… a beautiful Central Pacific island nation, but one of the most vulnerable to climate change.
With a population of 11,000 people, and a land area of 26 square kilometres, Tuvalu is the fourth smallest country in the world. It is also extremely low-lying: having an average elevation of just 1.83 metres above the sea.
For many Tuvaluans, growing food is difficult.
Seawater inundation & lack of nutrition
During high tide, saltwater seeps up from under the ground and contaminates our arable soil. This makes growing vegetables on the ground almost impossible. Moreover, this problem will only intensify as sea levels continue to rise due to the causes of climate change.
As a consequence of our limited produce, Tuvaluans have become heavily reliant on imported canned goods, many of which are lacking in nutrition. A 2016 national bio-diversity report shows that there is stunting amongst Tuvaluan children:
"... although there is no stark poverty and hunger as found in some countries, there are serious issues related to food security and food dependency, sustainable agriculture and fishing, and the increasingly serious levels of malnutrition and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases that are strongly linked to a shift from diets based on nutritious local foods to a dominance by nutritionally inferior imported foods and drinks. This is particularly serious on Funafuti where recent surveys show that from 20—30% of female and male children suffer from malnutrition induced stunted growth ..." (Thaman et al., 2016, p. 45)
A B O U T G R O W I N G T A L L
Growing Tall is a Tuvalu-registered social enterprise focussed on importing and setting up vertical farms in Tuvalu. Our goal is to empower Tuvaluans to grow fresh vegetables in their backyards and in their communities using vertical farms. We want to help strengthen food security, promote better eating habits, and improve overall health within the country.
We first started in 2016 when applying to 'Launch Food', drawing attention to the challenges that Tuvalu faces. Launch Food was a global food challenge organised by US Aid and Australia’s Department of Foreign Aid and Trade (DFAT). In our application, Growing Tall highlighted the need to bring vertical farming to Tuvalu.
The outcome was a successful partnership with BioFilta - a Melbourne-based company - on a DFAT-funded trial of their vertical farming technology in Tuvalu. Since then, BioFilta, DFAT, and Growing Tall have been working together to import and set up vertical farms in the nation’s capital of Funafuti. The trial began in June 2018 and is scheduled to end in April 2019.
Vertical farming is the practice of growing food on vertically stacked layers. It is a way of growing food above ground, away from saltwater contamination. We believe that this is the perfect adaptive solution to Tuvalu’s seawater inundation problem.
In 2018, Growing Tall imported 400 BioFilta 'FoodWall' tubs which were used to set up 48 home garden systems and 6 larger community garden systems at the Princess Margaret Hospital, Tuvalu Red Cross, Fetuvalu High School, Nauti Primary School, Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, and the University of the South Pacific.
In total, these systems have the potential of producing 1,600 kilograms of fresh vegetables a year. Each of these sites is monitored regularly by Growing Tall in conjunction with Tuvalu’s Agricultural department.
So far, the results have been very encouraging with growing public demand for more systems to be installed. Part of the FoodWall's appeal is its simplicity. All that is required is soil, water and planting material. In a small country like Tuvalu word gets around fast! Regular discussion on National Radio has helped get the message out.
Growing Tall’s aim is to expand the programme to reach all of Tuvalu’s 9 islands. With approximately 2,000 households and numerous other community sites; there is potential to produce an annual total of between 40 and 50 tons of fresh vegetables every year.
6 Community Gardens
We prioritised schools and hospitals so that children and patients have better access to vegetables.
48 Home Gardens
48 home gardens were set up across Funafuti. Supporting the local gardeners to grow fresh vegetables.
1,600 kgs of Vegetables
Our current sites have a combined potential of producing 1,600 kgs of fresh vegetables each year.
Your support is important to our work at Growing Tall. Already we have four international partners for which we are very grateful: Climates, BioFilta, DFAT, and Launch Food. If you wish to partner with us, feel free to contact us directly below. Individuals may also support the programme through donations no matter how big or small. All donations will go towards improving Tuvalu's ability to grow food.
The future of Growing Tall is to expand to the outer islands of Tuvalu. You can help us get there.
You can help Tuvalu grow tall.