Thursday, September 10, 2015

Island Encounters - Oasis Farm

Oasis Farm

Top left to Bottom right: Entering Oasis farm; farm house; tool shed; dorm building.
There are so many aspects to Island Encounters and our adventures in Fiji that it will take a few blogs tell you about all that God did and is doing. As I begin writing I want to focus on the farm and what God is doing through that part of the ministry. This is a key component to the Pittman's vision for ministry in Fiji, both in hosting teams from around the world as well as witnessing to the native Fijians and Indians.

The History:

A few years back the Pittman's acquired this 14 acre plot of land that is currently known as Oasis Farm. When they took over the property it had been used as a sugar cane farm and the main farm house was so run down that their first instinct was to burn it to the ground. Now they have cleaned up and remodeled much of the farm house, built a dorm building and removed all of the sugar cane.

The Ministry:

Island Encounters vision for the farm is multi-faceted. First it serves as a location for teams to come and stay while they are serving and ministering on the island of Fiji. They are able to help in the production and growth of the farm and have a base of operations while they help the Pittman's in other areas of ministry. The farm also serves as a source of income that gives some of the locals work, and eventually will help fund Island Encounters. When you talk to Ray about the farm, though, the vision goes much deeper. He sees it as a place where people of every race and religion can come to learn about farming and build relationships. As Island Encounters continues to develop the farm they see it becoming a place where other farmers can come to learn about methods of farming that are new to Fiji. Then, as they are learning they will build relationships with the Pittman's and others on the farm that will lead to sharing about Jesus. Most of the people of Fiji are either Muslim or Hindu and if you approach them to share about Jesus they will not listen and they will never darken the door of a church. However, if they come to Oasis farm to learn about farming they will experience the Love of Christ through the Pittman's and those that are teaching them. It's about sharing Christ through relationship, not preaching. As it's name describes Oasis Farm is a fertile spot in a desert where water is found, both in the natural and the spiritual.

The Plant Life:

Plants on the farm include mango, coconut, pomegranate,
cactus, lime & passion fruit.

As you walk around the farm you will see many types of trees growing including papaya, mango, coconut, bananas, breadfruit, passion fruit, pomegranate, and limes. They also have a tree there that is called Moringa Oleifera or Moringa Tree. This tree is also known as the Miracle tree because it has so many vitamins and nutrients in the leaves that it is used in many vitamin supplements. It has 7 times the vitamin C of Oranges, 4 times the vitamin A of Carrots, 4 times the Calcium of milk, 3 times the potassium of bananas and 2 times the protein of yogurt.

The Crops:

Sugar Cane is a failing industry. It doesn't produce a lot of money, but many of the locals think that once a field is used to grow the cane it cannot be used to do anything else. The Pittman's vision is to introduce new ways of using the land that was once thought to be able to grow only one thing: sugar cane. Currently they are harvesting Papaya and have now started growing water melon and beans. They also have a small crop of Cassava. This is a woody shrub that is harvested for the root, which is prepared much like we prepare potatoes.

Papaya Farming:

Once  a Papaya tree is planted it takes about 9 months before it will produce a harvest. At that point it will be harvested once a week until the tree stops producing good fruit, which is about 3 years. Island Encounters harvests every Monday and then they take the fruit to the market on Tuesday. In our limited time on the farm Nicole and I were able to participate in 2 harvests, which includes picking, washing and sorting the fruit. Currently, the Papaya trees that are producing are reaching the end of their life. Because of this Ray and Laura, with the help of the Edge team, recently planted a new field that will hopefully be ready to harvest by the time the current field is done.


Another source of income for the farm is the eggs. With just over 30 chickens currently laying everyday they have quite a few eggs to sell at the market every week along with the Papaya. Island Encounters is able to get more for their eggs since their chickens are free-range and are fed papaya and moringa leaves along with their regular chicken feed. The chickens are fed twice a day and the eggs are generally collection 3 times during the day.

From left top to bottom right:
Banana trees; Papaya tree; Moringa Tree; Papaya Orchard; Chickens.


Aquaponics is an innovative type of farming that I had never heard of prior to Island Encounters. It is a self-sustaining system that allows you to farm both fish and vegetables at the same time. In this system the water cycles out of the fish tanks and through the garden beds and then back in to the tanks. As the dirty water (w/fish droppings) cycles through the garden beds, which work as a filter, the plants are able to use what they need and clean the water so that it returns to the fish tanks clean. Currently on Oasis farm the fish that they are growing is Tilapia and the garden beds are growing lettuce. It is still in development, but once it is fully functional all they will have to do is feed the fish and then they will be able to harvest both fish and vegetables.


Recently Island Encounters has ventured into the land of bees. This will serve a dual purpose on the farm. First, they will be able to harvest and sell the honey. And second, the bees will help pollinate all the crops and therefore increase the productivity of the farm. Right now Island Encounter is in the early stages of this venture, but plan on harvesting their first batch of honey in the next few months.

The Van:

The farm van w/ Ste standing next to it.
Now I am very excited to be able to tell you about this part. This is what all of you have been helping raise money for over the last few months. Our goal in this was to raise all the money that was needed to pay off the van so Island Encounters could own it outright. As of yet we have not reached that goal, but we were able to bless Island Encounters with about $2000.00 toward the $5000.00 that was needed. I can't begin to thank you enough for all the generous donations. There are a couple of churches that I want to call out that partnered with us in raising this money - Connection Church of Oregon City, Misseo Dei Fellowship of Oregon City, Oregon Trail Fellowship of Oregon City and City Center Church men's group of Redmond Oregon. Thank you all who donated. As I mentioned we have not yet finished paying off the van and if you would like to help you can go here to make a donation.

The Critters:

Finally, I want to tell you about some of the critters that you will see on the farm. As first step out of your vehicle you will be greeted by the farm dogs. In this picture you will see two of those dogs. They were rescued by the team that was at the farm prior to us being there. In the top left picture you see what they looked like when we got there (they were pretty frail and you could see their ribs) and the bottom right shows how they looked the day we left. In this picture you will also see some of the other animals that we had to watch out for while on the farm. The top right shows a picture of the frogs. Once the sun went down they were everywhere. As you would walk it would seem as if the ground was moving. They have no natural predators, so they thrive and are everywhere. In the bottom left picture you can see some of the red ants. You could find nests like this one scattered around on the farm. Every once in a while when I was working I would start to feel pain in my foot and I would look down and realize I was standing in a nest and my foot was covered in them. They didn't hurt too bad, but were definitely a pain. Also, in this picture you see one of the spiders and gecko's that you could find running around on the farm.

More Information:

If you want more information about Island Encounters and the work they are doing in Fiji you can go to their website - You can also check out or subscribe to their blog - And last but not least, if you want to get involved financially with Island Encounter's to either help us finish paying off their van or to help support them in other areas you can do that here or if you want to support the Pittman family you can do that here.

More views of the farm property.

Stay tuned for more blogs about our adventures in Fiji.

No comments:

Post a Comment