Team GSS is Heading to New Delhi, India for the FAO 9th Governing Body Session for the Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources

Team GSS is Heading to New Delhi, India for the FAO 9th Governing Body Session for the Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources

Thanks to our mentor and strong advocate, Bill McDorman (formerly with the Rocky Mountain Seed Alliance, now at Cornville Seeds) we have been accepted to attend the Food and Agriculture Organization, 9th Governing Body Session on the Treaty for Plant Genetic Resources in New Delhi, India in mid-September.


Our Executive Directors, Sherry Manning and Karen Lee Hizola, and Bill McDorman, will be attending as observers. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to advocate for our small-holder partner farmers and network with the delegations and participants from around the world.
To get updates regarding this visit, make sure to subscribe to our social media accounts.
We are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in this exciting FAO gathering and learn, contribute, and ensure that the voices of the true heros in agriculture are represented, our dedicated partner farmers. At this critical moment in history there has never been a more important time to advocate for the restoration of local food and seed systems.
Sherry Manning

US Executive Director, Global Seed Savers

GSS Seed School Teacher Training  Goes To Lobo, Batangas, Finds New Partner in MABISA

GSS Seed School Teacher Training  Goes To Lobo, Batangas, Finds New Partner in MABISA

Last July 20-21, 2022, our team went to Lobo, Batangas to hold a seed school with a group called MABISA. Efren, our Philippines Program Manager, Elizabeth, our Benguet Field Coordinator, and Karen, our Philippines Executive Director facilitated the workshop. The workshop was attended by 20+ participants from the Mabilog na Bundok at Sawang Organic Producers Association (MABISA-OPA), and students and teachers from the Batangas State University.

Here are a few photos taken during the workshop: 

Why partner with MABISA Group?

Our connection with MABISA begins with our partnership with ABS-CBN Foundation. Back when Gina Lopez was still the director of ABS-CBN Foundation, they implemented some eco-tourism, and livelihood programs in Tublay (an example of this is the Tublay Organic Farming Practitioners Association or TOFPA, wherein some farmers from the Benguet Association of Seed Savers were also members). From that time on, we have been consistently communicating with ABS-CBN Foundation, and they have indicated their interest in bringing our signature workshop in Lobo, Batangas.

MABISA is a community-led organization which was initially organized by ABS-CBN Foundation. Its members belong to Barangays Mabilog and Sawang in Lobo. They currently run the MABISA Eco Farm where people come and visit to learn about various ways of doing agriculture and experience the farm life up close. 

Why is this partnership important to GSSP?

Our vision as an organization is to create “hunger-free and healthy communities with access to sustainable, farmer-produced seeds and food”. We also hope to establish community seed libraries in as many areas in the Philippines as possible.

Finding new partners who recognize the importance of saving native seeds and growing food in a sustainable way helps us grow our impact in the Philippines. Every new partner we find brings our communities a step closer towards food sovereignty.

Lobo is a good place to start spreading our advocacy in the CALABARZON region. The ABS-CBN Foundation has already done the legwork in organizing and empowering MABISA to become stewards of their land. Through our seed school, we hope to complement and enhance agricultural practices. 

Pride Month: Sowing the Seeds of Freedom

Pride Month: Sowing the Seeds of Freedom

Feature Image: Karen, Jenny, and Kiki Krunch at Mt. Cloud. Image from North Luzon Pride at Instagram

Last weekend, my partner and I were invited to be guests of a story-sharing Pride month event. We were honored to have been given the chance to talk about our relationship and how we’re navigating through all the challenges of being an LGBTQ couple in the Philippines. 

At one point in the conversation, I asked if everybody in the audience was out because I was genuinely surprised at the age range. There were children as young as 10 and adults in their 40s or 50s. The answer was interesting because many said that they were only partially out. By that, they meant that they were out to their friends and not to their families or some iteration of that. 


It hit me that I am one of the lucky ones because I am now at a place where I can confidently express who I am without fear of rejection or judgment. Years of self-work and support from family and friends have afforded me that. 

My experiences moving through a sometimes kind and an oftentimes hostile environment for LGBTQIA++ has compelled me to always try to be a safe space for people. Reserving judgment has more benefits that we could automatically just glean from the surface. What happens when we allow people to be fully themselves without fear of criticism almost always creates a beautiful outcome. When we let let people tell their stories through their lens unencumbered by the need to fit in or to please, the space becomes freeing. And freedom, we know from history, is something our ancestors fought for. It is also something we continue to fight for today.

Last March, we launched our seed sovereignty campaign. While the use of the word sovereignty has become more common, the concept is still rather abstract and difficult to define. The closest I’ve come to a direct translation in Filipino is “kasarinlan” which means “to be in control of the self”. It would be very easy to just say it means independence in English but like every language, Filipino has nuances in how it formulates words that just giving a direct translation results in losing some of the depth of the original word. To give a little context, kasarinlan comes from the root word “sarili” which means self. 

This idea of autonomy is similar in every arena. In seed sovereignty, it is fighting to regain control over the growing, saving, and sharing of seeds. In the LGBTQIA++ movements, it is fighting to create safe spaces to just be and fighting to be afforded the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. 

It is so much easier to give up. But that’s me coming from this privileged place of being open about who I am. The hope that someday, the children who were in the audience would not have to struggle and would not need to come out because they’re loved and accepted for who they are is what gives me strength to keep on. Every battle won is like a reassuring hug to my younger self: it’s going to be okay.

