Community Focus – Salt Marsh : Capture-land status hurting craftworkers – Artisans want training centre to be vending destination
The Northern Youth Artisans craftwork school in Salt Marsh, Trelawny, which was viewed as a potential tourism site when it was created in 2009, is swiftly losing that potential and is becoming as obscure as the building that houses the school.
Located along the highway less than three minutes away from the parish capital of Falmouth, the school is open to all who wish to learn the wood-crafting trade, which has been a feature of life in that area since 1941.
But Wesley Nelson, the president of Northern Youth Artisans, is adamant that the untapped potential of the facility as a craft-vending destination must be acknowledged.
“Right around the site there should have been some huts built as shops with different items, but it didn’t get off the ground because the place would have to be a rest stop
to be certified through the Tourism Product Development Company for tourists to come there. So we didn’t get the approval because we had captured the land,” Nelson explained.
“When the (National) Land Agency came here, they realised it was a community-based product, so they gave us a letter to move forward. But when we applied to get J$7 million to complete the project, all we wanted was a timeline to finish, and we were denied by the Land Agency,” said Nelson. “Something good is here that needs to be showcased. We have potential and ambition; we just need a chance to show our talent.”
Maxie Plummer, one of the group’s founding members, said that despite the school’s lack of prominence, people still come to learn about wood-crafting.
“The younger people do other stuff like fishing, masonry, or carpentry, and some of them idle just the same, but people still come here to learn carving. But we kind of need a little more upgrading,” said Plummer.