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.