Bluefields is located in Westmorland on the beautiful island of Jamaica. It sits at 18.166 latitude and -78.027 longitude with an elevation of 18 metres. Originally called Oristan by the Spaniards, it was the third settlement to be established in Jamaica having been established in 1519. It was a strategic place for the Spaniards to monitor ships going to and from Spain however, in the 1600s, the British arrived naming it Bluefields(originally spelt ‘blewfields‘) instead. The Spanish and the British however cannot take credit for founding this beautiful and multipurpose land. Archaeological research has shown that Tainos had inhabited the area in 750 AD-1500 AD.
Bluefields was a common destination for people like Abraham Blauvelt who Bluefields was actually named after.
He was a Dutch pirate who visited the area frequently for over 300 years.
He would use the area to careen and repair his vessels while hiding from British patrol warships. Spaniards and slave ships also frequented this area. Between 1662 and 1719, the British made 16 land grants and started developing the area into plantations between 1700 and 1838.
Henry Morgan also visited Bluefields Bay in 1670. He used the bay as a gathering place for his trip back to Panama in January 1671. He returned to Jamaica in 1674 after being knighted by Charles II and appointed Lieutenant Governer of the Island.
Captain Bligh, famous for Mutiny on the Bounty (mutiny is a criminal conspiracy and Bounty is a small merchant vessel bought by the Royal Navy for a botanical mission. During his visit, he planted the first breadfruit tree in Bath, St. Thomas.
The community of Bluefields is building themselves on four pillars:
1. Education for all
2. Food for all
3. Jobs for all
4. Protection of our resources
Ways in which Bluefields is trying to achieve these goals are:
-harvesting and maintaining farms
-promoting more entrepreneurial ideas so that more jobs may be available
-Having the fish sanctuary and protecting the bay.
This farm produces crops such as: sorrel, pineapple, avocado, ackee and etc. It is owned by a man named Bryan.
The land is owned by the government but it still can be used. Bryan doesn’t use pesticides or artificial fertilizers. He uses natural fertilizer which he makes using a compost pile.
Produce from the farm are sold at the local market and supplies the people who live in the community and those who visit. Bryan, along with being a farmer, is the president of the Organic Farm Association in Bluefields. Logwood can also be found in the area of the farm although it is not produced on it. Lodwood came to Jamaica from Honduras and was used to make dye. The heart of the tree is red; to retrieve the red pigment, the heart needs to be boiled. Bluefields also hosts an annual sorrel festival. It is set to be held on December 19, 2014.
Here is a link to a video showing the sorrel fully grown on Bryan’s Farm: http://youtu.be/7Q9xuoILo0w
Bluefields has always been a place of visitation; from the 1600s. Various people have come to Bluefields during that time and built numerous Great Houses. These houses exist today along with villas. These villas house both locals and tourists but mostly tourists. The Bluefields Seaside Villas are owned by a family in Washington. The following villas can be found in Bluefields:
1. San Michele
2. Mullion Cove
3. The Hermitage
4. Cottonwood Cottage
The great houses are either owned by family members of the original owners or the government.
Bluefields aims to become a place of hospitality. Bringing in foreign exchange can help in the development of the community and bring exposure to help solve some of their development issues.
A video link to show the villas of Bluefields:http://youtu.be/HjVoD-5c5LY
One of the many projects being operated currently in the Bluefields community is an aquaponics project. It is a process where fish are raised and crops are grown under one roof. It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development. Livingston Thompson is the manager of the project.
The project involves housing fish in pool and the waste from the fish are pumped to the crops housed in the same area; the waste acts as fertilizer.
The water is then filtered and goes back to the fish. It is a continuous cycle and is very effective and inefficient in moving towards sustainable development.
The Fish Sanctuary
The Bluefields Bay Fish Sanctuary is 3054 acres and covers 6.5 miles of the Jamaican south-western coastline. It is the largest sanctuary in Jamaica.
400 fishermen surrounds this sanctuary so it is important to keep this area flowing with fish. The protected area has mangroves, seagrass beds, coral reef and artificial reef units. It hosts a number of community-based tourism activities for visitors. The Bluefield’s Bay Fisherman’s Friendly Society (BBFFS) manages the fish sanctuary. The society was created in 2004 and the president is Livingston Thompson.
The fish sanctuary began on the realization that fish population was on the decline due to improper fishing practices. Steps were taken with the help of foreign entities such as the Caribbean Fish Sanctuary Partnership Initiative (C-FISH), to convert the area into a no fishing zone.
C-FISH: Fish Sanctuaries For Sustainable Communities was implemented from CARIBSAVE. It is funded by the UKaid(2.1 million pounds). Their objectives are:
1. To Build
2. To Support
3. To Teach
4. To Monitor
They improve the management of marine resources and promote sustainable livelihood by making marine sanctuaries more effective and decreasing the chances of damage occurring during climate changes. Bluefields Bay has been able to purchase their own patrol boat and other equipment. It also provided jobs for members of the community. Three wardens, one supervisor and several others have been hired to help protect the area.
We invite anyone who would like to be a part of this movement to sustainable development.
Take a look at this video explaining some of what has been going on in the fish sanctuary: http://youtu.be/Md3YZDqee3Y