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JM | Dec 28, 2021

MAIA Foundation gifts second eco-village to Denham Town

Gavin Riley

Gavin Riley / Our Today

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After expanding its first eco-village, the Making An Impact All-Together (MAIA) Foundation returned to the St Anne’s Catholic Church in Denham Town to set up one more! (Photo contributed)

They say lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, but whoever sparked that idiom never met the Making An Impact All-Together (MAIA) Foundation, which installed a second eco-village in Denham Town recently. 

Founder and CEO of the MAIA Foundation, Marvin Campbell, in an interview with Our Today on Tuesday (December 28), explained that the newest urban garden is a 20-foot x 90-foot rectangular plot at the St Anne’s Catholic Church in the community. 

While considerably smaller in size to the Golden Heights eco-village, the latest initiative is anything but—with over 600 seedlings (cabbage, scotch bonnet pepper, sweetcorn, okra, sorrel, sweet pepper, lettuce and cilantro) in eight raised vegetable beds; trenches of banana and plantain trees as well as an 18-foot-tall breadfruit tree. 

The story of the second eco-village installation started with a conversation, according to Campbell, after other members of the community reached out to the MAIA Foundation weeks ago. 

“Sister Beverley and a very lovely young man, Charlie Jolly, approached us, we started talking and I said ‘As you know and have heard, we started the eco-village here and over the next year, we wanted to install more in the vicinity’ and they said, ‘Well, we have a space and the church will grant you access’. I was marvelled,” he began.

Having inspected the location of the would-be urban garden, the foundation agreed that the potential was there, however, the space would need to be purpose-built to optimise the sparse, readily available land. 

The prospect of breathing new life into the area appealed greatly to the German-Jamaican, as he learned that immediately behind the eco-village lies Pink Lane, a section of Denham Town once synonymous with shootings and murder.

“[St Anne’s] didn’t have a lot of space to use but I think it was just divine since there was so much loss of life on the street, that the street is giving life again, giving hope again. I found that amazing,” the MAIA Foundation boss explained.

“The MAIA Foundation always tries to show and display where you can grow and feed despite your circumstances. So in this case, we tailor-made something very simple,” Campbell added.

Pleased by the positive reception from the wider Denham Town, a somewhat lost-for-words Campbell told Our Today that a second eco-village was the perfect way for the MAIA Foundation to close out 2021. 

“With the installation of the second eco-village, we have rounded out 2021 beautifully! We have been left feeling blessed that so many people have supported us. It’s amazing really to see how welcoming everyone was: from the community and our sponsors to the volunteers, it baffles me,” he said.

“In the lifespan of each eco-village, the urban garden is just phase one. From thereon, we have other phases that will make the eco-villages sustainable but we need to start with the urban gardens because they are a testing ground and they tie in with phase two. We’re hoping to install five or six more eco-villages next year,” Campbell argued.

The buy-in from Denham Town may have happened relatively quickly, but the receptiveness is exactly what the MAIA Foundation was hoping to achieve. 

Heading into 2022, the foundation now plans to go full-steam in not only building out more eco-villages but deepening the impact of existing urban gardens.

Also on the foundation’s horizon is an intention to expand its offerings to include training as well as creating opportunities for community members to move from merely ‘living’ off the gardens but eventually turning profits, too.

Several of the many raised vegetable beds created by the MAIA Foundation at St Anne’s Catholic Church in Denham Town, Kingston. (Photo contributed)

“Pretty soon, they will have their hands full with produce and we want them to have the capability to sell. The eco-village is not just to beautify and feed people in the communities but also to prepare them to start different solutions in [reaching] carbon neutrality. I, personally, am extremely excited for next year,” Campbell told Our Today.

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