Reigniting Partnership: Global Seed Savers and LGU of Bogo Philippines

Reigniting Partnership: Global Seed Savers and LGU of Bogo Philippines

Our GSS team recently celebrated a significant milestone in partnership development and participatory local seed governance. In a momentous event, we reignited our collaboration with the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Bogo, Philippines. This renewed partnership marks a crucial step forward in empowering local communities and safeguarding agricultural biodiversity. 

The LGU of Bogo, located in the northern part of Cebu, Philippines, has long recognized the significance of preserving traditional seeds and supporting sustainable agriculture. In the past, we had collaborated with the LGU to establish community seed banks and promote seed-saving practices. 

October 2020 we had our first call and introduction at the Mayors office and the MAO of Bogo through our partner farmers and Cebu Seed Savers, Mr. & Mrs. Bastonero. This initial conversation focused on food and seed security for Bogo, Philippines. To achieve food and seed security, Mayor Carlo Martinez and Ms. Alicia Lepiten (head of the MAO) first planned for the installation of a Seed Bank/Library. Soon after the planning session, they allocated a room in the City Hall to function as the Seed Bank/Library!

Since then, many visits and follow ups were held with Ms. Alicia and we tackled questions like how we can reconnect, re-engage, and cultivate our relationships. Most importantly, what are the strategies for the establishment of the new Seed Library as we strive towards food and seed sovereignty. 

During this meeting, Ms. Alicia gladly informed us that the Seed Bank/Library is making progress! The Seed Cabinet construction is complete and will be placed temporarily at the MAO office. We also planned for a future technical training for the members of Organic Farmers Federation of Bogo which mean this was an official launch of the Seed Library for Bogo with Mayor Martinez!

Ms. Alicia and Mr. & Mrs. Bastonero expressed their enthusiasm and dedication to working hand in hand to revitalize local seed systems and preserve traditional knowledge. This can be accomplished by participatory local seed governance. 

Participatory local seed governance lies at the core of sustainable agriculture. It involves engaging local farmers, indigenous communities, and stakeholders in decision-making processes regarding seed conservation, cultivation, and distribution. By involving the community in seed-related activities, entities like the LGU of Bogo recognize the importance of preserving local knowledge, promoting biodiversity, and ensuring food security for future generations.

Through participatory local seed governance, farmers are empowered to become custodians of their seed heritage. They are encouraged to save, share, and exchange seeds, fostering resilience in the face of environmental challenges and commercial pressures. Moreover, this approach promotes the conservation of traditional crop varieties, which often possess unique traits adapted to local conditions. Through this collaboration, we aim to preserve seed diversity, empower farmers, and ensure food security. 

We celebrate this recent meeting because it served as a catalyst for reigniting our valuable partnership between us and the LGU of Bogo Philippines – highlighting the importance of participatory local seed governance and partnership building. This meeting was a testament to the shared commitment towards agricultural sustainability and community empowerment. As we seed onward, let us celebrate this renewed partnership and embrace the collective responsibility of safeguarding our agricultural heritage for generations to come!

GSS Team Tours CONFFFED’s Seed Library at Pestales Farm and Strengthens Community Bond!

GSS Team Tours CONFFFED’s Seed Library at Pestales Farm and Strengthens Community Bond!

Our partners at Community of Organic Natural Farmers and Fishermen Federation (CONFFFED) invited the GSSP team (Hal, Efren, Harry, and Sarah) and Edgar “Gagix” Cascabel (Community Organizer of Cebu Province) to participate in their monthly impact meeting! 

As part of the meeting, GSS had the opportunity to explore CONFFFED’s latest venture: a state-of-the-art Seed Library. This meeting brought together 10 members of CONFFFED which consisted of members from the Community of Organic Natural Farmers and Fishermen Federation and other various farm association leaders and members. Of these members were our very own partner farmers from Cebu Seed Savers!  

During this meeting, the GSSP team had the pleasure of introducing themselves to members of CONFFFED!  It was the first time that our Marketing and Communications Manager Sarah and our Program Manager Efren met our partners in person! Along with this milestone introduction, the members of CONFFFED also had the opportunity to meet our new Philippines Executive Director Hal Atienza.

