March 31, 2016

The Papuan gardeners using their onions

vanilla vine papua new guinea

Onion and vanilla are two flavours you’d never want to find together. But in Papua New Guinea they are natural bedfellows.

Vanilla plants grow like vines and are best when they’re supported by “host” trees. These trees serve a double purpose as their branches and leaves provide dappled shade from the harsh tropical sun, making perfect growing conditions for other crops, like onions.

This intercropping is a great way to use land that isn’t forested. Near to Gadaisu village there are areas of grassland and the community have decided to use Cool Earth funds to start planting vanilla and onion crops in this way.

It’s a good time to do it. The government is supporting onion growing and a shortage of vanilla means it’s a potentially high value crop. The tree saplings have already been planted and the vanilla vines can be planted in the summer.

So whilst onion and vanilla ice cream is unlikely to be hitting the shelves any time soon, we’re hoping this combination will mean higher incomes (and more veg) for families in our Milne Bay partnership.


  • Lisa Kern says:

    Hello, my name is Lisa Kern. My daughter started an earth day celebration called Earth Extravaganza in 2015. The proceeds are donated to your organization. 2015 was for Ashaninka and 2016 for Lubutu. She has raised $1,000.00 U.S. dollars each of the last two years. The funds had been delayed in being sent but for the 2015 fundraiser I sent the money in the mail. This recent $1,000.00 online donation was for the 2016 celebration. I was wondering if she could get a certificate to display at this year’s fundraiser being held April 22nd.
    Thank you for your help.
    Lisa Kern

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