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Edward Avegalio: Breaking into hydroponics

Pava Farms dba Avegalio Farm Pavaiai, is located in Pavaiai, American Samoa. They are breaking ground in the field of hydroponics in the territory and are in their third year of growing lettuce and tomatoes using a drip vertical stack method. At the helm of this thriving operation is Edward Avegalio, who succeeded his father Vailuu Failautusi Avegalio Sr, retired US Navy, in the family owned and operated enterprise.

Following in the footsteps of his father and two of his  six siblings Edward enlisted in the United States Army in 1988, and is no stranger to hard work and perseverance. He retired after sustaining combat injuries in Operation Desert Shield. In 2001, after working through rehabilitation, Avegalio redesigned his family farm in Pavaiai with help from the American Samoa Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation office. Pava Farms was transformed into an accessible haven where Edward could participate in the daily operation and management of the family farming business. Avegalio Farm Pavaiai is a diversified operation known throughout the island for their Tahitian Papayas and limes.

Thanks to a recent farm loan from Farm Service Agency, Pava Farms is now one of the islands first commercial hydroponic systems producing romaine lettuce, cilantro, basil, parsley and chives. While most of their lettuce is sold to the school lunch program, local restaurants and stores, the family still maintains a small roadside stand in honor of the humble beginnings as a small family operation.

Avegalio, proud husband to Fiatele Porotesano Avegalio and father of three daughters shares "I am a strong advocate of food security. I believe in investing in Agricul-tural practices that work, and I believe that as members of the global community we can all make small efforts to invest in ourselves by growing small gardens to help increase awareness and build back some of our self sufficiency. It's time for us all to “farm boy up”and get dirty experimenting with what kinds of crops we can each contribute for personal use. If we each foster this attitude, just imagine."

Source: USDA Newsletter, reprinted with permission.