Blossoming Opportunities: Exploring Seed Production Potential at Oikos Orchard and Farm

Blossoming Opportunities: Exploring Seed Production Potential at Oikos Orchard and Farm

The recent farm visit to Oikos Orchard and Farm was an enriching experience, with several key partners involved in the endeavor, including Mr. Bernard Restificar, the farm owner, Aurora Perez, and Sweetie Maurillo from Slow Food Sugbo, and Harry Paulino from Global Seed Savers (GSS). The visit had several noteworthy outputs that shed light on the farm’s potential for seed production and collaboration with GSS.

The visit commenced with an orientation by Mr. Restificar, who introduced the group to the 3.5-hectare farm, unveiling the actual farm plan and design. A comprehensive farm tour followed, allowing GSS members to explore the farm’s facilities and amenities, the impressive Miyawaki forest farm, 1,700 native tree seedlings, food forest, vegetable farm, and an animal farm. It was an eye-opening experience that showcased the farm’s commitment to sustainable and organic agriculture.

A delicious and hearty lunch prepared by the owner himself provided an opportunity for the group to connect over a shared love for agriculture. Afterward, the team ventured around the farm to assess the proposed seed production site. The site, spanning 1,000 to 1,500 square meters within Oikos Farm, came with the essential infrastructure of water pump connections and electrical supply. The farm even boasted advanced technology like Starlink satellite internet and reliable 4G and 5G data connectivity despite its 300-meter elevation and 15-kilometer distance from the main national road.

What made this visit particularly exciting was the farm’s transition from conventional to organic farming, with 20% of the farm already engaged in organic growing. Mr. Restificar highlighted that this shift was essential to sustain the livelihood of 13 farm staff, including a licensed agriculturist. The farm also takes pride in nurturing 1,700 native tree seedlings, showcasing more than a hundred varieties, and is on its way to becoming an accredited extension learning site of the Agricultural Training Institute.

Oikos Farm’s readiness to accommodate GSS for seed production training and related activities signifies a strong foundation for collaboration. Mr. Restificar’s role as the Board Chairperson of Cebu Farmers Market further strengthens the potential partnership. Establishing a seed production site in this picturesque location not only benefits both GSS and Oikos but also adds to Oikos’ appeal as an agri-tourism destination. It creates a symbiotic relationship that contributes to Oikos’ organic growing agenda and supplies native tree seeds for an integrated and regenerative agroecology farm. This venture can significantly advance the production of open-pollinated varieties (OPV), heirloom seeds, native tree seeds, and ornamental/flowering seeds. The proposed site’s panoramic view of Cebu South and Bohol Island and convenient road access further add to its allure.

For GSS to establish seed production in the allocated space, negotiations and formal contracts will be essential, ensuring a long-term commitment ranging from 10 to 25 years. The owner’s generous offer of free space use must be clarified to secure the partnership’s longevity. Additionally, considering the seed production as part of Oikos’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) may help in reducing tax dues, further enhancing the collaboration’s viability. The possibility of mobilizing Oikos’ farm staff to sustain the seed production is a practical step towards a successful and productive partnership.

 

 

 

Seeds of Collaboration: Highlights from the Cebu Seed Savers Officers’ Bi-Monthly Meeting

Seeds of Collaboration: Highlights from the Cebu Seed Savers Officers’ Bi-Monthly Meeting

The Cebu Seed Savers Officers recently held their bi-monthly meeting, and it was a gathering filled with updates and plans to further their mission. The meeting brought together key partners, including Pestales, CONFFFED Secretary, and CONFFFED Officers, underlining the collaborative spirit at the heart of their work.

One of the primary objectives of the meeting was to update and plan for upcoming events, particularly the Nourish Events. Additionally, the officers discussed their proposed strategic planning for November and explored the possibility of a visit by GSS Fellows Mandy and Marissa to Cebu, enhancing the interconnectivity of their efforts.

One significant highlight was the Policy Advocacy Workshop, where two important policies related to food security were drafted. The first was on Organic Farming, with active participation from Bebs Embalzado. Bebs shared that the workshop had revealed various tools and techniques in organic farming that were previously unknown to her team, such as JADAM and others. This shared knowledge promises to enhance the quality and sustainability of their farming practices.

The second policy, Seed Sovereignty, garnered attention from GSSP Director Hal Atienza and Anita of BASS. Bebs shared a valuable insight from the workshop – the “Elevator Approach.” This approach focuses on engaging government officials quickly and effectively, even in an elevator ride, to advocate for their policy agenda and potentially schedule further meetings.

Crops Monitoring and Seeds Updating were also key topics of discussion during the meeting. Officers reported on the status of crops on their farms and shared insights about seed processing methods used by major seed companies. This information could be crucial as the Cebu Seed Savers consider venturing into seed sales to the public.

One pressing issue raised was the declining germination rates of stored seeds. The officers contemplated the reasons behind this issue and discussed potential solutions to ensure the quality of their seeds.

