Berrysmith Foundation


Friday, July 05, 2013

Over the past six months since I arrived in Samoa, I have learned a great deal about the country, its culture and customs. I’m grateful for my time in Samoa organised by the Berrysmith foundation & Snap Fresh Foods and Soil Health Pacific & Organic Matters foundation and look forward to learn more in the month’s to come.

The coconut is something I have grown a great appreciation for since it has become a part of my daily life here, and in my view certainly deserves the title ‘tree of life’.

Coconut Trees

Some information even suggests that the coconut tree originates from Samoa. The tree’s multiple uses are a great permaculture example. But to keep things safe here one piece of advice; never park your car under a coconut tree!

The coconut is definitely part of the culture here and its uses are intertwined with life itself, from the food they eat to the beverages they drink or can be found in household utensils, furniture, cosmetics and entertainment & ceremonies. And like all the different milk based products each coconut product has a different name, some I know by now but I’m still learning the English & Samoan coconut lingo and uses.

The juice from a green husk coconut/niu has become a favourite cold drink for me especially after a warm day working outside. They are often sold on the street, some cafes & restaurants also have them on their menu.

Cold Coconut Drink

The meat/copra of a brown husk coconut is great to nibble on when you have the munchies. Or to scrap out the flesh and mix it with the milk to make coconut cream / pe’epe’e. Still my favourite for making yoghurt, but also in many other food and drink recipes, such as oka (raw fish dish) en palusami (steamed taro leaves in coconut). Here a link for Samoan recipes;

Coconut oil is considered one of the healthy oils, it claims healing properties far beyond that of any other dietary oil and is extensively used in cooking and traditional medicine. Pacific Islanders consider coconut oil to be the cure for all illness. Coconut oil is also regularly used for cosmetic hair and body treatments.

Coconut Soap & Body Oil

The coconut shells are used in many souvenirs. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time yet to explore my creative skills on the coconuts so at my place after the chickens have eaten the meat, the cleaned out shells are crushed and used for mulch.

It is not only the nut that is usable. The husks for example are used on the farm to protect the soil around the tomato plants. Another use is the charcoal as many people here cook outside on an open fire, or is used in filters for safety masks & cigarettes. The dried leaves are used to make brooms or baskets are woven for caring the coconuts and other products to market. And the trunk can be used for a durable wood.

Coconut Leaf Broom for sale

Currently here in Samoa research is done to use coconuts and husks unsuitable for food purposes to become a bio fuel. Currently the electricity for the island is produced by diesel generators; this is not very sustainable and already very expensive. I look forward to hearing the outcome of this research.

To finish this month’s blog here a trivia/ blond question for you: Which way does a coconut grow in the tree; with the 3 indentations (eyes) facing the trunk/up or down?

Coconuts in the Tree
I look forward to reading your answers. It took me a couple of weeks before a Samoan could give me an answer, as climbing a tree myself is not an option.

I hope you keep healthy, warm & dry and the New Zealand winter is not giving you too much trouble. Warm greetings to you all from Samoa.

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