The invitation extended to GSS to join CONFFFED’s monthly meeting underscores the growing recognition of our valuable contributions to the global seed-saving community. CONFFFED’s commitment to promoting environmental development and sustainable farming aligns harmoniously with GSS’s mission of conserving traditional seeds and supporting local farmers. By fostering collaboration among organizations with shared goals, this meeting not only created a platform for the exchange of knowledge and ideas but also strengthened the collective effort to address pressing challenges in the agricultural sector.

A few pivotal conversations held during this meeting included Seed Library planning, announcing the upcoming Action Planning session for Cebu Seed Savers, and reviewing what Seed Sovereignty means to GSS and our partners. 

Hal Atienza applied his expertise and gave a high-level overview of GSSP’s redefined core definition of Seed Sovereignty and its crucial elements. This highlighted the importance of exploring a seed repository for CONFFFED, and would enable CONFFFED members to support the initiative and work towards Seed Sovereignty. 

Our Program Manager Efren shared his wisdom and insight from the farm visit and consultation conducted by farmer Jon which will be applied for the IDOFS Project with the Cebu Seed Savers (CSS) happening later. Efren provided valuable insights and inspiration for GSS’s ongoing efforts to enhance its own seed-saving initiatives.

During this meeting, the GSSP Team also visited CONFFFED’s Seed Library that we collaborated on! This Seed Library is the outcome of our community led initiative and was the next step from our event where we had the signing of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). This cutting-edge seed library represents a significant step forward in seed conservation and access!

CONFFFFED members are thrilled and are looking forward to the future of the installed Seed Library. They are also eager to learn how they can contribute to the Seed Library’s impact for a more seed sovereign and healthy family and communities future! 

With continued collaboration and the nurturing of such relationships, we can make meaningful strides in preserving traditional seeds, fostering biodiversity, and ensuring food security for generations to come.

Mapping the Way Forward: Global Seed Savers’ Strategic Planning in Action

Mapping the Way Forward: Global Seed Savers’ Strategic Planning in Action

Our Global Seed Savers Philippines team recently held an inspiring strategic planning retreat facilitated by our new Philippines Executive Director Hal Atienza! The retreat was an opportunity for our team to chart a path forward and shape our strategic roadmap for the years ahead. The purpose of the activity was to review the strategic direction of GSSP and come up with the 5-year strategic plan using the logical framework.

One of the key outcomes of the retreat was the development of a visionary roadmap for Global Seed Savers. Guided by a commitment to seed sovereignty, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable agriculture, the GSSP Team collectively crafted a comprehensive vision for the future. They identified key priorities, such as expanding access to locally adapted seed varieties, strengthening community engagement and empowerment, and forging strategic partnerships to amplify their impact. 

The team also tackled questions like: 

1) Where are we now?

2) Where do we want to be? 

3) How will we get there?

4) How do we know we made it?


It is important to determine how effective our strategies are in relation to our goals. Then the team was able to assess our effectiveness and efficiency in terms of our governance and management processes. Only then can we determine our impacts by looking at our relevance and sustainability. 

Aspirations become more realistic if we are able to define a clearer strategic direction. Meaning, our yardstick of performance management stays in place.

Because of the 4-day strategic planning, the GSSP Team was able to: 

1) Define a clearer vision-mission statement 

2) Develop our goals with corresponding strategies 

3) Formulate our Slogan (GSS mantra), “Save seeds. Grow food. Protect heritage.”


The retreat also provided a valuable platform to identify and address challenges faced by Global Seed Savers and the broader seed-saving community.

 The team engaged in focused discussions to explore solutions for preserving traditional knowledge, mitigating the threats posed by climate change and industrial agriculture, and overcoming barriers to seed conservation and sharing. By collectively addressing these challenges, Global Seed Savers aims to foster resilience, adaptability, and sustainability in our global food systems.

The strategic planning retreat was not simply an intellectual exercise, but a call to action. This strategic planning retreat served as a powerful catalyst for change, harnessing the collective wisdom and passion of seed savers worldwide. Through collaboration, innovation, and a shared commitment to sustainability, Global Seed Savers is sowing the seeds of a resilient and prosperous future for our planet and its inhabitants. 

How Building with Natural Elements Leads us to Balance

How Building with Natural Elements Leads us to Balance

Our Communications and Marketing Manager Sarah, along with 12 other participants from Olongapo, Las Pinas, Cavite, and Makati, attended the first section of the Natural Building Workshop hosted by Subli Farm in Batangas. 

