Berrysmith Foundation

Settling into a Samoan routine.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Already one month here in Samoa, and still very much enjoying being here. Life appears to get more into a routine now; school holidays are over, and the worst of cyclone Evan seems to be cleaned up. There have been threats of other storms coming this way, but so far they haven’t eventuated. This didn’t mean that preparations were taken to prevent more damage; seedlings were moved to a kitchen protect from wind and rain and 400 bundles of Chinese cabbage was harvested & sold, normal day harvest is around 100 bundles. As for the earthquake and tsunami near the Solomon Islands, there was a warning for a couple of hours, but I haven’t heard of any damage here.

Cyclone Shelter for SeedlingsView to ocean from back yard - Afiamalu

The house where I stay is about 650 meters up from the coast line, so no immediate risk for tsunami.  Instead I presume to expect half of Apia on my doorstep! It seems everywhere has its challenges. In the Netherlands I lived below the sea level, in Auckland amongst 48 volcanos, and my time in Christchurch was riddled with earthquake aftershocks.

Power is back on!

The other week I was nicely surprised to come back to my home at Afiamalu and find 6 men had been chopping trees to clear path for the new power poles & line to be connected to the house. Nice to see that they worked around some valuable native trees. So no more candle light dinners and some cold drinks in the fridge. The repair for the phone/internet connection is still a work in progress. Until this is fixed I travel by car or bus into town for checking my email and often do some shopping on the same trip.

Samoan Local Produce

While searching in several supermarkets I have found some great locally produced products here; avocado oil, beer, coffee, noni juice, chilli sauce and of course coconut oil, and milk , the rainforest honey and Samoa Koko (Cocoa, the raw black stuff!) are my two favourites at the moment.

Other products here on the shelves are often American or from Australia and New Zealand, I think it would be great to see some of these Samoan products exported overseas. So let me know if you want to try something.

Eating healthy is hard work at the moment. There is still a “hungry gap” for locally grown vegetables and especially fruit. Like many others, I’m craving fresh fruit at the moment, what is available is very expensive to buy and often not of a good quality. I tried to substitute with some tinned fruit, but that isn’t the same. From the kitchen window I can see a small banana tree with fruit coming on, which has become my indicator for the new season. And in the garden more beds are prepared for seedlings to be planted. And plants already there are growing again.

Tractor work - Tapatapao

Every Tuesday morning I’m part of the seedling team at the Tapatapao farm; filling up many trays with homemade seed raising mix and putting in a couple hundred seeds. Some are very time consuming; like lettuce or celery, but the round seeds of Chinese cabbage and rocket, can be done 200 at a time with a machine that works a bit like a vacuum cleaner; catching a seed into a little hole on a plate that fits the seed tray, before it is released. When I’m not behind the camera, I have the job of a rousie; lifting the seed trays in and out so that Sefu can put the seeds in, making sure there are enough seeds for the job, covering the trays up with soil (as Helene & Pene are doing in the video) and labelling the planting.

Some of these seedlings are later planted at either Afiamalu or Tapatapao farm, other seedlings are sold to other growers on the Island. Since the cyclone Evan, Soil Health Pacific (SHP) has been working hard on maintaining their relationships with the local farmers rather than just selling them the seedlings, but also teaching them about SHP products for improving their soil conditions; by organizing a workshop to explain that using fertilizer isn’t magically the answer for a good crop, more and more farmers are shown how to observe their soil and give back what it is lacking rather than putting on a random fertilizer, using word of mouth referrals to grow their client base.

Another thing I do miss here is making my own yoghurt; the problem is that there are no dairy farmers on the Island. Soon I hope to try making my coconut yoghurt substitute. More about this and other explorations in the blog next month.

I look forward to reading you comments and questions.

Tofa (Goodbye).

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