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Soil as a connector

Remembering what we already know

Tei Tei Taveuni

It's difficult to know where to start writing about Tei Tei Taveuni and the teachings, students and friendships built since our first ever Soil School in 2010.

The saying by Margaret Mead comes to mind. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

To say this group of farmers is inspiring is the understatement of the century.

This dynamic small association, with a passion for healthy soil and thirst for knowledge, reached out to us to come to teach a series of Soil Schools, empowering their core farming group to move their practices from high-level use of glyphosate (roundup) towards a more regenerative approach for Taveuni Island, known as the ‘Garden Island of Fiji’.

Our first Soil School was booked for 12 people. During the day though the word got out and the next day our participant numbers doubled in size. Before we knew it, we were teaching back to back Soil Schools, travelling across the whole of Taveuni Island visiting farms of Yagona (Kava), Dalo, mixed vegetables (village gardens) and large pineapple and coconut plantations.

We had our hands filled with soil, our bellies full of nutritional local food and some of the best nights spent at Alan’s B & B listening to locals play their ukulele. There is never a dull moment in Taveuni.

Not only did we teach, share and remember alongside students, we also improved our syllabus contents due to this group. We were constantly challenged by Tei Tei to improve our work, leading us through several versions of the workbook, refining it to Island needs.

We were constantly challenged to improve our work

One of our fondest memories is the many hours spent tramping through the jungle to take a soil sample of remote farms. We were privileged to see such an abundant country and support farmers who were looking for a different approach to farming. They were looking to increase their yields, improve their livelihood and provide for more than themselves, provide for the village as a whole. We were here to support these farmers on their mission to rebuild soil and combat reforestation occurring due to the need for more farmland to meet local and international food markets.

We worked alongside Tei Tei conducting demonstrations evidencing what the change to biological farming meant to the soil. At this time the Island’s Dalo average was 900grams with a reject of 25%. After two seasons of practice change, we recorded a 1.2kg weight with 10% reject.

The Soil was healthier, the plants were healthier. With healthy soils, we begin to grow community. With healthy soils, we improve our health and vitality.

This core group of farmers has taken the base knowledge that Soil School provides on biological soil management in the regenerative framework and studied more, always learning and improving their farms. Living by example.

Check this video out to see how amazing this small island’s farmers are.

Our Soil School begins with an invitation. An invitation to prepare to have your mind and all your learnings so far challenged and Tei Tei Taveuni met us in this invitation.

Actually, they surpassed us.

Organic Matters Foundation sprouted their knowledge. They took the seed and grew an incredible network of farmers who all practice regenerative farming and biological soil management.

THANK YOU TEI TEI. You inspire us to forever change and grow.

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