Community Development Volunteer Program in Jamaica - St Mary
Interested in supporting local Jamaican youth and promoting sustainable farming practices by volunteering in Jamaica? International Volunteer HQ’s Sustainable Agriculture and Community Development project encourages young people in Jamaica to get involved in agriculture and develop an interest in farming, beekeeping, soap making, paper making and other skills which may help generate future income opportunities.
- Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
- Affordable fees from $500 for 1 week
- Includes accommodation, continental breakfast ingredients supplied, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
Help youth learn sustainable farming practices in a safe space
Enjoy Jamaica’s laid-back vibe and natural beauty
Stay in a volunteer house near James Bond Beach in St Mary
This program is ideal for:
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
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
Volunteers will need to bring clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, boots with a grip, a hat and sunscreen.
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.
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
- 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.
Jamaica photo gallery
Academic course credit
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”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. ”
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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
You will be taken to your placement by a local team member and introduced to the placement staff.
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, go sightseeing or do some shopping.|
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 James Bond Beach; 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.
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 $5 and $25 per meal.
For volunteers who would like to have their dinners provided, a home-cooked weekly dinner plan (Monday - Friday) is available for $79 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.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|1 week||$500 Equivalent to $71/day|
|2 weeks||$899 Equivalent to $64/day|
|3 weeks||$1,265 Equivalent to $60/day|
|4 weeks||$1,609 Equivalent to $57/day|
- Continental breakfast Ingredients supplied
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- 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
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of $299 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, some meals, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Jamaica generally find US$400 -$500 per week to be sufficient for additional expenses.
Recommended activities and tour add-ons
The Blue Hole is located in St Ann, Jamaica, and is a perfect 2.5 hour excursion for outdoor adventure enthusiasts looking to spend an afternoon cliff jumping and swimming in a natural series of waterfalls and swimming holes.
This excursion cost $51 per person and operates every Wednesday. This fee includes your entrance fee, transportation, a locker, and a personal guide for your 2.5 hour visit.
The Green Grotto Caves & Luminous Lagoon experience is a 4.5 hour tour where you will visit the historical caves of Green Grotto, once home to the first inhabitants of the island. You’ll participate in a guided tour of these caves with a swim in the glowing water of Luminous Lagoon, one of only a few like it in the world. This natural wonder offers a once in a lifetime experience.
This excursion costs $108 per person which includes your entrance fee, transportation, boat tour and a personal guide for your visit.
Learn the latest Jamaican dance moves with a local reggae professional during a reggae dance class with your fellow volunteers!
This activity costs $25 per person and the dance class will take 1.5 hours to complete.
Learn to prepare Jamaican dishes from a local expert alongside your fellow volunteers; you’ll be sure to impress everyone back home!
This activity costs $25 per person and includes a professional instructor, ingredients, and a complimentary beverage for the cooking class which will take 2.5 hours to complete.
Please contact us or your IVHQ Program Manager to sign up or to get more information about any of these activities and tours.
Check what's required to visit Jamaica
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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.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 upon arrival
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|Currency||Jamaican Dollar (JMD)|
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.