THERE is something that rings loud and true with the saying that "there is no place like home".
For 71-year-old Godfrey Wilden, leaving Fiji to study and work abroad in the 1960s was appropriate at that time as he had dreams to pursue.
"There are seven brothers in the family and we were all born in Suva to a terrific mother that nurtured us so lovingly and taught us the sweet and harsh realities of life," said Godfrey.
Godfrey and his siblings were all educated at Marist Brothers' High School before leaving our shores for greener pastures.
"After completing our studies, some of us decided to stay on and look for employment opportunities."
Godfrey's dreams took him to places like Australia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
"I then returned to Brisbane on an executive position before retiring at 60 years of age," explained Godfrey.
"My wife passed away 10 years ago, so I decided to move back to where I was given a lease of life," smiled Godfrey.
With their family business at Nananu-i-Ra slowly developing, Godfrey decided to move back to Fiji and start his own farm.
"Farming is something that I was also passionate about back in Australia and I decided to try it out in Ra where I am currently residing with my new family," he said.
With his 30 years mataqali lease, Godfrey has been building his own little piece of heaven on seven acres of land.
Godfrey has built a haven for his sheep, goats, pigs and is even doing poultry farming.
"It has been a marathon experience for me as I do not intend to slow down any time soon," he says with a laugh.
The hardworking farmer has also been tending to his vegetable garden which he says is a source of food security.
"There are one million things to do every day and I don't have time to sit around and just laze around.
"From cleaning the pig pens and the chicken shed to pulling out the weeds and shrubs from my vegetable farm, it is always a busy day."
Godfrey is also selling eggs and meat birds from his farm and hopes to soon expand to cater for the growing demand in his area for his poultry products.
He has been producing seven to eight dozens of eggs per day.
"It's quite exciting to see the interest grow and I am just feeling good about my farm and all the achievements so far," he said proudly.
Godfrey is being assisted by his wife's family members on a daily basis but yet his supply still cannot meet the growing demand for his agro-products.
"That is why with the assistance and blessings of the landowners, I would like to expand further and help out as well in the community."
He is also grateful for the continuous visits and technical advice by the Animal and Health Production team of the Department of Agriculture.
"The technical officers have really assisted me in understanding the various methods and techniques of raising animals and I am sure that I will be improving on my numbers in the near future," he smiled confidently.
According to senior agriculture officer (Ra), Petero Mausio, Godfrey is a great example of leadership as well as doing the hard yards.
"He has been confident from the start and he has been a pleasure to work with and this is something that the Department of Agriculture would like to encourage as well with other local farmers in the province of Ra," explained Mausio.
"We have our officers on the ground who are more than willing to assist farmers on whatever farming programs that they are carrying out whether it be crops or livestock."
He said services and assistance were available through the department but certain criteria had to be met.
"That is why it is important for farmers to visit the nearest agriculture office so that they are able to know what is happening and the various services that we can provide."
As for Godfrey, age is not a barrier and he just hopes that other retirees will be able to follow his example.
"Farming is not for the faint hearted and I believe that more can be achieved if more people are actively involved in their farms and not around the tanoa," said Godfrey.
Godfrey says that the excessive yaqona drinking is one of the leading problems among youths in the country today.
"I just hope that village leaders will work harder to try and combat the excessive consumption of kava and preach to its inhabitants that farming is important.
"I am not getting any younger but here I am still working out on my farm come hail, rain or storm and I urge all the youths to do the same," smiled Godfrey. "I gave up the hustle and bustle of city life because I wanted a piece of heaven and now that I have it, I am not giving up."
* Kuini Waqasavou is an information officer at the Ministry of Primary Industries.