Mormon Newsroom
News Release

Samoan Farm Fair Culminates Year-Long Self Reliance Project

More than 200 members of the Upolu Samoa Malie Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were ready at 6:00 am Saturday morning for the opening of their first-ever “Farm Fair” in downtown Apia. The event was the culmination of a year-long project conceived by Stake President Lyndon Chu Ling to encourage self-reliance, home production and emergency preparedness.

Shoppers passed by more than forty tables set up under the shelter of eight large tents, where the members proudly displayed what they had produced from their own hard work: fresh farm produce; live chickens; garden plants and flowers; homemade clothing, craft and household items; ready-cooked food; and cold niu (young coconuts for drinking).

Last August, while thinking of ways to improve the economic and temporal conditions of his people, President Chu Ling observed, “There is plenty of uncultivated customary (communal) land in our area.”

He organized a stake committee of priesthood leaders to encourage increased home production of food and household items. Those that did not know how would be taught. Those that needed help could be given seeds and plant starts. Raw materials for crafts and household items are found in the forests of Samoa. He asked the bishops to take the lead in their individual congregations.

“We wanted our members to take advantage of their resources, such as the land.  Then when things like the cyclones happen, we are prepared.  We’re starting out small and hope to expand and grow long-term,” said President Chu Ling.  He added, “We discouraged our members from bringing imported goods to the fair.  We wanted only things from the land or the sea, things we have grown or made.”

The Associate Minister of Agriculture, Lenati Tamapua, attended the Fair.  “I came to show my support for the work that has been done.  And also to tell others that the Ministry of Agriculture can help them.  They can come in and apply for assistance.  For example, we have small trees that can be used to start a plantation.”

One ward arranged for each participating family to get ten taro tops (called tiapula in Samoan) to plant in a home garden. Several months later they harvested a crop, but each plant produced lauvai (runners) and more tiapula (to be put back into the garden) for an even larger crop next season.

“We’ve been planning this fair for six months,” said Mouena Elekana, president of the women’s organization in the Levi Branch (congregation).   The women made table cloths, rugs, some clothing and other household items. 

The Levi Branch is one of six congregations, called wards or branches, which make up the Upolu Samoa Malie Stake.

Bishop Lucky Passi of the Faleula First Ward arrived at 5:00 am to set up. “We planted cucumbers, taro, cabbages and eggplants, enough to provide for our families and then extra to sell.  It’s helping our members be self reliant.”

Fofoga Taotua of Faleula Uta came early to play the piano for the music her ward provided at the Farm Fair.  “All the families in the ward provided something to sell, like salad, fruit, BBQ, and pillows.”

Betsyross Tausaga from Faleula Tai was also selling items at the Farm Fair.  “We have avocados and taro and peanuts, egg plants, pumpkins, bananas, papaya, pineapple, lemons, and flowers and plants,” she said.

Vaifoa Lealaitafea recently learned beekeeping during a visit to Hawaii. He received a government grant to set up hives on his land for pollination and honey. “Next year I will be bringing honey to sell at the fair.”

Sister Elaine Rotz, a senior missionary serving in Samoa, said, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members to be self-reliant.  Education, work, thrift, saving, helping others through service, and preparing for unforeseen difficult times are all part of being self-reliant.  They also contribute to our sense of worth and dignity."

 

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