Windrush migrant returned to Jamaica in 1989 to help build community
RECIPIENT of the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation, Stanley Roy Archer, lives by the famous quote of former President of the United States, John F Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country”
Born in the parish of St Ann, Archer grew up in Jeffery Town, St Mary, but migrated to the United Kingdom in 1954 and as part of the Windrush generation.
“I am humbled by this recognition,” he tells JIS News, after collecting his award recently at Jamaica House for service to Jamaica (Agriculture and Civic Development).
Archer says being able to give back to his community and Jamaica is what keeps him going.
“On my return to Jamaica in 1989, the year after Hurricane Gilbert totally destroyed farms, I knew I had to do something for Jamaica land I love,” he says.
Archer recalls that when he visited Jamaica then, the intention was to return to England, but he was so alarmed at the situation in Jeffery Town, he changed his mind.
“There was nothing here in farming, everything was mashed up, not even the boiler house was standing, so I decided to stay and help build back my community,” he tells JIS News.
One of Archer’s first tasks was to ensure that there was piped water in Jeffery Town and its environs. He lobbied the political representatives on both sides to support his efforts and was able to obtain three miles of four-inch pipes.
With assistance from the National Water Commission, farmers and members of the community volunteered their services to lay the pipes, which are, today, still providing piped water for the community.
Members of the community worked with Archer to orchestrate the revival of the farms and livelihood of Jeffery Town, which is famous for bananas, breadfruit, dasheen, and sugar cane.
According to Archer, after hearing several complaints from farmers who expressed their frustration at not being able to find markets for their produce and livestock, he formed the Jeffery Town Farmers’ Association (JTFA) on his verandah.
Three decades later, the JTFA is one of Jamaica’s most successful farmers’ associations, recognised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In 2014, the JTFA was one of 26 indigenous communities from across the world that were awarded the Equator Prize. The members were lauded for their work to protect environmental resources and sustainably manage natural ecosystems, and for their efforts to address climate change head on and innovate new solutions to issues of food security, land management and water conservation.
According to a UNDP case study, JTFA presently employs a multimedia approach to inform and educate farming communities on alternative energy options, sustainable agricultural techniques and disaster risk reduction.
As part of his efforts to ensure that there was sustained development of the farming community in the early 1990s, Archer bought several milking cows, which were distributed to individuals. This insightful individual also initiated dairy milk production to supply Nestlé Limited. He also started a goat-rearing project by cross-breeding South African goats with local ones.
His contribution to the development of Jeffery Town is not only limited to farming. His approach to community development is holistic, and he has brought in several medical teams from overseas to offer free medical check-ups. He also coordinated the official ground-breaking for the Jeffrey Town Health Centre.
Schools and children of farmers also benefited from his philanthropy through the donation of computers and computer desks.
In 2006, Archer started the annual Jeffrey Town Breadfruit Festival and was instrumental in the start-up of the multimedia centre, funded by UNESCO (2008-2009) and was involved in the initial planning of the local community radio station, JET FM 88.9.
Archer was among 65 institutions and individuals who were bestowed with the Prime Minister’s Jamaica 55 Commemorative Medal of Appreciation for service to Agriculture and Civic Development.