RISE - Remote Island Soils Education


  • To awake from sleep or return from the dead
  • To increase in fervor or intensity
  • To increase in amount, extent, size or number
  • To move from a lower position to a higher one

The above Webster’s definitions for the word ‘Rise’ reflects the goals and purpose behind Sea Mercy’s Remote Island Soils Education (RISE) program for the thousands of remote islands of the South Pacific.

“For any health, self-sustainable or economic development related program in the South Pacific to succeed, it must start with soils training.”

Mike Smith, Organic Matters

The above quote is the key lesson Sea Mercy has learned when it comes to building Self Sustaining & Thriving Communities in the South Pacific. Mike Smith has spent the last 10+ years teaching, training and demonstrating to the leadership and communities of the South Pacific island nations that there are no shortcuts or quick fixes to achieve the above. It starts with Soils Training and only then can you build a successful health, economic, and education program around it.

Sea Mercy not only fully embraces that philosophy; we have partnered with Mike Smith and his team from Organic Matters Foundation to help restore hope and a future to the thousands of remote islands across the South Pacific. Islands and communities who in the pursuit of western social, agricultural and economic shortcuts, have turned away from or forgotten ‘their old ways’ and are now feeling the effects. Unproductive lands (nutrient depletion), failing health (diabetes) due to poor diet that relies more on processed foods than food grown locally, and an increasing exodus of their youth and talent to the primary islands for employment and income opportunities.

In 2017, Sea Mercy will be providing a comprehensive 4-week RISE Volunteer Opportunities for the remote island of Batiki located in the Lomaiviti Island Group of Fiji. Devastated by Cyclone Winston in 2016, there has never been a better opportunity and willingness of the people to ‘return to their roots’ and restore hope and a future.

This RISE program (and the Farm Tools Program) for the villagers has been made possible by the incredible donation of $25,000 (US) to Sea Mercy from Generation Strategies Foundation (Austin, TX). Sea Mercy’s goal will be to raise additional funds for the six additional programs that are crucial to the future of Batiki; Health Impact Research Study, Irrigation Support, Economic Development, Sports & Exercise, Aquaponics, and Channel Passage Markers into their lagoons that will help launch them forward into becoming thriving communities.

2017 Batiki Programs

    4-week Comprehensive Soils Training & Implementation Program

    Comprehensive classroom and hands-on training for 30 farmers from the four villages on Batiki over a 4 week period.

    • 4-day Site Survey (February)
    • 4-day Introductory Training (August 8th-11th)
    • 2-week Land Preparation Period for Farmers (August 12th-27th)
    • 4-day Advanced Training Program (August 28th-31st)
    • 2-week Full Soils Implementation Program (September 1st-September 14th)

    Complete Set of Farming Tools for each Student Program

    Provide each soils training student with the farming tools they need to effectively develop and maintain their farm

    • Shovel, hoe, rake, pitchfork for each farmer
    • Fuel transportation costs to deliver from Suva to Batiki

    Health Impact Research Study

    With one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world and the leading killer across the South Pacific, we believe the RISE program gives us an incredible opportunity to track the impact that healthy diet and exercise can have on a population. As a secluded remote island, Batiki gives us a unique controlled environment opportunity (minimal outside influence on the data) and an excellent case study group (population) to create a powerful and long-term Health Impact Research Study program around.

    • A1C testing of all 'at risk' villagers (over a 5+ year timeline) that will track the impact the RISE Program had on their lives of the 300+ people living on Batiki.
    • Pre- and post diet, physical and emotional health evaluations and lifestyle changes (exercise) resulting from the program
    • Documenting and tracking the results of replacing many of their currently available food groups (purchased processed foods) with locally grown and organic healthy foods

    Irrigation Support Program

    When irrigation sources are limited, developing a water catchment and distribution process for community farms located away from irrigation access is vital.

    • Water Irrigation Tanks - 5,000 liter water tanks for each farm location (8)
    • Water Catchment, guttering and pipes for local water tanks (8 small catchment structures)
    • Water hose for gravity fed irrigation (100 meter x 8)
    • Fuel transportation costs to deliver from Suva to Batiki

    Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) & Dilo Oil Production Program

    Providing the islanders with the clean room environments and equipment they need to professionally convert naturally growing and self-sustaining crops (coconuts and dilo nuts) into a valuable income opportunity for the islanders to sell. We have partnered with Bula Batiki who will help train and build the market for their Virgin Coconut and Dilo Oil, reinvesting their proceeds into the existing and future remote islands production programs.

    • Virgin Coconut Oil Equipment (clean room, scraper, press and storage containers)
    • Dilo Oil Equipment (drying shed, press and storage containers)
    • Fuel transport costs to deliver from Suva to Batiki

    Channel Passage Marking Program

    There are two unmarked passages into the two inner lagoons of Batiki that are currently very dangerous, or impossible for vessels to enter. Without such markings, yachts and barges will not stop at the island, resulting in a loss of potential buyers of agricultural produce and income products grown and produced by the villages.

    • Coral head and depth markers, safe anchorage buoys for access to Yavu and Mua villages
    • Coral head markers and safe anchorage buoys to access Naigani village
    • Fuel transport costs to deliver and install above items from Suva

    Aquaponics Farming Training & Equipment Program

    With limited access to needed irrigation during the 5-month dry season, aquaponic based farms utilize less than 10% of the water needed by traditional farms. We believe this program provides an incredible opportunity for remote villages and depleted soil (coral based) atolls to still operate self-sustaining and healthy gardens.

    • Aquaponics training program
    • Base level aquaponics system (planting beds, fish tanks, solar equipment, batteries and seeds/starters)
    • Fuel transport costs to deliver and install above items from Suva

    Sports & Exercise Program (school and adult programs)

    Exercise and athletic programs are an important part of any healthy community, not only physically, but mentally too. Rugby, Netball, Soccer, Volleyball, and Cricket are all sports that are loved by Fijians. The challenge is having the equipment and courts in place to support the school and adult teams. Our goal with this program is to provide a common sport that can be played by all the villagers (young and old), encourage exercise and activity and can help unify the villages and create community. We believe Volleyball is the common sport and exercise program that can create the added personal drive and incentive for all the villagers to get and stay healthy and in shape.

    • Sports & Exercise program
    • Metal/permanent Volleyball poles, lines and nets for each village (4)
    • 2 volleyballs for each village (8 volleyballs)
    • Four week team building (each village) and island sports tournament at the end of the 4 week training

Make a Donation Today!

100% of your donation goes to the programs (no salaries are paid for this program), so every donation amount will go a long ways in helping us get closer to funding all the remaining programs. Below is a secure and simple online donation method (PayPal, Credit Card, or Bank Check), or you can send us a check to: Sea Mercy, 25075 West Demming Road, Elmira, OR 97437.

Become a RISE Program Volunteer!

As you can see, there are plenty of internship and volunteer opportunities available for almost anyone to participate in. Whether it is for one or two weeks, or the entire 4 week program, we invite you to join us for an incredible time. With Mike’s support and encouragement, we will be training key Sea Mercy staff, volunteers and captains on how to lead future RISE Training Programs for the people of the South Pacific. If interested, please go online to the RISE Program Volunteer Registration page today.

We believe this 2017 Sea Mercy RISE Program lays the successful groundwork and future for the 300+ people living on the remote island of Batiki. It also empowers our Sea Mercy captains and volunteers who desire to “sail with a greater purpose” with the tools and training they need to make a difference wherever they drop anchor or visit in the South Pacific.

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