Berrysmith Foundation


Thursday, June 06, 2013

Already five months in Samoa, time goes quickly especially when you are busy. The month June will start off with the 51st Independence Day and it looks like it’s going to be a long weekend with lots of celebrations and activities to choose from. The traditional dragon boat races sound very interesting to watch from the sea wall or a concert with either reggae or classic music.According to the dictionary independence means; self government, freedom from the control, influence, support, aid, or the like, of others.

It is what most kids growing up look forward to, only to realise that reality looks different than the dream and as experience learns that to be independent you are still going to need others around you.

Samoa might be a self government for over 50 years, but still a lot of overseas Aid projects are provided here funded by neighbouring countries like Japan, Australia, New Zealand and even the European Union. The last couple of weeks we have been working on a big order from ADRA an organisation that has an aid project to “target 1000 vulnerable households in 6 rural districts in Upolu by promoting sustainable livelihoods and increasing the regular income of participants. It will equip community members to introduce new crops, alongside organic growing methods, and manufacturing techniques for quality handicrafts.”

The role of Soil Health Pacific in this aid project is to provide the training of growing with organic methods on the day of the handout in the village with a total of 500 sets of bags of homemade compost , fertilizers and trays of 200 Chinese cabbage seedlings,

Masinga filling seed trays

and mixed trays with 25 tomato and 25 capsicum seedlings.

For the 10 staff at the Tapatapao farm it has been all hands on deck

Sefu testing fertiliser brew

to complete this order and dealing with several challenges along the way; the biggest one for me is that most of the work is done by hand

Labelling 500 bottles of liquid fertilizer

followed by finding space for the seedlings to grow well before going out. We might as well learn because it is likely that more of these big orders are coming our way. For now it is good to see a full truck to go out in the morning to the villages in need.

Apart from the ADRA order going out, regular tasks on both farms also need to happen and with the dry/ warm weather well and truly here this has its own challenges

Watering Chinese cabbage

again. But I must admit that I don’t miss the New Zealand winter weather at all!

One thing that does surprises me here regularly is that people seeing me as some form of entertainment, especially outside the city Apia; a blond & blue eyed female, who doesn’t mind a fare share of hard work and heavy lifting and getting grubby clothes along the way, apparently is something to talk about (?), I just enjoy the people here and conversations l although my Samoan language is still very limited, but a smile and showing respect is universal.

It is regularly mentioned in the course I’m doing on growing crops organically, that taking the surrounding environment into account even when you are growing only one type of cash crop. For example the bugs I mentioned in the previous blog all have their role and are part of a bigger picture together with the soil, weeds, wild life, weather and other plants growing on your land. Learning about this is as complex as my previous work in social work, but I find that makes it also very interesting.

And with the last truckload leaving the farm,

Loading the truck for delivery

the time has come to reflect, and relax and enjoy the Samoan Independence day celebrations.

Hope you are all well, greetings to you all from Samoa.

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