The main reason that brings us to Vanuatu is our new business venture, Tanna Farms.
In partnership with Lou & Jason and our Ni-Vanuatu business partner Seth Kaurua, who has worked with us for the past 7 years recruiting our staff, we have set up a Coconut Oil Plant and are contract growing coffee beans for Tanna Coffee.
These businesses are located in Lenakel on Tanna Island, we have strong ties with Tanna as Seth is from there, as are many of our staff.
Coconut Oil Mill - Lenakel, Tanna Island
As we are living in Port Vila Jono spends half his week in Tanna. We have quickly fallen into a routine whereby he goes to Tanna on Monday morning and returns Wednesday evening. It works well as on Thursday and Friday Jono can gather anything the Tanna team team need as he can't buy any supplies on Tanna itself, making this project challenging at times, as well using those two days to work remotely from home on our Vineyard in Blenheim and Vinepower work.
When Jono is in Tanna I think I can safely say that he "roughs" it when it comes to his accommodation...we are talking grass hut stuff with resident rats to keep him company! Jason was therre last week and came back to say that he was never staying there again! There are no restaurants or cafes near where he stays so often he goes without dinner...the upside of this is he is losing weight! The reason he stays here is because it is close to the farm and he doesn't have any transport over there. Jason and I agree that our next purchase needs to be a motorbike so he can at least stay somewhere where there is running water!
It is very exciting how it has all come together, after building the plant and coconut dryers Jono had the team quickly producing oil...of course there has been some trial and error but generally it has gone really well!
Back in Port Vila, Jono and I have been working on our logo and branding, in a previous life we both worked in the graphic design and print industry so this has been fun and exciting for us. Pacific Trade and Invest have been working with us on our project and have assisted us in providing a branding company, Hanga Media based in Auckland these guys have come up with a fantastic brand which we are all very happy with. Next thing to investigate is jars/bottles for the Coconut Oil.
This last week Jono brought home our first bars of soap and Pete, our friend and builder, has built us a still so that we can start making our own essential oils! This is being tested as I write.
Seth mixing our first batch of soap
The coffee is growing! As with grapes coffee takes around 3 years before we get our first crop. In the meantime Jono organised for other crops to be inter-sewn in the rows for selling locally at the market, at the moment we have peanuts, taro, sweet potato, sweet corn and we are also currently growing vetiver grass which is used to make essential oils.
Growing Coffee Plants inter-sewn with Peanuts
Last week Terry Adlington owner of Tanna Coffee had Steve Gianoutsos "Dr Mojo" and Alan Bruce from Mojo visit Vanuatu as they may be interested in buying green beans from Tanna Coffee for roasting in NZ. We briefly meet with them at Tanna Coffee Factory in Port Vila as they had visited our coffee plantation when in Tanna, being ex Wellingtonians we are familiar with their coffee and can highly recommend!
Tanna Coffee Factory
A selection of Coffee Beans
Richard at Tanna Coffee Factory making fantastic coffee!