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Updated: Oct 26, 2021

When we leased our first farm over 20 years ago, we were a couple of kids filled with hope and excitement to be one of the first certified organic producers of pork in Australia. We were like sponges, joining associations, going to courses and reaching out to understand whatever we could to make our business efficient and sustainable.

Our first learnings were the Allan Savory Holistic Management Course. We attended land care field days to learn about ecology. What species of trees should we plant and where? What did we need to do to grow the best pastures for our animals so they ever so efficiently turned that pasture into free-range food?

Attending one of these field days we were invited to look under our feet at the soil. We dug down into the soil and looked at the profile, and could see the management history, compaction and most of all, opportunity. Here our world changed. It was the early 1990’s and we became obsessed with dung beetles, organic matter and ways in which we could improve our pasture to better grow our product, ecology and life.

Learning and evolving

From all the courses we attended (this was the 1990’s) everything we did we learned to have a focus on how we could sustain what we were doing at any given time. How could we sustain our energy? How could we sustain the organic matter in the soil? How could we sustain the growth of the business? At the time we said to each other ‘there has to be a better word than sustain’. We felt that if we sustained (maintaining the status quo at a certain rate and level) then we would always have what we have. Good or bad, you would ‘sustain’ it. For us, there just didn't feel like there was any momentum. No moving forward towards a healthier ecology, but sustaining the one we have. This sat uneasily with us.

As we grew up, older and somewhat wiser, we tuned in to regeneration. From bush regeneration courses to transferring knowledge to our soil and farms. We put a word to what we were doing. We were regenerating.

To regenerate, we grow after loss or damage. We bring new and more vigorous life to an area. Our action with the soil has social impact (improved nutrition, employment and community engagement). We regenerate more than the land.

Vandana Shiva puts it so succinctly when she says “ We cannot just keep moving forward without a focus on what we are doing to our earth, soil, communities and resources around us.”

To focus on the earth, soil, communities and resources around us is regeneration.

At Organic Matters Foundation, when we look to the soil, we see opportunities to regenerate and restore. We see solutions and an abundance of hope. What do you see when you look at your soil right now?

Take a pause, breath, go outside and look down. There are millions of critters carrying the opportunity to regenerate right there.

Read more about what we do.

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When we look back at how Organic Matters Foundation Soil School began, there are a few organisations that come to mind in terms of their support. Those who welcomed us in and not only received our first series of Soil School training but in turn, provided us feedback and helped us to continually improve our program.

As we dive deeper into our stories, we’ll be featuring these organisations that have now outgrown even our wildest imagination!

If you’ve been a follower of Organic Matters Foundation for a while, you’ll know we began our Soil School training on Taveuni Island, Fiji. One of the places on Taveuni where we taught Soil School was Tutu Rural Training Village. Tutu (as it is affectionately known) has a vision “To be Mary, our Lady of Lura in using her soil to provide joy through the development and empowerment of people so that the door to a hopeful future is open to them”. Their mission is to empower their community. To transform lives. They certainly transformed ours.

How Tutu transformed Soil School

Tutu Rural Training Village changed how we taught Soil School. Our years spent within the village, then under the watchful eye of Father Mike McVerry (pictured), was so deeply valuable. We learnt so much about how our training could impact the lives of farmers in the simplest ways. It was here we shared the curriculum to become a part of the Training Village’s own syllabus as they taught farmers resilience and self-responsibility finding their own pathway to earn a regenerative living.

We’re really honoured to be a part of Tutu and feel its deep respect for nature is woven into every aspect of Organic Matters Foundation ethos.

Check out the Tutu Fiji website and enjoy some of the amazing projects this training centre has going on.

Thanks for having us Tutu Rural Training Village. You changed our lives.

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Updated: Oct 12, 2021

Sea Mercy's RISE Program is about creating healthy, self-sustaining and thriving remote island communities. It is achieved through extensive teaching and training of the 'at risk' remote islanders in health care (diet & exercise), soils education (farming techniques), and economic income generating programs that grow naturally and bountifully on most of the remote islands (virgin coconut & dilo oil). For more information on Sea Mercy's RISE Program, or to volunteer on future programs, visit our website at: www.seamercy.org/rise.