By Mark Michael

Fiji’s Anglicans aren’t able to gather for services after a late-April Covid outbreak of the virus’s Indian variant led to a severe lockdown across the island nation. But ministry to those in need continues, as they convert their backyards to vegetable gardens, responding to an appeal from their archbishop, the Most Rev. Fereimi Cama.

At archdeaconry meetings earlier this year, the archbishop, who is one of the Anglican Church in Ateoroa, New Zealand, and Polynesia’s three primates, called on Anglicans to plant gardens to feed the hungry, at a time when food insecurity is rising due to the collapse of the island’s tourism-based economy.

The Rev. Orisi Vuki, the Diocese of Polynesia’s vicar general told Anglican Taonga that almost every Anglican household on the island has responded to the archbishop’s plea. “In Fiji we can plant food crops that mature for harvest in only four weeks’ time,” he said. “So we have planted every kind of vegetable: cabbage, greens, beans, pumpkins and root vegetables, most of which is to share.”

“Archbishop Fereimi has led by example,” Orisi continued. “In his own yard he has dug a garden and has planted yams and kumara (sweet potato) and other vegetables that now he has been able to harvest and share.”

The Rt. Rev. Henry Bull, Bishop of Vanua Levu is using the land around his home to grow food for his family and neighbors, and has also gone hunting for wild boar and fishing, donating his catch to those in need.

“In our community and country at the moment we have started to pray and focus on farming within our context and trying to encourage others to do so. To be resilient we believe it is the way to go now.” Bull wrote.

On his Facebook page, Bull shared photos of long rows of bok choi cabbage, pumpkins and pineapples from his large garden.

He commented on the page, “First crop of cabbage to be dedicated, and we’ve decided to give it to a local pastor of another denomination to strengthen ecumenical partnership as we are really the Body of Christ and God’s church.”