Private garden greywater system in Vanuatu

Permaculture course in Vanuatu

Permaculture course in Vanuatu

Tom has come back from Vanuatu with lots of photos and stories to tell! He taught a class of 10 local students, who took the Permaculture Design information back to their villages and projects, to put it into place there. Reports have come back from Vanuatu since the course, that most students are doing great and have started to implement their Permaculture knowledge!

Greywater garden catches shower water
A greywater garden catches the shower water in the village in Vanuatu

Tom went to a beautiful little village on the island of Malakula, where he stayed and was shown around by a local who had done a Permaculture Design Certificate course the year before and had implemented a number of different things like greywater gardens. He has started to make great progress increasing the biomass of the gardens in the village, and has started to grow a number of Permaculture plants.

Abundance of food in Port Vila food growers' market.
The food growers market in Vanuatu, where all food is organically grown and abundant.

The people in Vanuatu are traditional growers, they do not use pesticide, and are unaware that foods that they can now buy in the supermarkets and are imported from overseas, have been grown with the use of pesticide and chemical fertilisers. The food in the markets in Port Vila have all been grown locally and without the use of pesticide or fertiliser. The market food is absolutely abundant.

In the village Tom went to, the kids are taught early to work and contribute to the community. As the video shows, the kids are having a great time singing and playing in the sea, where they are curing freshly cut timbers so they can be used as building material. Rather than seeing this as a chore, they make it fun and games! So different from our culture of screen addicted youngsters that find it hard to do even the simplest chore!

The village has a chief, and a lot of the tasks are done in community. The chief had a chef who cooked for him, and Tom was spoiled to be cooked for by this chef. The food was all locally grown and abundant!

Copra harvesting in Vanuatu
A woman harvests coconut flesh from older coconuts to make copra.

Tom saw how they grew and harvested cacao and coconut (cacao bushes are grown as the understory of the coconut trees). Older coconuts were harvested to make copra, younger ones were harvested for water and flesh (and quickly, these people can race up a coconut tree in no time to get you a beautiful, refreshing drink of coconut water!). The cacao is harvested and dried, and all the produce is then sold on to distributors and manufacturers.

Cacao and coconut grown together
Permaculture layering in natural use in Vanuatu, cacao understory and coconut upperstory, both are harvested, dried and sold.
Drying cacao beans in Vanuatu
Cacao beans are dried after harvesting on big sheets. There is a roof which can be slid over in case of rain.
Drying coconut flesh above a wood fire to make copra
The old coconut flesh is dried above a wood fire to be sold as copra

©2013 Permaculture Research Institute Sunshine Coast – Permaculture course in Vanuatu: village life includes growing and harvesting cacao and coconut.


  1. Hi Zaia,

    I write about rooftop agriculture at and recently leaned that in many countries cacao is dried on rooftops after fermenting. Thank you for capturing this sheet drying technique on your blog! Would it be alright with you to share this photo on my blog for an upcoming post in February? If so, please let me know how you’d like it to be sited.


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