Place To Face – Interview with Linda Schofield of Tamanu Australia
Linda Schofield of Tamanu Australia
Meet Linda Schofield, a nature-loving, kind hearted businesswoman who works directly with Ni-Vanuatu farmers to source our decadent Tamanu Oil and Organic Cacao Butter.
Her company Tamanu Australia is based between NSW and the island of Santo in Vanuatu, where she visits the growers.
The tamanu trees are ancient and native to Vanuatu where they grow abundantly along the beach shores. The Ni-Vanuatu wait to wild harvest the tamanu nuts, after they’ve fallen to the earth. They leave them to cure naturally in the sun prior to collecting and then pressing them for oil.
This is highly unusual, as normally with other nuts, the pressing occurs almost immediately after harvesting to secure the most amount of oil. However Tamanu nuts develop up to half of their oil during this sun curing process, ensuring a higher oil yield for the growers. Did you know that it takes 4 mature trees to produce enough nuts to yield just 20 liters of oil? Hence its expense.
Tamanu Nuts Curing in the Sun
Skin-wise, Tamanu is a wonderfully healing oil. It is used to prevent inflammation, help heal scars and dimish their appearance, and it can be used to prevent blemishes as well as help them heal faster.
Linda Schofield and Cacao Tree
The Cacao Butter Linda sources is thick, rich and grown organically. The aroma of raw cacao is heavenly; exotic rich cocoa, evocative of the islands of the South Pacific. Cacao Butter is packed full of anti-oxidants, particularly vitamin E. This helps to protect skin against the harsh environment by fighting free radicals and helping to strengthen your skin’s natural barrier. Cacao butter also helps reduce the appearance of fine lines, pigmentation and brightens dull, dry skin because it is deeply moisturising and full of nutrients.We hope you’ll love reading all about her story, and what it takes to produce these exquisite ingredients that end up in your hands, and on your skin… enjoy.
Tamanu Tree Cascading into the Water
How long have you been partnering with the Ni-Vanuatu to source Tamanu Oil and Organic Cacao Butter?
I have been sourcing the Tamanu Oil and Organic Cacao Butter from the Ni-Vanuatu for approximately 6 1/2 years now.
What made you want to get into it in the first place. How did it all come about?
On first coming here in 2009, I noticed some very large trees growing wild along the beaches here in Santo. I recognised the leaves and flowers from a botanical watercolour painting I did over 20 years previously. On asking what the tree was, I was informed it was the Tamanu Tree (Calophyllum Inophyllum) I had painted and that it was a traditional medicine for the skin used by the Ni-Vanuatu.
Being a natural therapist I sourced a bottle of the oil and took it back home to Australia for further investigation. The moment I smelt the earthy, rich aroma of the Tamanu Oil, I fell in love with it.
Beach Calophyllum- Tamanu Watercolour by Linda Scofield of Tamanu Australia
Did the Ni-Vanuatu always grow “organically”, or if not, what made them change their ways?
Absolutely, as all indigenous cultures understand the value of growing naturally and in the seasons with nature. To grow with chemicals is a concept not needed or understood.
How many days/weeks/years does it take to get these crops from planting to final product?
The Tamanu are ancient trees that have been here for many years. Once the nuts are collected by the local people it takes from 4-6 months to end up with the cold pressed oil after sun curing for several months before pressing.The cocoa butter is a process in itself with soaking, fermenting and drying the beans before grinding. I am sourcing some fermented cocoa beans myself soon and will be attempting to make my own butter for the Tamanu Balm I make.
Ni-Vanuatu Child and Raw Cacao
How big a part of your everyday life is buying organic?
Well, now that I am spending my life living in Vanuatu, it’s a naturally everyday part of my life, because everything is organic. So many lovely mama’s markets full of fresh produce in season to visit.
What’s the best aspect of your job?
Being able to create a business where I trade with the local people of Vanuatu for their rich, healing produce, and my money is given directly back to them. So right from the source, where the locals pick up the Tamanu nuts for drying, I can have a positive impact on their lives.Also being able to create a market for this truly amazing healing oil. In a world where many skincare products have little integrity, full of chemicals, all about the marketing business hype, the story I have here is one of integrity and connection.
Ni-Vanuatu Lady and Cacao Tree
Have you had any setbacks over the years?
Natural disasters as in Cyclone Pam two years ago, very much slowed the availability of Tamanu Oil. Different sources had to be found, many Tamanu trees were ripped from the ground and the drying nuts lost. Back on track now with a good supply coming through.
What do you personally use your tamanu oil and cacao butter for?
I use it for all my skin care requirements on a daily basis. I still feel luxurious when using them because I know where they are sourced from and how pure and healing they are. It’s like treating myself with the abundance of ingredients from the islands every day, and for that, I am grateful.
The cacoa butter is in the Tamanu Balm that I produce, really adds to the richness of the balm, all those beautiful fats! Not to mention the delicious smell!
Ni-Vanuatu Children Eating Raw Cacao
Which country do you think has the best organic produce and why?
I believe any country where there is still a strong emphasis on growing traditionally, organically, naturally such as in the South Pacific. Indigenous peoples of any country have the wisdom, skills and understanding of how to grow great produce. Their knowledge of traditional medicine is something to be respected and learnt.
Tamanu Nuts – Watercolour by Linda Schofield of Tamanu Australia
If you could inspire others to make one small change for their health and the environment, what would it be?
Pay attention to your diet… eat well and as unprocessed as possible. Use natural products on your skin. Be happy and grateful for this life.
If you could be any animal, what would you be, and why?
I am thinking of a bird, to be able to fly. A bird I feel great love for is the Australian Tawny Frogmouth. They stay as a family forever and are strong and spiritual birds.
Australian Tawny Frogmouth Pair
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us Linda, and for working with such lovely people who produce such incredible raw, native ingredients.
If you would like to experience Tamanu Oil and Organic Cacao Butter for yourself, they are both hand blended into our: