Beeston Spring, named in 2009 as the most outstanding community (out of 240 communities islandwide), can be found 750ft up in the mountains a few miles from Sandals Whitehouse, in Westmoreland. Steeped in charm and Caribbean history, the village takes its name from the famous natural spring located there.
This is the pilot village in the Countrystyle Tourism "Villages as Businesses" program.
When you arrive you will be greeted by Astil Gage, the Village Co-ordinator, his family and friends. And you will be entertained by the popular Mighty Beestons Mento Band, and enjoy a natural community experience which includes a tour of the community.
You will visit the Salem Moravian Church, farms, a bee-keeping demonstration, heritage sites and you will see the villager's arts and crafts, enjoy a selection of tasty Jamaican foods and popular Jamaican desserts, and enjoy the Mighty Mentos music.
In 1860, Alexander B. Lind, a Moravian Missionary, purchased a property a few miles from Beeston Spring Estate, in order to relocate the congregation at New Hope to a healthier locality away from the coast. He then sold forty acres for a mission station and sub-divided and sold the rest to members of the Moravian Church, and to others.
The people were delighted with the opportunity of obtaining freeholds for themselves on land that contained many acres of splendid woodland, and construction of the Salem Moravian Church began. By the time the church opened in 1867, the congregation had contributed £275 in cash and given labour valued at over £300.
The spring on the property was kept as a community water supply through a deed gift to the church by Lind on his retirement in 1891.
There is a very high level of unemployment, particularly among the young people of this farming community, with a population of about 2500.
But several positive steps are being taken to help village and the young people.
Building on the success of the Mighty Beestons Mento Band, the village has bought congo drums to train the young men.
A community organic garden has been started but more support and training are needed to fully develop this faclity.
The village has football and cricket teams and there is interest in forming a marching band.
Astil Gage, the Village Co-ordinator, and the community, wish to see an emphasis on youth development with disciplinary and skills training, and introduction of activities that address the void often filled by drugs.
They wish to focus on development of the health and wellness market, adding value to the wide variety of herbs that grow in abundance, and they have expressed interest in learning doll-making, embroidery and pastry making skills, provided through Countrystyle’s Cupid Craft training program, because visitors can then purchase items directly from the community.
They have expressed interest in learning doll-making, embroidery and pastry making skills, provided through Countrystyle’s Cupid Craft training program, because visitors can then purchase items directly from the community.
They see the spring as an opportunity for further development, and they also wish to have an International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPT) Peace Park, and have identified an area for this purpose.
The Countrystyle Community Tourism Network has been assisting the community, as consultants for community development through tourism, for over 15 years.
They offer training programs, and promote tours for local and international visitors.
You can view and download Countrystyle's Beeston Spring brochure by clicking this link.
The Sandals Foundation has partnered with Countrystyle Tourism to assist in the development of Beeston Spring community for over five years, and recently invited over 600 of the Flight Centre team from Canada to work with the community and assist with their projects.
The Sandals Foundation has said that their commitment to this community has strengthened, and they will include training of community members in order to promote this beautiful area as a "Community Tourism destination", and to further assist in generally improving the community infra-structure, to enable the village to be the model village for Jamaica.
Anyone, or any organization, interested in adopting/helping this Village, or any other village, please contact Diana - see below.
Countrystyle arranges study tour vacations, featuring the Villages as Businesses project.
Contact Diana at Countrystyle for more information.
Paul Fenty from Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands says -
"Beeston Spring is a sample of what the community can achieve by working together. I was impressed on my visit in October 2013 by the bee farm, the use of herbs, the RRR business, the Mentos Band, the use of natural, available resources. I am inspired.