Fighting for freedom in the present is holding on to the vision of a better future: a future where kasarinlan is not just an abstract concept but a reality. 


Meet Anjanette, Our New Development Coordinator

Meet Anjanette, Our New Development Coordinator

You all will probably remember Anjanette Wilson as Graduate Fellow for Global Seed Savers. She joined us in that capacity last June 2021.

After completing her Masters in Environmental Management from the Western Colorado University in May 2022, she has now joined GSS as Development Coordinator! As Development Coordinator, Anjanette will work with the GSS Team, donors, and board members to provide logistical coordination and administrative support to implement Global Seed Savers’ donor engagement and fundraising strategies.

Welcome to the team Anjanette! 

Here is Anjanette’s introduction:

“I am THRILLED to share that I’m starting a new position as the Development Coordinator at Global SeedSavers (GSS)! I am feeling both excited and grateful to be able to continue working collaboratively alongside cutting edge nonprofits and community led organizations to address climate justice by supporting on-the-ground food and seed sovereignty operations.

I am also extremely excited to continue strengthening my relationship with the GSS team as I have been with GSS since the spring of 2021 as their Graduate Fellow. My fellowship, a position in joint collaboration between GSS and Western Colorado University’s Master in Environmental Management (MEM) Program, helped me develope my MEM project “Growing Communities, Saving Seeds: Nonprofit Operations and Storytelling of Seed Sovereignty Movements in the Philippines.” I focused on the operational and technical support for GSS as an international organization. A few highlights from my fellowship include the implementation of a donor CRM tool (for a better donor management system), environmental storytelling, and creating impact reports.


I’m truly looking forward to contributing to the global movement of seed saving as a practice for climate resiliency, securing Indigenous rights, and preserving our Filipino culture!

HUGE thanks to Sherry Manning for giving me the opportunity to grow and the courage to break into new roles that shape me into a better environmental activist and professional. And more HUGE thanks to the GSS team for fostering a work culture that cultivates a positive mindset, authentic relationships, and sustainable growth.

Here’s your friendly reminder that when leaders invest in you, your dreams become goals!”

Report on GSS Activities, Some Highlights

Report on GSS Activities, Some Highlights

Quarter 1 of 2022 has barely ended, but Global Seed Savers’ work is already in full swing. It’s as if we were all making up for the 2020 and 2021.

Last March 15, 2022, we conducted the Food Sovereignty Launching in Tublay, Benguet. As part of the campaign, we have also conducted two more workshops: Climate Smart Agriculture in Cebu and a training on Underutilized Legumes in the Cordillera. Aside from these two activities, we also celebrated Earth Day last April 22, 2022 with several farmers from Tublay by giving a short lecture on seed saving.[This article is focused on the first two activities mentioned above. For an update regarding our Earth Day 2022 Celebration read, Reflecting on our Earth Day Celebrations].

Highlights from the Climate Smart Agriculture Workshop

The Climate Smart Agriculture Workshop was conducted last March 23 to 25, 2022 at the Arapal Nature Farms in Cebu. It was facilitated by Farmer Jon Sarmiento from Mindoro, and attended by our partners at CAFEi and the Cebu Seed Savers.

Of the many important topics that was discussed by Farmer Jon, one that had a great impact was the importance of prioritizing food security for the families. He says that food should be locally produced and processed.

That food is essential to societies is no longer debatable. But the pandemic has taught us that disruptions in food supply can happen. Can you imagine how a community that is solely reliant on food imports and has no capacity to produce its own food fared during the pandemic?

But Farmer Jon’s discussion of food security did not just refer to the abundance of food. He also discussed the importance of nutrition security, which enabled him to discuss the many intricacies of food production. He discussed the importance of adhering to Intensified Diversified Organic Farming Systems (IDOFS) and Permaculture and stresses need to adhere to the values and principles that respect the interdependence of nature and human societies.

Beyond the skills of conducting Farm Vulnerability Assessments, and planning for disaster-proof farms, Farmer Jon has also sought to introduce to attendees a new philosophy of farming which offers a good balance between protecting the traditional practices, and promoting innovation.

Highlights from the Seminar on Underutilized Food Legume Species and Development of Specialty Legume-Based Food

This workshop was held last April 8, 2022 in partnership with the Benguet State Education Higher Education Regional Research Center (BSU-HERRC).

Here are some of the highlights of that lecture:

  • Dr. Belinda Tad-awan opened the seminar with a discussion of her research on some of the most underutilized food legumes that can be found in Benguet and the Mountain Province. Some of the species mentioned included cowpea, lima bean, pigeon pea, and rice bean.
  • Hector Gayomba went next to discuss his experiment on various organic seed treatments.
  • Mr. Gayomba’s study found that the most effective seed protectants we can use during seed storage are pulverized madre de cacao leaves and pine wood ash. Meanwhile, the most effective organic materials are coconut juice and extracts from horsetail plant, sunflower, malunggay, papaya, and garlic.
  • The seminar closed with a lecture on processing legumes in order to produce various food products.

    These two events have once again, allowed us to rediscover the reality that there are many ways to achieve food sovereignty in the Philippines. These have also reminded us of our unique role in helping farmers access important information that can help them improve their practice.