News Release

Church Partners with Lelu Farmers Association to Build Greenhouses on Kosrae

September 21, 2020 – The islands of the Federated States of Micronesia struggle economically in the best of times, and this is even more true in the era of COVID-19. While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 in the FSM, the country has closed its borders until officials are able to increase their medical preparations for the pandemic. The resulting lack of tourism is hitting people on the islands hard, especially on the small island of Kosrae.


Since 2018, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has partnered with the Lelu Farmers Association on Kosrae to build family greenhouses and to provide grow bags and soil amendments to the recipients. Despite the tropical climate in Kosrae, gardens can be very difficult to grow because of the excessive rain and because the gardens are often overrun by crabs. The greenhouses keep the rain away, and the raised beds keep the crabs at bay.


Kosrae is the smallest and most religious of the Micronesian islands, with the overwhelming majority of Kosraeans being Congregationalists. The Church of Jesus Christ began missionary work on Kosrae in 1985, and it is now an independent Church district with 365 members and two branches in Lelu and Utwa. The island is poor, with a minimum wage for government employees of $1.42 per hour. Nevertheless, the small greenhouses enable families to save money by growing their own vegetables and provide more local vegetables for their dinner tables.


Robert Sigrah, chairman of the Lelu Farmers Association, and his wife Nora initially partnered with the Church to build 10 greenhouses in 2018 and 10 more in 2019. Because of the success of the greenhouses and demand for more, they are building 20 greenhouses in 2020. Sigrah is donating labor and the Church is donating the materials. While serving their mission in Kosrae (2017-2019), Elder and Sister William and Jill Bundy from St. George, Utah were heavily involved in the project, and helped Robert Sigrah build each of the greenhouses and built all of the stands.


This year, the Church provided the Lelu Farmers Association a used Japanese excavator to allow Sigrah to extract rich topsoil, which he has used to restock the greenhouses that were built in the previous two years. Lelu Farmers Association provides to each recipient family, for just $1 membership fee, all the vegetable seedlings they want from two seedling nurseries. Lelu Farmers Association also provides additional grow bags and trellises to recipient families.

The greenhouses have been a rousing success, and recipient families are growing lush gardens. The goal of the project is multifaceted. The greenhouses allow families to grow their own gardens, saving them money. If they grow extra vegetables beyond their needs, they are able to sell the extra vegetables to supplement their income, or give the extra to neighbors. Another goal of the project is to improve the diet of islanders. Since westerners introduced rice and other foods to the islands, diabetes has become the leading cause of death. The family gardens go a long way toward changing their diets and making them healthier.

Lelu Farmers Associatin and the Sigrahs are continuing to move forward with this project. Both Robert and Nora Sigrah are truly dedicated to improving the lives of others on their island. Robert Sigrah said, “Farming is very important, but climate change has made it more difficult. Family gardens help people stay healthy and put food on their table.”

Many families on Kosrae have been blessed by the greenhouses, and the greenhouses keep providing them benefits year after year.

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