YoKu Farm, was purchased by Joe & Carolyn Ernst in 2004. In it’s early days it was affectionately called “The Ernst Nut Farm”; as these long-time residents of Vanuatu set about clearing some of the scrub ready for building; but with no clear idea of where this journey would take them.
Joe & Carolyn were looking for an investment towards their retirement, a working superannuation so to speak- farming was in their blood and the dirt was ingrained beneath their fingertips. They’d spent years managing cattle properties, including Elbee Ranch and adjoining La Cressioniere Station (then known as one entity Elcress) as well Undine Bay Plantation during the nineties. However Elcress had been sold, Undine Bay as well, and it was time for a new endeavor…
During the early years Joe & Carolyn raised free range chickens for commercial egg production- however they slowly switched to free range pigs. Their business model leans naturally towards farm gate sales of live pigs- with a focus on improving pig breeding for local conditions.
There are a few stories on how Eden on the River came about, but let’s just say a tourism entreprise seemed like a good idea at the time and we officially opened in April 2013. The next year we opened our Cafe, which was first called the Eden Tea House- and I’m sure it was mainly a way for Carolyn to commercialize her love of purchasing mismatched crockery and china.
In early 2017, I moved back to Vanuatu with my family in tow, to join the Eden Family. I now take care of the social media pages, emails, our website as well as our online distribution channels. Joe is in charge of daily operations of Eden and YoKu Farm and Carolyn is our creative director and curator of new ideas.
In April 2018 our 18 Hole Tropical Mini Golf course was officially opened, an idea hatched on minigolf courses in the Hunter Valley and Rottnest Island, Australia. Of course, we’ve done it our way- zero astroturf!
It has to be said that operating a tourism business is tough going and there have been some hard knocks along the way- Cyclone Pam struck in 2015, just as the business was gaining momemtum, was probably one of the hardest knocks to date; but we were up and running less than 2 weeks later. High cruise ship numbers kept us afloat in the following years, but ship numbers reduced vastly 2018/2019. Nevertheless, we move forward- there are always new opportunities knocking and our guest feedback makes it all worthwhile.
Our Eden Family is composed of the Ernsts, the Ernst-Kellys and our truly wonderful staff who take care of the daily operations. Led by Maria, our longest serving staff member, Eden could not operate without their input and their care & attention to our guests.
Thanks for taking the time to read our history and we hope to see you soon!
Eldest daughter/most favoured child of Joe & Carolyn