Yesterday, over 70 farmers and community members from both Tublay and La Trinidad gathered for Seed School at the Municipal Hall in Tublay. As the room filled with eager and energetic farmers I was overwhelmed with excitement for the launch of this important program.
I attended a similar one-day Seed School in Denver in August, facilitated by our new friends and partners from The Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance (RMSA). While there is far too much information regarding the history and great importance of seeds to share in just one day, RMSA has developed incredible curriculum over the years that they shared with me to adapt to the Philippine farming audience. I am forever grateful to Bill and Belle from RMSA for sharing this knowledge and helping make yesterday’s program a great success. Our big vision is for RMSA to come to the Philippines next fall to conduct more in-depth follow up seed programming with the farmers.
During the program farmers learned the history of seeds, why they are critically important to local bio-diversity preservation, all participants learned to save wet tomato seeds and got to take them home, and they also learned the basics of saving biennial crops (these crops such as carrots and cabbage take two years to flower and produce seeds). While only a handful of farmers said they are currently saving seeds, they all expressed and remember a time not long ago, when their grandparents saved seeds. This means that this indigenous practice is not completely lost and can be restored with the enthusiasm and hard work of these dedicated farmers.
Thanks to the great talent and passion of my host cousin, Chef Aguinaya Cloche (or as we call her Dimples) all participants enjoyed a delicious homemade local organic meal. The menu included: malunggay (local super food plant) pesto pasta, veggie burgers (made w/ tofu and banana blossom), spinach pie, rosemary roasted chicken, eggplant rolls, and a fresh green salad with sprouts and radishes. Farmers here work incredibly hard to produce these amazing veggies but they rarely get to see the diverse ways they can be prepared. It was wonderful to see their smiling faces as they enjoyed this unique, healthy, and amazing meal prepared with love!
After lunch we did small group breakout sessions where participants shared their ideas for future training’s including: bee keeping, mushroom propagation, advanced seed saving in the fields. Farmers also shared the seeds they would like to see available locally and Friends of ENCA Farm will help make this a reality. I was most inspired to see the rooms excitement about starting a local organic seed bank, in fact one group shared that their vision is to see farmers in each Barangay of Tublay producing their own seeds and saving them at the centralized community seed bank. Indeed yesterday was the start to see this big vision become a reality!
In the coming months, we will be conducting follow up meetings with farmers that said they want to be apart of the organic seed trial program. Friends of ENCA Farm will distribute organic seeds to the farmers that meet our requirements, and conduct field trials with these initial seeds to monitor their success and challenges. I am incredibly excited to have planted this first seed in Tublay and look forward to watching it germinate and grow over the course of the coming year! I am honored to work with such a passionate community of farmers all actively working to make this world a better and healthier place starting with each seed they sow!