Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

It All Starts with Healthier Soil; Mororo Farmers Mike and Cheryl Smith Are on a Mission to Teach Others That

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

It All Starts with Healthier Soil; Mororo Farmers Mike and Cheryl Smith Are on a Mission to Teach Others That

Article excerpt

Byline: KATEMATTHEWS kate.matthews@dailyexaminer.com.au

INSPIRED by a mutual passion for organic farming, Clarence Valley couple Mike and Cheryl Smith have devoted themselves to helping farmers in the South Pacific to build strong, resilient and sustainable communities.

Two years ago the pair relocated to Samoa to establish the Organic Matters Foundation, a not-for-profit enterprise aimed at empowering Pacific Islanders through education and practical, hands-on skills.

aEssentially itas agriculture from a biological perspective... teaching farmers about sustainability as well as looking at what added chemicals do to the soil,a said Mike.

He describes it as agrass roots educationa.

aSoil School is the keystone to the Organic Matters Foundation,a Mike said.

aIt teaches resilience and self- sufficiency in a practical way.a

Once the basics are covered, students are instructed on techniques to improve the soil using locally available and low-chemical options.

aItas a three-step process a educate, innovate and generate.

aOur goal is to make ourselves redundant as local networks take over and come into effect.a

Partly funded by the United Nations development program, the program has already put more than 300 farmers in Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga through the Soil School Training course in soil biology, adapting existing traditional farming knowledge and enhancing it with a scientific approach.

aWe have been working with Southern Cross University in Lismore. Part of the program involves soil testing and once the results come back, thatas when the real engagement happens,a he said. …

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