More Than A Vacation

More Than A Vacation

When ACE first came to St. Mary, we called it a Vacation with a Purpose. This was pre-Galina Breeze Hotel; we were staying in an older hotel across from the main road with a view of the beach and some garbage. We knew that when most people take a vacation from work, they want to sit and relax, but this was going to be different. It was a break from the everyday but with meaning… and a lot of work.

Speeding forward several decades, ACE has retooled. Due to the challenging times we live in, thanks to COVID, where organizations are not sending larger groups, we are taking this opportunity to step back and refocus on what individual volunteers can bring to the table. We are living out our saying of “Flexibility is the key to success” motto these days. Instead of us telling you what to do, you can tell us what fits best with your talents, skills and interests. We’ve created a new Impact Menu list for you to choose what projects and experiences suit you.

We still offer the opportunity for groups to come down together, but we know that there are many individuals who want to come and join up with other adventurous people to work together, serve the community and make a difference. We have several weeks set aside each month through March (with more to come the rest of the year) for you to choose what works for you.

Want to come on your own? Do you have a friend you think would be interested… or even your family or small group of friends? Check it out by clicking the button below. Consider it.  We can still change lives and transform communities – one volunteer at a time!

Farming With the Family: August 2020

Farming With the Family: August 2020

Last Tuesday, Green Life Llanrumney Farms (GLLF), an ACE micro-business, hosted its first “Llanrunmey Agricultural Meeting” at Buccaneers. Local farmers in the area and district were invited to attend a one-hour meeting to learn about what ACE, through GLLF, plans to do in the agricultural field of growing. We were so pleased at the turnout! Approximately forty farmers, both men and women, joined us in the conference room to hear about the possibilities of farming on the Llanrunmey property – as well as on their own farms – with the seeds we prepared in advance, thanks to a generous farmer in Kentucky who donated the vast variety of organic vegetable seeds.

Much discussion was had over the ups and downs of farming, like the lack of land, and lack of equipment to plow and prepare the property for planting. GLLF was able to share the vision we have for the farming side of the property and how that would benefit all. We think the most important outcome of this meeting was the excitement of everyone wanting to can the food when the prices are low to use later.

We agreed and will be looking for more supporters to help us with another gross of canning jars from the States. Everyone left their names, numbers and locations. We will be physically following up with our farmers by charting their planting season to see who is serious and who is not. After seeing the initial planting, we hope to have several local growers for Galina Breeze Hotel and ACE. They eat what they grow and what farmers don’t eat, Galina Breeze will purchase at a fair market price. Now that’s some real groceries growing! Stay tuned for more of this exciting venture as we are growing not only our farmers’ livelihood but our family as well!

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Farming with the Family

Farming with the Family

Every day, something new happens on the farm that we didn’t know could happen. We find hidden skills we didn’t know we had, as well as hidden treasure in the bushes or creeks.  All of us have enjoyed having this new property in St. Mary to share with our neighbors and friends. We are leasing out land for farming crops and for raising goats, chickens, and pigs. It’s all the little guys – our families and local farmers – that need a place to make a living, and we get to build relationships that go deep.

In the meantime, we are learning so much. Just this week, as we cleaned out waterways, we uncovered what appears to be an old water wagon. The wheels and wagon were covered up with bamboo and debris. Huie, our farm manager, commented, “Hey, we could make some tables out of that for the restaurant.” That comment alone instantly started us reminiscing about all the “free material” we have found on the farm that we are using to improve the property.

Old windows, metal pieces, doors, blocks, great pieces of timber – you name it and we’ve found it. We thank God that He continually reminds us of His presence. We are also continually reminded of His little pests’ presence, as well… called ticks, but that’s why we have lemongrass (or as they say, “fever grass”), a natural deterrent.

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Marla’s Minute: Farming with the Family

Marla’s Minute: Farming with the Family

As most of you are aware, ACE has stepped out and purchased the historic Llanrunmey farm located next to the Campus. It is a big step of faith, particularly now that the virus has nearly stopped Jamaica and the world. However, this is just another chance to see God at work when we can’t visibly see our enemy.

Thanks to you, our supporters, we’ve been able to keep our staff working at least two days a week. We always say at ACE, “Flexibility is the key to success” so, with enthusiasm, the ACE family is joining the Green Life Farm staff to work the farm. We will keep you posted regularly on what farming with the ACE family looks like and show you our progress.

As our friends and family read this, I personally can feel the smiles (all teeth smiles), laughing – who would have thought that Marla and Allen would be farming? All we can say is we’re glad we can add humor to your day as we all plough through this stay-at-home boredom! So, read on and learn a few things. We are picking up a few tips and trivia along with chiggers and ticks.

With the farm came five donkeys! Just this month, we’ve learned something about them: did you know that donkeys love small dark places to hang out? That’s right, they do not prefer the big beautiful barns that horses and cows enjoy. We are in process of making a barn out of the old farm manager’s house by taking a few doors off the entrances. This is where our unusual friends like to hang out. Some in the kitchen, some in the bathroom, and if the house had closets, I know they would all try to fit in there, too.

Secondly, donkeys all do their “business” in one spot together. I kept wondering if only one donkey was creating this enormous pile of donkey doo until one day, I caught them. Apparently, donkeys must debrief in the morning to discuss where they will do their “doo”. Now, that’s organization!

While we are learning, we are working hard at preserving what God has given us. We are mending fences, bushing out weeds, spraying wasps, and getting our horses (yes, we have five of them, too) cleaned, fed, and repaired, and we are figuring out how, when school starts again, to teach our students to care for these beautiful beasts.

As far as a plan for the farm, we are praying we can get cattle on the property as soon as possible. Jamaica specializes in Red Poles, Black Angus and Brahma cattle. The Jamaican government’s agricultural division RADA (Rural Agricultural Development Authority) is helping us with writing the proposal as there is a big push for Jamaica to get back into the cattle business. We would appreciate your prayers because if we can get started, we should have a good crop for sale when the hotels reopen.

Best wishes to all of you, or, as they say in the farm world, “Happy Trails!”