Berrysmith Foundation

On the Move

Tuesday, October 22, 2013
On the move

No sitting still this month; in the first week of September we moved the Soil Health Pacific office and are now located close to a farmers market. (1) The office is 3 times bigger than the old office but everything appears to have found a place again and the extra space is used to showcase more of the SHP products. 

At Tapatapao farm we have all been flat out to work on the biggest order so far; stretching our capacity for seedling space. And before this order will be all delivered we are starting to work on the next one.
The weather is moving too I noticed it has become much drier even at Afiamalu being high on the hill where a lot of moisture can be captured, now the lettuce is struggling finding a drop of water. Last month’s 200mm rain seems like a wishful dream at the moment. But the rain season might not be too far away.
In the last weekend of September I travelled to Fiji’s Taveuni Island; the third largest Island of the total 332 Fijian Islands and called the Garden Island as much of the food is produced here. Although the markets have changed very much over the last 40 years, the copra market is hardly there and a good income can now be made from growing taro (dalo in Fijian) and yaqona well known for the kava root & drink. The vegetation in Taveuni appears very similar to Samoa although the soil is not volcanic and the temperature is cooler especially in the evening. 

The Tutu Rural Training Centre (TRTC) at Taveuni have provided for over 40 years non-formal education for rural adults from the province of Cakaudrove, focussing on rural self-employment by using the participants own resources, culture and language. Their programme is now used as an example for other countries with high rural (youth) unemployment. Here a link explaining more about TRTC programmes. 

The TUTU Centre is a little village on its own, with up to 200 people living, working and learning here on 480 hectare and can be very self sufficient, it even has its own hydro electricity supply. I went here to meet with Mike & Cheryl Smith from the Organic Matters Foundation to attend their advanced Soil School together with a group of 25 young farmers in their third year of farming studies at the TRTC.

The Organic Matters Foundation taught a group of women more about companion planting, worm farms and using permaculture principals. And a two days advanced Soil School for the young farmers & me explaining on how to read the results from laboratory soil tests and how to do our own regular testing on the crops with brix, ph and conductivity meters and interpret the outcome before deciding what to feed the crops that day. We made a compost heap and compost tea. 

Although I had done most of this before it was good fun to go through this again, the Fijian way; picking up some of their culture, customs and language and see the excitement of the young farmers learning. I hope they will keep it up and being able to improve their soil and crops, and create a fruitful future for themselves and the people around them.

And before I fly back to Samoa, I would like to give a big VINAKA (thank you!) to Mike & Cheryl Smith from Organic Matters Foundation and Father McVerry s.m. and all the other people of the TUTU Centre for giving me a very inspiring week in Fiji.
Bula! (Greetings) from Fiji.

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