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A bit of history
The Summit plantation is located near Port Vila, the capital of the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, formerly the New Hebrides. Port Vila is a small modern city accommodating about 20% of the nation's 250,000 population.

Vanuatu comprises a chain of over 100 mountainous, well-watered volcanic islands, predominantly covered by rainforest. The coastal plains have been cleared for plantations of coconuts, cocoa and cattle, and these remain an important source of cash income for traditional villagers, who also cultivate gardens, catch fish and raise chickens and pigs. The first commercial activity with Europeans, about 200 years ago, involved the harvesting and sale of sandalwood. It remains today a significant activity in several islands.

The wild harvest of sandalwood has diminished in Vanuatu and, indeed, throughout the world in the last couple of decades. If the sandalwood industry is to survive in Vanuatu then it is necessary for plantations to be established. Far-sighted Ni-Vanuatu farmers have been planting sandalwood in Tanna for 30 years, in Erromango for 20 years and on Santo and Malekula over the past 10 years. Some of the largest plantations have been established on Efate (where Port Vila is situated), mainly by expatriate growers, with The Summit being by far the largest plantation and in fact is the largest sandalwood plantation in the South Pacific.



Local workers trimming off the sapwood 


Establishing The Summit plantation
Over the years "The Summit" and adjacent land has been used in many commercial ways, including initially as a coconut and cattle plantation and for logging timber. In 1973 a road was constructed on the present alignment and a piggery business established. Following its failure a small tourist operation offered walks in the rain forest and afterwards scones and tea. Also a macadamia plantation was established, only to suffer severe damage in Cyclone Uma in 1989.

In the early 90s the then owner commenced planting timber, including sandalwood and establishing a fruit orchard. He also grew vegetables for sale in Port Vila

When Jim and Lesley Batty took over The Summit in 1998 they started to utilise more of the land. The signature tree variety grown is the local species of sandalwood (Santalum austrocaledonicum). Sandalwood heartwood can be used for carving logs, or distilled into oil by the steam distillation providing a high quality input into perfumes, or as sandalwood powder which is finely ground heartwood and very much in demand for cosmetics and high quality incense.
In 2005 the pace of sandalwood planting was increased so that over 120,000 sandalwood trees are now established. An expansion in the tahitian lime orchard to 3,000 trees, and a new packing shed constructed to meet New Zealand food safety requirements, have been carried out. Plantings of tamanu, nangai and ylang ylang trees, mandarin and tangelo and many shrubs such as vetiver grass, lemongrass and ginger create a mixed plantation of some 160 developed hectares. As you might expect, the honey from The Summit beehives is superb.

In addition, a large tropical garden was commenced in 2000, originally in front of the homestead, then extended along an escarpment with magnificent views of the bay and port area.

The Summit health and body products
The decision to establish The Summit tourism and the essential oils-based manufacturing projects was taken in January 2011. Operations commenced in October. The plantation business has been assisted over the years by overseas investors, and their interests were reorganised in 2012 such that they are now shareholders in the ultimate holding company, South Pacific Sandalwood Holdings Limited.

The Summit's business plan is to grow plants for essential oils, extract the oils by cold pressing or steam distillation and make them into organically pure, therapeutically beneficial products. Such products are gaining popularity in the world today as an alternative or a companion to mainstream medicines, as well as for beauty and body care.

The Summit products are custom designed, manufactured and then packaged and labelled on the premises by The Summit Team. Oils and fragrances are extracted from local coconut (virgin coconut oil is used in quality soaps), sandalwood, tamanu, nangae, lime, ginger, lemongrass, and vetiver grass using cold press and steam distillation processes from raw materials grown at The Summit or from contracted growers in the other islands of Vanuatu.

The Potential for Vanuatu
Over the next few years most aspects of the operations of The Summit will be undertaken by Ni-Vanuatu-owned enterprises, with the owners of these enterprises being trained by The Summit in all aspects of business management, accounting and marketing, and quality control to meet the required standards.

The Summit is proud of what has been created and is now exporting throughout the world PURE health and body products, second to none in therapeutic value, at a price that is competitive with other top grade body products.
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