View On The Grafting Seat

Joshua Humbert

Posted on July 10 2018

Time lapse of Josh grafting (seeding pearl oysters) at Kamoka

Hi everyone, Josh here! I'm fresh back from Kamoka and thought I'd share a little about my trip with you.

This last trip to the farm felt different than past trips. This time I went with the intention of getting as many grafted oysters in the water as possible after not having grafted in a few years (grafters I trained have been doing the job for us). The grafting (seeding of the oysters) is highly specialized work, requiring lots of practice, focus and long hours to master.
Photo by Jesse Horton @hortoncreates
I learned how to graft when I was 21 and did little other than that until around the age of 29. Over the years I trained many (16!) Tahitian grafting technicians, many of them went on to long careers on their own farms or as free agents. This is a great job and everyone I trained excelled at it -- unfortunately many large farms these days hire imported Chinese grafters to cut costs. This takes away crucial Polynesian jobs.
Timi Tehaai was the farm's first employee and was the main grafter at Kamoka until just a couple of years ago when his new life as a father had him turn the page on his 22 years of hard work at Kamoka. He lives nearby and still comes by to see us. When I was there he brought by some papayas and we sent him off with some mangoes.
So this trip was in many ways a return to my roots as a pearl farmer. It requires long days of sitting in a chair and not seeing the sun. A sore neck and back is common so all of these things had me slightly nervous about being "back in the saddle."
Photo by @kerstinapril
Ultimately though, swimming in the lagoon at first light every morning kept my body happy. Working with the oysters again fed my soul. Very little had changed in the experience (except for the glasses that I needed). Now, we have pearls to look forward to next year.

Thank you for your support and for enabling us to do what we love.

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