The Waimakare Forest Farm is the fruition of a childhood dream of Suliana Siwatibau. Suliana was brought up in the village by her maternal grandparents and learnt many traditional farming methods as a pre-schooler working alongside her grandparents in her grandfather’s garden.
“My grandfather used to win prizes in Agricultural shows for his yams and dalo. His garden was always so neat with good straight drains and healthy crops without any artificial fertilizers or pesticides. To treat yam planting materials and keep fungi infestation out he treated them with ash. Not all weeds were removed – some were harvested for vegetables or for snacks.
Both my grandmothers – paternal and maternal – had well established yam gardens with little houses (called lololo) to store the yams after harvest. There were too many to carry home to the village at once. So storing them in the garden meant they could be transported to the village in manageable quantities when needed. No thefts in those days”. – Suliana Siwatibau
After finishing high school in Fiji, Suliana went to New Zealand where she studied Botany at university gaining her masters in Science from Auckland University in 1964. She went on to teach others as a science teacher and then as a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific. As a science educator Suliana continued her research into forestry and non-timber forest products and developed a special interest in traditional medicine.
Over the years Suliana has worked as a consultant to many non-government organisations in matters of environment, forestry and resource management. She has been a key figure in Fiji preserving local knowledge and culture.
It is this knowledge and passion for her culture that makes
the Waimakare Forest Farm special.