The Bulaccino Farm

A visionary’s oasis in Nadi’s heart

By Prerna Priyanka

Nestled in the embrace of the Sleeping Giant Mountain range, Bulaccino’s 30-acre farm in Nadi is not just a picturesque scene, but a testament to the vision and dedication of its founder, Eileen Chute.

From fruit orchards to hardwood forests, medicinal plants to a tilapia pond, and a thriving bee farm, the farm is a symphony of nature’s bounty, carefully curated over the years.

Chute’s journey began with a simple desire for a small veggie garden by the Nadi River. As her passion for cultivation grew, so did her ambition. The farm, once overgrown and neglected, became a canvas for Chute’s dreams.

“I saw this place, and it just looked like nobody cared about it. You know, it was bush with bits of cane,” recalls Chute.

The farm’s development unfolded over the years, with Chute’s daughter and son-in-law joining the venture. The commitment to organic practices extends to the Bulaccino café, where surplus produce finds a purpose.

“When we have extra, we sell it through the café because it’s all organic,” Chute shares.

This commitment to sustainability is further emphasised through the integration of livestock like sheep, chicken, and ducks into the farm, creating a holistic ecosystem.

Chute unveils her experimentation with different crops. From mangoes for making jam to the introduction of unique Thai fruits, every element is a testament to her curiosity and love for diverse plant life. She points out plants like tamarind, which she grows for making jam, and introduces a local leaf used for wrapping and frying food in Thai cuisine.

Her personal touch on the farm is evident. From a carefully curated collection of trees to the vibrant colours of flowers, each element reflects her passion for creating a haven for both visitors and the local community.

Beyond its agricultural significance, the farm is an embodiment of family ties. Chute’s son, Dirk, tends to the bees that play a crucial role in enhancing the farm’s productivity. The bees contribute to the pollination of crops and produce exquisite honey, adding a sweet touch to Bulaccino’s offerings.

The farm is an evolving project, transitioning through phases of development. Chute envisions it becoming an attraction for both local and international visitors, seamlessly integrated with the Bulaccino outlets.

Medicinal plants find a place on the farm too, each with its unique story. Chute points out a plant called magic leaf, used for stopping bleeding, revealing its utility in traditional medicine.

The journey wasn’t without challenges. The café had to be relocated multiple times and dry conditions have affected the farm’s productivity. Chute’s determination, however, remains unwavering.

“There’s still so much. The weather has been so dry that it’s really impossible to lose interest,” she remarks, demonstrating the resilience required in farming.

Viliame Matanibuka, a farm companion, and Bulaccino’s head barrister, mentions the upcoming harvest.

“In about two months, we’ll have avocados coming out of our ears, and there’s like five different varieties,” he shares.

Beyond being a thriving agricultural venture, Viliame’s involvement highlights the collaborative effort involved in making the farm a success. The completion of the first phase of development brings the farm closer to integration with Bulaccino outlets.

“The farm is not just about agriculture, it’s a space for community engagement,” said Viliame.

Meanwhile, Chute envisions a nursery and a picnic area, to create a space that fosters connection with nature.

“I keep thinking, ‘What can I do here?’ Otherwise, I’ll just grow trees around and leave it as a nice area for kids when they come out,” she shares.

Chute reflects on her decision to return to Fiji after years of international travel. Her dream of starting a café became a reality in 2006, marking the beginning of Bulaccino’s legacy.

“I always dreamt of having a café. So, I said, ‘I want to go home and start my little café.’ So that’s what I did,” she recounts with a smile.

Bulaccino, now a well-established business with two cafés in Nadi and Suva, has its roots deeply intertwined with the vision of its founder.

For Chute, the Bulaccino Garden Farm is more than just a piece of land populated by crops and animals. It’s a living canvas painted with dedication, love, and a commitment to sustainability. Chute’s journey has turned this once-neglected land into a thriving agricultural haven. As the farm continues to evolve, it stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of those who believe in the transformative power of nature.

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