Freddie & Heather Mathies, Kimbe


Urban, educated and savvy – Freddy and Heather are the new-age couple who have embraced farming as a lifestyle and found satisfaction in returning to their land. “Yes, it was scary to leave a fancy corporate job”, says Heather. “But if Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of self-sufficiency. The land will still feed us, no matter what.”

Tucked away in the Kumbango oil-palm plantations along the highway, is their farm which houses aromatic cocoa trees and a piggery.

It is the piggery that drew our attention, largely because of the clientele. Instead of being sold in supermarkets and stores, the pigs are an integral part of local customs and ceremonies. As 40-yr-old Freddy says, “In West New Britain, pigs are gifted during ceremonies of initiation, bride price and Haus Krais. People find convenience in coming to a one-stop piggery to pick 15-or so pigs instead of sourcing from the villages.”

The farm is now being upgraded to add more sheds. But the aim is to grow and also make others grow. “Our village farms should see this as a consistent income generator. Why keep only five pigs when you can keep 500.”

For Freddy, farming has been a lifelong passion. He sees this as a solution to the massive unemployment challenge looming over West New Britain. Crime has spiked as the youth find themselves hunting for jobs in a tough economic year. “There is an increase in population, especially the young and restless. You will find them, by the road with their boom boxes, thinking violence is the solution. Go back and till the land – that is the only solution. Become a farmer!”

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