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At work in the Poutasi Gardens (Photographer Tony Callaghan).
The Tindall Foundation’s philanthropy is directed at helping communities throughout New Zealand—but there is one project that has taken our work offshore.
On the southeast coast of the Upolu, the main island in Western Samoa, Poutasi village has mobilised to recover from the devastating September 2009 tsunami. In 2011, paramount chief Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale led the village to set up a preschool and initiated a range of local scoping and capacity-building programmes, under the not-for-profit Poutasi Development Trust (PDT). Soon after, PDT built on our support of these projects to establish the Poutasi Gardens.
Samoa’s growing tourist economy relies on the import of produce like fresh salad greens and herbs from New Zealand to cater for hotels and resorts. The PDT’s garden project can substitute local produce for these catering businesses, helping to reduce their costs at the same time as creating jobs and income for the villagers.
July 2012 witnessed the first sod turned on this new business initiative. Shortly after, New Zealand’s Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA) joined the endeavour and assigned specialist volunteers to assist with selected projects.
“We saw an opportunity with VSA to work with Poutasi, a village that suffered tremendous loss in the tsunami,” recalled volunteers Glenn and Sharyn Cant. The Cants, who had been in Samoa when the tsunami hit, returned in November 2012 to coordinate development of horticulture, marketing and a new art centre.
With Glenn and Sharyn’s guidance, the gardens have developed to employ five full-time workers, four of them women (including the team leader). Additional produce is purchased from more than ten families whom PDT encouraged to create their own gardens.
“In addition The Tindall Foundation has supported PDT by running courses for Recognised Seasonal Employer workers who go to New Zealand to pick apples,” said PDT’s Interim CEO Bruce Russell. Other courses we have financed for the village include financial numeracy, start your own business, and fruit tree propagation for local farmers.
Income earned by the gardens, together with funding from the Civil Society Support Project and other grants, enables PDT to run the preschool and its other community projects. Among these are the art centre and café, and the latest project—a community library supported by Apia Rotary, which is receiving book donations from a wide range of donors.
Now 70% of all Poutasi Gardens income is paid directly to people in the district for services performed or produce purchased; the remainder serves to acquire fertiliser, seeds, fuel and materials. Any profit made by PDT goes to support and improve the Poutasi community and its facilities, infrastructure and environment, leading the village towards self-sufficiency, and further away from its reliance on overseas aid and remittances.
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