The meeting also shed light on the upcoming visit of interns Mandy and Marissa. The Pestales team expressed their enthusiasm for hosting them. Suggestions were made for their stay, emphasizing the importance of an extended visit to enable farm visits and deep immersion in their work. Practical arrangements for their accommodation were also discussed, demonstrating the warm hospitality of the Cebu Seed Savers Officers and their commitment to nurturing the next generation of seed savers.

Nurturing Seed Saving Communities: Global Seed Savers’ Partnerships in Bogo

Nurturing Seed Saving Communities: Global Seed Savers’ Partnerships in Bogo

Our recent meeting with the City of Bogo Farmers Federation (CBFF) at the Bogo City Hall was an inspiring gathering that laid the foundation for a promising partnership. With Purok Presidents from across Bogo in attendance, our objectives were clear: to attend meetings, establish connections within the SSC (Seed Saving Community) communities in Bogo, and link with CBFF officers. It was an opportunity for us to align our agenda with the mission and goals of seed sovereignty.

One of the most exciting outcomes of this meeting was the shared commitment to forming a Seed Saving Community in Bogo. The heart of this initiative lies in establishing a seed library at the Department of Agriculture office, and it all began with a conversation about the “Perahulis” seed variety, which may be a Lima Bean. This common vegetable variety, once abundant in Bogohanon backyards, is now at risk of being lost forever. The response from Letecia Decena, a Purok leader and CBFF officer, was heartening. She emphatically stated, “We are one with you on that cause, rest assured we will support.” This moment embodied the spirit of collaboration and shared purpose that this meeting fostered, bringing us one step closer to preserving valuable seed diversity in Bogo.

As we move forward, this partnership with CBFF and the dedicated individuals of Bogo reaffirms our commitment to seed saving and community engagement, illustrating the power of collective action in safeguarding our agricultural heritage.

GSS and Partners at BASS Nurture Collaboration and Discuss ‘Vegetable Basket’ Project

GSS and Partners at BASS Nurture Collaboration and Discuss ‘Vegetable Basket’ Project

 

Our recent bi-monthly meeting with our partners at the Benguet Association of Seed Savers (BASS) was a pivotal moment in our collaborative journey towards a more sustainable future. The primary focus of this gathering was to finalize and officially sign the BASS-GSSP Contract agreement for the ambitious “Vegetable Basket” Project. This project holds the promise of transforming the landscape of vegetable production in Benguet and beyond, emphasizing the importance of preserving heirloom and Indigenous seeds.

One of the key outcomes of our meeting was the development of a comprehensive crop programming plan, which outlines the specific crops that each BASS member will be responsible for producing in support of the “Vegetable Basket” Project. This strategic approach ensures that we can maximize our efforts and resources, thereby enhancing the project’s overall success. Additionally, we crafted a project implementation plan, designating responsible individuals for each crucial activity. This careful planning is a testament to our commitment to the project’s success. 

Furthermore, our meeting allowed us to identify the members who will play pivotal roles in generating the necessary reports, both prior to implementation and during the project’s execution. These reports are invaluable for tracking progress and ensuring transparency throughout the project’s lifecycle. The collaborative spirit and thorough planning exhibited during this meeting were truly inspiring, emphasizing the dedication of both Global Seed Savers and BASS to making a lasting impact on sustainable agriculture in Benguet and beyond!

Seeds of Knowledge: Global Seed Savers at the Eco-Waste and Sustainability Expo

Seeds of Knowledge: Global Seed Savers at the Eco-Waste and Sustainability Expo

We recently had the incredible opportunity to participate in the Seed Exchange at the Eco-Waste and Sustainability Expo in collaboration with our esteemed partners Zero Waste Baguio, Partners for Indigenous Knowledge Preservation (PIKP), and the City of Baguio at Malcolm Square. This event was not only about exchanging seeds but also about forging meaningful connections within the Baguio community. Our primary goal was to introduce Global Seed Savers and our vital advocacies to a wider audience while strengthening our newfound ties with the Department of Agriculture and the CVAO (City Veterinary and Agriculture Office).

Our presence at the expo was not only significant but also promising for the future of seed-saving in Baguio. This event holds significant importance for Global Seed Savers as it enabled us to connect with other organizations that share our passion for sustainable agriculture and biodiversity preservation. The potential for future collaborations is exciting, and this event may pave the way for the establishment of a formal Baguio Seed Saving Community among urban gardeners, even in limited spaces. Over the two days of the expo, we were delighted to sell a total of 116 seed packets, indicative of the growing interest in seed saving within the Baguio community.

Engaging with the Baguio community was a unique experience that allowed us to gauge the interest in seed saving among urban gardeners. Many had questions about whether they could successfully produce seeds from plants grown in containers and whether these seeds would yield productive crops. Furthermore, they were on the lookout for seed varieties we didn’t have, such as pechay, flowering plants, and fruits. Notably, urban gardeners were eager to explore “interesting” seeds, with red amaranth emerging as a bestseller, followed by patani, chia, patola, jackbeans, and native cherry tomatoes. These interactions emphasize the need for more seed exchanges and educational outreach to address the curiosity and enthusiasm within the urban gardening community.