Subli Farm, which is managed by the family of Asha Peri, is a permaculture farm which follows the seed-to-table model of growing food. The farm is also the venue of the Ecology of Food courses which aims to teach participants how they can get the most life force and nutrition from their food while they balance the need for great tasting meals. 

Asha and her mom Ludy (now 72) went to the Earth University at Navdanya in India in 2018. There, they learned from Dr. Vandana Shiva about the impact of GMOs on Indian Farming and made many parallels to the struggles Filipino Farmers face. From that point on, Asha became a kitchen activist, organizing events like the Food, Farming, Freedom course,  which offered a new view on sustainable food for Filipinos. 

At Subli farm, the yoga room, lecture room and the dormitory buildings are all built with earth materials and resources. The Natural Building Workshop is a renovation of their kitchen area. Sarah and other participants built benches for the dap-ay, two shelves for the music area and seed storage, and a wall to protect the area from the elements!

This event is a two part workshop. The first one that was just concluded taught participants how to mix the materials for earth building, how to build structures, and how to mold clay tiles. 

The second part of this workshop (May 13-14, 2023) will be concentrated on wattle and daub (using bamboo as rebars for wall structures), plastering, and finishing with clay.

These skills are essential to sustaining environmental balance; where nature uplifts our spirits and surrounds us with a healthy future. There is so much we can do with these skills like maybe building a seed library made of earth or building resilient homes for our community!

“Earth is forgiving. Natural building takes time, but the output will also stand the test of time. With natural building, there is no waste. When it is time to tear down the structure you have built, everything goes back to the earth, or you can reuse it again for another structure.” – Sarah Sabado

GSS Goes To The Philippine Permaculture Convergence!

GSS Goes To The Philippine Permaculture Convergence!

Last November 25 to 27, 2022, Efrenlito Cabbigat (Phil Program Manager), Harry (Cebu Seed Production Coordinator), Farmer Elizabeth Martin (Benguet Field Coordinator, BASS), and Farmer Adelwisa Remeticado Pacaña (Cebu Seed Savers) attended the 5th Philippine Permaculture Convergence in Oriental Mindoro which was hosted by the Philippine Permaculture Association.

They have learned a lot from the various lectures and interactions they had with other farmers and permaculturists. Perhaps one of the more memorable experiences during the event was when Manang Adelwisa and Manang Elizabeth presented the results of one of the group discussions they participated in. To see them speak out and share their thoughts about topics they are knowledgeable about is a great honor.

Indeed, this is our dream for every farmer: to re-discover their voice, to re-ignite their passion for shaping Philippine agriculture, and to become true forces for change.

Reflection on the Seed School Teachers’ Training in Cebu

Reflection on the Seed School Teachers’ Training in Cebu

I am Elizabeth Martin. I am a seed saver and organic practitioner based here in Tawang, La Trinidad, Benguet. I am also the Field Coordinator of Global Seed Savers Philippines (GSSP).

Last August 24-26, 2022, my companions from BASS and I went to Cebu to attend a seminar on Seed School Teacher’s Training (SSTT).

 There were seven of us who attended the SSTT – three (3) were from the Benguet Association of Seed Savers (BASS) and four (4) from the Cebu Seed Savers (CSS). The SSTT was held at the office of the Communities for Alternative Food Ecosystem (CAFEi) in Guadalupe, Cebu.

This is the second SSTT conducted by GSSP. The first one was held in Batangas some time ago. The goal of the training was to prepare us to become future seed school trainers.

Prior to the SSTT, I attended the seed savers training as a participant. The topics during the seed school were focused on seed saving. It included a discussion on the history of seed saving, why we should save seeds, as well as the skills needed to preserve seeds. Meanwhile, the SSTT was focused on self-awareness and communication skills. The SSTT also included a short course on seed saving.

During SSTT, I learned to appreciate myself better. I have also learned how I can better appreciate seeds and other people in my daily life. The training made me realize that by being aware of myself, I can deal better with others because like a seed, each one of us is unique.

I have also realized that in this life, everything comes in phases. Learning should not only be confined inside the four walls of the school. Learning can also come through our daily experiences. I have learned that these lessons can be used to create a more peaceful and enjoyable tomorrow.