Berrysmith Foundation

A new beginning in Samoa.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Thank you for your interest in visiting this blog to read about my experiences living in Samoa and exploring the organic lifestyle here while working the coming year for Soil Health Pacific and the Organic Matters Foundation.

I am in Samoa is because I’m selected for an Organic Cadetship for practical biological horticulture training in Samoa under Organic Matters Foundation and Soil Health Pacific, sponsored by Snap Fresh Foods in New Zealand who grow and manufacture salads, sprouts, baby carrot, and salad dressings products sold nationwide.

Soil Health Pacific grow a wide range of vegies, herbs & spices including lettuce, cabbage, beans, cucumber, tomato, capsicum and corn, parsley, dill, ginger and turmeric for the local market and together with the Organic Matters Foundation train growers on how to improve their soil condition with locally made organic compost and fertilizers. For the coming months I’m going to work and learn alongside them.

Locally made compost

On Wednesday 16th January 2013 I finally arrived in Western Samoa on the Island Upolu where I’m currently staying near Apia. I would like to give BIG THANK YOU! to Helene & Moe for looking after me after my arrival helping me settle in.

It is the wet season at the moment and last month cyclone Evan dropped in for a visit for a couple of hours and left significant damage, still noticeable today.

The old farm house where I’m living is still standing but six weeks after the cyclone it still has no electricity! We are told that we are first on the list for repairs and some broken windows.

My New Home at Afiamalu
My new home at Afiamalu

The tunnel house in the garden has severe damage and needs to be replaced. There was also lots of damage to crops that couldn’t be recovered, meaning a gap in the production and income or for the flying foxes to come out looking for food in daytime. The farm managers house on the second property is destroyed by the cyclone leaving the farm managers family of 6 to camp in shipping containers on site.

Broken Tunnel House


Farm manager’s house at Tapatapao

Trees all over the island have broken branches and no leaves in the top, several local people have pointed out to me that they can’t remember being able to see the landscape as they can do now because it is always blocked by tree foliage. For the people who have been to Samoa, Aggie Gray's Hotel is still closed and many properties on the river side have severe damage by the flood or have already been demolished.

It feels a bit similar to last year, when I was living in Christchurch where life goes on after the earthquakes but it is not the same as before.

I have been told that it’s only in recent years veggies are grown in Samoa. Daily I enjoy eating some of the Samoan traditional produce such as bananas, taro, breadfruit, pawpaw and pineapple and coconut.

Apart from learning how to grow veggies in this climate I also will look forward on getting to know Samoan people and their culture and finding my own way in this. In all my travels this takes a lot of energy, but getting an understanding is what I most enjoy learning.

The couple of days I have been here has given me a picture I would like to compare to a ‘wasgij’ puzzle, there is so much happening in one frame that it will take a while before you see what it all means and then it turns out its from another angle, then what you first presume you saw.

Some of my experiences from the last couple of days: the people are treating me nicely. But I don’t understand much of the Samoan spoken/written language yet. The mosquitoes like me as well; I lost count on the number of bites I have received. Lucky they are not as itchy as the NZ sand flies!

Although it sometimes rains heavily, it’s on average 26° C year round and it feels like being in a glasshouse.

Things happen here at a slower pace. The maximum speed on the road is around 40km, driving in Apia can still look chaotic with cars tooting and not indicating. Even though Samoa changed to driving on the left in 2009, some cars still have their steering wheel on the left, making it very confusing. Although I have bought my temporary Samoan drivers licence but I don’t feel confident as yet to mix myself into that. The busses are very basic with wooden floors & seats but they make up for it being very colourful.

Footpaths are not always available and I’m advised to take an umbrella/stick to prevent that I become a dog’s tucker. Many dogs & cats appear to have a very hard and often hungry life here.

Although Soil Health Pacific trained around 400 farmers in Samoa last year, so far I have found it hard to find their produce as the supermarkets mainly sell processed food. This will hopefully change over the next years with an announcement last week from the Samoan parliament to become an organic nation. I hope to tell you more about this next time.

©2015 Berrysmith Foundation | Terms & Conditions | Security Policy