DECEMBER 2000 NEWSLETTER
Hi folks. Digby has just completed his second three
month contract in Samoa and we have returned home to Cape Trib for
5 weeks over Christmas to work on the orchard, before returning
to Samoa at the end of January for the final 3 month contract.
The time in Samoa has been interesting with a consolidation
of the progress made in the first 6 month contract. Digby has organised
many workshops on tropical tree care and diversity in villages through
the Women’s Committee network over the last 3 months and now takes
a back seat and leaves the workshop delivery to the local Samoan
staff he has trained – and they do a wonderful job, with all the
teaching in Samoan, and lots of raucous jokes and laughter.
He has had many requests to go and visit individual
farms and provide advice on a variety of topics – and built up good
relationships with local farmers – it has meant he has had the opportunity
to explore the remote nooks and crannies of the two islands, as
many of these farms – or plantations – are well off the beaten track.
The generosity of the Samoans is legendary, and their gifts of fruit
and honey are really appreciated. He has instigated the planting
of orchards in the grounds of the village hospitals, and now the
opportunity is available for free fruit trees to any community organization
who wish to establish an orchard. So the fruit is getting out to
The Samoan Observer – the local newspaper – has published
a series of articles Digby has written about fruit from a local
Samoan perspective, and this has raised his profile, as ‘Digby the
fruit tree man’.
Meanwhile, while we have been away the orchard at
Cape Trib is thriving in the wet conditions – the area has had over
7 metres annual rainfall this year, and the trees have grown markedly.
The main excitement is that our Mangosteens are fruiting for the
first time – about 20 trees have fruit – each tree has up to 30
fruit. The sad news is that they may not be ripe before we have
to return to Samoa. These trees are eleven years old. The capital
city markets are currently paying $100 a tray for the early season
Mangosteens. The Salak palms are also bearing quite a crop for the
first time – of the 1200 plants I would estimate that about 60 palms
have a crop, usually just one or two bunches.
Many of the trees that suffered badly from the cyclone
nearly 2 years ago have now grown so much new vegetation that it
is difficult to believe that they were stripped bare. Some of the
Durians which we pruned back to a stump have now sent up a large
number of new shoots and formed a dense tree canopy.
There are a number of trees fruiting for the first
time – the Keppel from Indonesia, and the Rambai which is hanging
in long strings. There are Jakfruit dropping off trees at all times
of the day with a big splot when they hit the ground, and there
are passionfruit and bananas everywhere, and the abius are loaded
with fruit, including damaged trees from the cyclone which now have
fruit on the new suckers. Two seedling Durian – Montong variety
from Thailand – which we collected as seeds in Bangkok in October
1988 are now fruiting for the first time.
Our caretaking arrangement on the farm did not work
out, and we asked the caretakers to vacate the property. There are
some interesting lessons to be learned from the experience. Our
advice to anyone in a similar situation is to install tenants on
a rental arrangement, and then use the money from the rent to pay
someone to work on the farm, and organise a property manager to
oversee the whole situation.
The tourist season at Cape Trib has been poor this
year – a good time to be away. This has been put down to everyone
heading south to the Olympics. It seems that there are expectations
for a bumper year in 2001. So we are doing our best to complete
our first Bed and Breakfast Cottage in readiness for next July.
The pressure is on, as we already have our first booking – a neighbour’s
mum and dad who are arriving from Scotland in August.
The farm website at www.capetrib.com.au continues
to attract about one thousand people a month, mainly people looking
for information on exotic fruit. We have added a discussion board
to the site so people can ask questions, and it seems to be attracting
some interesting questions.
Some of you may not be aware that we had a major house
fire in July while we were overseas – cause unknown and put down
to spontaneous combustion by the fire inspector. It started in the
carport and most of the farm tools were destroyed including my whippersnipper.
The new whippersnipper is much lighter than the monster which was
burned and is a delight to work with – a stihl – and instead of
plastic cord I can use plastic butterfly wings, which seem to slice
through anything less than 2 cms thick – what joy!
This year has also seen the passing of our loved Rottweiler
Jessie, in June, again while we were overseas. For those of you
who have visited our farm, I am sure that you will remember her
escorting the fruit tasters around the orchard and supervising the
ducks. She was 12 years old, and she arrived on the farm as a new
puppy six months after we did. Her apprentice, Mia has now taken
over full responsibility for guarding. At 2 years old her energy
We are now working flat out in the orchard – the bananas
are so dense that we are having to use the chainsaw to get them
back under control. Hopefully by the time we leave at the end of
January, the orchard will look fantastic and last until we return
That’s all the news we can think of - happy new year
to the 80 people who choose to receive this newsletter and all our
Alison and Digby