Renewable Energy and Organic Gardening on Taveuni
Over the weekend, we headed north to visit Nakia Resort, owned by Jim and Robin Kelly. We've been eager to check out Nakia, as it is an eco-resort that employs sustainable practices that we’d love to see more of in Fiji. Jim was kind enough to give us a tour focusing on their renewable energy system and their organic garden.
Like most of Fiji, Taveuni is off the grid, leaving most resorts to rely on diesel generators for energy. Nakia Resort runs on renewable energy- a combination of hydro, solar and wind energy. They maintain back up generators in case the system goes down; however, they are usually able to supply 100% of the resort's power using their hybrid renewable system.
Jim Kelly is self-taught on this subject; he learned the ins and outs so that he could be a thoughtful consumer and employ the best practices. He showed us his hybrid system and shared some of the lessons he learned and challenges he faced. Since diesel generators have been a standard, he pioneered these systems on Taveuni.
The property includes four bures, the owners' home, and the main complex and restaurant. Nakia uses fans rather than air conditioning, further reducing the energy demand.
The hydro electric system is Nakia’s biggest energy producer, providing roughly 75% of all of the resort’s energy.
Their rooftop solar PV system is the second biggest energy provider. Nakia has one wind generator with a capacity of 1,000 watts, and this provides the least amount of energy.
They store the energy in a 48-volt battery system, and convert the stored energy to 240 volts using a 5,000 watt invertor that receives and tracks the incoming power.
Jim also gave us a tour of their beautiful organic farm. They are growing a variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs organically: including lettuce, tomatoes, a variety of beans, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, tapioca, squash, papaya, watermelon, basil, parsley, and much more.
They keep a small herb garden outside of the kitchen and a large garden out back. The large garden is terraced and includes a sprinkler system. At the bottom, they have a compost heap with a chipper. When they started the garden, they sprayed Neem oil to prevent insects and fungus. However, Jim has found they haven't needed it since and have not used it in about 8 years. Now they rely on traditional practices of crop rotation, composting, and plant pairing.
Tavenui is known as the garden island of Fiji because of its rich volcanic soil. Yet, many farmers today rely heavily on the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides. Jim gives tours of their organic garden to students from the local schools; he tells the students that he did not invent these methods, and that their grandparents farmed this way.
We also got to peak in the stunning kitchen which is the perfect complement to the garden.
We’re so glad we were able to check out Nakia before we left. The visit left us feeling inspired and hopeful for the future of Fiji’s land and tourism.