Updated: Jan 15, 2020
Over the next several weeks, we are excited to spotlight some of our partners and what they do. This week we have the pleasure of introducing you to Cegu Valley Farm, a thriving example of innovative sustainable farming practices.
Deep in the heart of rural mainland Fiji lies Cegu Valley Farm - a 32 acre farm dedicated to developing and refining sustainable farming and agricultural practices and sharing their knowledge and practices with both local Fijian communities and groups/individuals from abroad. Through their long standing partnership with Bridge the Gap, Cegu Valley Farm has been an invaluable educational resource to university students, family groups, and Fijian team members from Vorovoro and Mali Islands.
Cegu Valley Farm is owned and operated by the McCay family. Chuck and Sue McCay, originally from Australia, have called Fiji home for the last 27 years. Their family consists of their 2 adopted Fijian children named Tia and Mitchie, their son-in-law Josh, and Josh’s sister Diviya. Each member of the family plays a vital role in the ongoing success of the farm. When Chuck and Sue purchased the land 10 years ago, sugarcane was the only crop growing on the farm. Farming sugarcane for export is the primary source of income for landowners in this area of Fiji, but it requires large amounts of harmful chemicals and takes up valuable land that could be otherwise used to grow food. The McCay family wanted to prove that through their sustainable farming methods they could generate just as much revenue from the land as farming sugarcane - but by growing nutritious food and raising livestock, all without the use of harmful chemicals. They have met these goals, and continue to develop and refine practices that keep sustainability ideals at the core of all they do.
Each member of the family plays a vital role in the ongoing success of the farm. Chuck is known throughout Fiji as an expert and educator in beekeeping. He is always eager to share his wealth of knowledge with those around him, often suiting up visitors in a bee suit and show them up close and personal how beekeeping works. Sue is the resident gardener and chef - she raises seedlings and manages the growth of vegetables and sandalwood trees, and designs healthy recipes using locally grown foods. Tia and Josh provide invaluable support to Dad and Mum with all the many tasks around the farm - there are never a shortage of jobs to be done. Diviya assists each day between her studies and teaching responsibilities, and Mitchie, who is non-verbal autistic, spends his time helping Dad, immersing himself in nature, and bringing his sweet and positive energy to all aspects of life on the farm.
Cegu Valley Farm’s vision is hard work, fellowship, and simplicity. They reinvest most of what they earn back into the farm or directly into the community to teach and train other Fijian farmers. Common farming practices in Fiji today involve soil degradation and debt which in turn lead to low wages and a seemingly unbreakable cycle of poverty. By teaching farmers improved farming techniques and helping them to diversify their crops, the cycle can be changed. One of the forefront techniques the McCay family is aiming to promote is beekeeping.
In the summer of 2019, students from Auburn University spent 4 days living and learning at Cegu Valley Farm as part of their Sustainability in Action Study Abroad program. During their stay, students experience farm life first hand, and were taught about livestock management, bee farming, and the farm’s sustainable practices.
Following the Sustainability in Action program, several students chose to participate in an extended four-week internship at Cegu. In addition to taking part in daily farm tasks, each student was responsible for an individual project such as designing and building a greenhouse specific to growing cabbage seedlings or clearing trails for livestock.
There are several ways to get involved at Cegu Valley Farm. You can schedule a day excursion, an overnight visit, or an extended internship through a Bridge the Gap program or by contacting Cegu Valley Farm directly. To learn more about Cegu Valley Farm, visit their website.
BTG and Vorovoro consider the McCay’s among our dearest friends, and share in their vision for a more sustainable world. The successes of Cegu Valley Farm are a product of their admirable dedication and a willingness to take risks and work hard, and we look forward to many more years working together toward shared goals of a more sustainable Fiji!