Of all the unforgettable experiences I’ve had during my 65-year business career, one that really stands out is my recent visit to Nick and Daphne Miaoulis’ Neem farm in the Bahamas. Abaco Neem is the only certified organic Neem farm in the world, and I had the pleasure of spending some time there. This trip was a highlight among my 30 years of being a North American Neem researcher.
The Neem tree (Azadirachta indica A. Juss) is a remarkable medicinal plant that has been in use for thousands of years in agriculture and as part of Ayurveda, the world’s oldest botanical medicinal system. The United Nations even declared it “The tree of the 21st Century”. According to the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India, “Neem leaves are used to treat neuromuscular pains and to purify the blood, remove toxins, treat ulcers, and heal insect bites. With its anti-bacterial traits, Neem can heal burns, infections, and skin problems fast. “It destroys those bacteria that pose infections. It boosts the immune system and contributes to fast healing.”
Creating a Healing Garden
When I arrived in the Bahamas, Nick and Daphne welcomed me with open arms. Just ten minutes away, the warm blue waters of the Atlantic and white sandy beaches stretched as far as the eye could see. And if that weren’t enough, my friends treated me to a delicious breakfast each morning, of organic coconut milk and yoghurt with mango, papaya and granola, topped with Neem honey. I decided their certified organic farm would forever remind me of The Garden of Eden.
Over the next few days, Nick and Daphne shared with me how they had created this piece of paradise. It started when Nick was 37 in 1993 and looking for something meaningful to do – something that would make a real difference. Fortunately, with the help of Mr John Conrick, President of the Neem Association, Nick got his chance: he imported 8,000 Neem seeds from India and nurtured them in a makeshift nursery on Marsh Harbour.
His belief that the healing properties of Neem would contribute to healthier plants, people and animals drove him to establish Abaco Neem Farm with the expert advice of veteran farmer Albert Albury. It has been a rewarding journey ever since. Nick’s vision has helped shape the healthcare of his nation – The Bahamas – and continues to benefit humanity each day.
As my friends showed me around the farm, I was inspired by the challenges they had overcome. At first, Nick realized that the soil on the farm was very poor. He remedied this by using seaweed, ash and Neem cake as non-toxic fertilizer which has worked very well for all the trees and plants. Over the next 30 years, Nick and Daphne have transformed this 125-acre property into a thriving business through their hard work and vision.
They care for over 100 different trees and plants including 7,000 Neem trees (pruned yearly by hand!), over 750 coconut palms, a variety of banana trees, avocados, mango, papaya, citronella, moringa, Bismarck, Queen & Royal palms and fig trees, not to mention other plants such as aloe vera, pineapple, hibiscus, jasmine, passion flower, guava, ylang-ylang and native wild orchids, just to name a few!
They’ve also established a working farm with 200 chickens, ducks and wild boar – not to mention colourful roosters! They offer farm-to-table dining as well as tours for university students who want to conduct research. This year they built a Bocce ally, and next year they plan on adding tourist cottages nestled among the flowers, birds and trees. They even have beehives!
Nick and Daphne had a near miss when Hurricane Dorian swept through the Bahamas in September 2019 – one of the biggest to ever hit Marsh Harbour. A lot of the homes and businesses were wiped out and 30% of their Neem trees were destroyed, but they didn’t give up. Their resilience has been incredible. Even though they had tremendous losses, they managed to rebuild and replant their Neem trees.
After many years of hard work, Nick and Daphne realized that they needed extra help. By chance, they met Alok Behera at the RG Royal Hotel in Bangalore, India. He was working at the Global Neem Trade Fair and World Neem Organization Conference they were attending in December 2018. Fortunately, he was eager to join them and has been the Assistant Field Manager on the farm for nine months now. Alok has been a huge help to their daily workload!
Quality Organic Neem Products for Humans, Pets, and Plants
The most incredible and noteworthy products to come out of Abaco Neem Farm are the certified organic handmade herbal Neem personal care products made by Nick, Daphne, and Barbara. Their health care and wellness products are safe and effective for humans and pets as well as homes and gardens.
Even more remarkable is the fact that Nick and Daphne’s certified organic Neem oil is the only one suitable for use internally and therapeutically. Our world would not be able to benefit from such exquisite items if it weren’t for these two dedicated individuals.
Although I was sad to depart from this tropical paradise, it was truly inspiring to spend time with my amazing friends. Nick and Daphne are both multi-talented, entrepreneurial and warm-hearted people. After my visit, I felt so much more energized and alive. No wonder Abaco Neem’s motto is: “Helping the body heal.”
The future of this farm is promising. Apart from being the only certified organic Neem farm in the world, I believe it could become a top Neem Research Centre. Since Neem has so many beneficial uses, I support Nick and Daphne’s vision – we would all like to see the miracle of Neem shared with people everywhere. The farm has the potential to not only provide top quality Neem products to people all over the world, but also to teach people about the many uses and benefits of this amazing tree.
And here are 4 neem videos developed at ABACO Neem farm:
Reprinted with permission of the www.vitalitymagazine.com