Natural Pesticides Research Project: Essential Oils, Extracts and Insecticidal Soap

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Frustrated by the lack of organic farming information, support and products available to Jamaican farmers, we decided to create pesticides based on essential oils and extracts of common Jamaican plants and trees.

We will use the essential oils that we distill on plants in our garden and will test them  against nearby untreated control plots of the same vegetable, recording all of our actions and the results.  Our goal is to know which oil or blend of oils effectively protects these vegetables.  We’ve found that many local  insecticidal plants do not give essential oil when distilled; we will make alcohol extracts out of these plants and test the extracts.

Soap is insecticidal and that it would be a powerful addition to our sprays.  We only have access to commercial soap at this point.  We would like to create our own soap that is designed to be insecticidal, and made with ingredients that we control: edible oils, sodium hydroxide, and water.

Interns will make soap in small batches, and do all the testing in the garden.  We will test our soap against the commercial soap, and will also experiment with adding our essential oils, extracts and other promising additives such as sulphur.  We want to test soap that is made at different pH levels to see what is most effective.

Interns will help to care for the garden and will take part in other activities of the farm as part of a 40 work week.  Past interns have gone to the bamboo forest to gather bamboo for a natural building project, gone to the bat cave to collect guano for use as fertilizer, and after a storm, hauled truckloads of seaweed from a nearby beach to put in our compost pile.

We will do our best to introduce the interns to the town and the people who live here so that the interns can fully experience life in a rural Jamaican town.  Please check out our Internships page, where you can see a slide show with pictures that show more of life here for our interns.  To apply for this internship, please fill out the application and send it to us by email.

We require interns to keep a blog and to write regular blog postings.

Resilience is a helpful quality to have in Jamaica, as things do not always work out as you plan, and you must be able to bounce back, adjust and try again without losing your enthusiasm.  Self-motivation is essential, as our normal life on our farm will demand our energy, and you must be able to work independently once given direction.

We are happy to work with any student interested in obtaining credit for their experience with us, and with students who need to get access to funding through their school to participate.  Room and board is $1,500 per month; this includes housing and three meals a day, lots of snacks and an abundance of fresh fruit.  We recommend a minimum stay of two months, and a maximum stay of one semester or the full summer.

Please contact Agape Adams by email ( or by phone (876-788-5154 or 876-343-1121) for more information.

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