Celebrating Progress and Looking Forward: A Message from our CEO and Philippines ED!

Celebrating Progress and Looking Forward: A Message from our CEO and Philippines ED!

Sherry Manning, Founder and CEO, Global Seed Savers

Hello Wonderful Global Seed Savers Community-

As the year draws to a close the GSS Team has spent important time in reflection on all that happened this year and looking ahead to our plans and goals for 2024. The theme of 2023 has been transitions and we have had our fair share of those this year. With each change and shift in our team, our internal operations, and our partner expansions, we have been maturing and refining how we execute our work to ensure the greatest impact towards our mission of building food and seed sovereignty across the Philippines. 

Transitions can also be disruptive and cause people and organizations to feel uneasy. However, as I have been reflecting on this big year of transitions for us, I have been struck with the reality that GSS is a resilient organization! Just like the seeds our dedicated partner farmers sow and save, we have navigated the changes this year brought and are a better, stronger, and a more focused organization, not in spite of these challenges… but because of them! 

In 2024, we will be welcoming two new Philippines Team Members, expanding our partner communities to new regions across the Philippines, and deepening our local policy development through launching our Participatory Seed Governance Program to ensure the preservation of important heritage seeds across the Philippines. 

Our mission has never been more essential as the impacts of climate realities continue to threaten our partner communities. Seeds are a simple, but powerful tool to build community, preserve culture, and ensure that all communities can feed their families and sustain their livelihoods with regenerative practices. There is so much to look forward to for GSS and we are grateful to have you in our community! 

From all of us at Global Seed Savers we wish you and yours restful and peaceful year end festivities and here’s to all 2024 will bring! 

Save Seeds. Grow Food. Celebrate Heritage!

Hal Atienza, Philippines Executive Director, Global Seed Savers

It brings me great pride and pleasure to reflect on our remarkable journey as we close the year 2023. I joined the Global Seed Savers in April of this year, and I am honored to share some of the key milestones we have made as a collective force for positive change.

In collaboration with our dedicated team, our CEO/founder Sherry Manning, and the board members, we successfully facilitated the formulation of our comprehensive 5-year strategic plan. It serves as our roadmap in navigating the challenges ahead and ensuring that our mission to safeguard biodiversity and empower communities through seed saving remains impactful.

A crucial aspect of our progress has been the thorough review and standardization of policies across the key areas, including administration, finance, human resources, and program
management. It not only streamlined our operations, but also fortified the foundation upon which Global Seed Savers stands.

One of our significant accomplishments this year is that we defined our advocacy agenda on seed sovereignty. It focuses on three fundamental elements: seed self-sufficiency, seed
security, and seed justice. Hence, vision-mission statement coins well with our slogan on Save Seed, Grow Food, Celebrate Heritage. It puts to frame our resolve to protect and
promote the rights of the smallholders and family farmers in our seed-saving communities.

In our pursuit of excellence, we’ve implemented stringent protocols for program standards. These include the organizational and fortification efforts within seed-saving communities, a thorough review of seed school modules, and the adoption of the Participatory Seed Governance (PSG), an engagement framework for inclusive policy-making processes for a more meaningful stakeholdership. We are ready to implement our Seeds Inventory and Tracking System (SITS) as a methodical approach to documenting our seed-saving tasks, seed mapping, and seed library management.

As we reflect on these accomplishments, let us acknowledge the collective dedication and passion that each of the members of the Global Seed Savers family has contributed. It is through our shared commitment that we have been able to make such significant strides in a relatively short period.

The challenges ahead may be many, but our spirit is indomitable. Together, we will continue to be champions of seed sovereignty, regenerative agriculture, and community empowerment. The seeds we sow today are the harvests of a resilient and flourishing future for the next generation.

To my Global Seed Savers team, partners, and seed-saving communities, thank you for your unwavering support, dedication, and hard work. I wish you all a joyous holiday season and a new year filled with continued success and positive impact.

Let us seed forward in our passion to save seeds, grow food, and celebrate heritage.

GSSP Supports Strategic Planning Sessions for Cebu Seed Savers and Benguet Association of Seed Savers

GSSP Supports Strategic Planning Sessions for Cebu Seed Savers and Benguet Association of Seed Savers

The recent strategic planning session held at the Braveheart Training Center in Argao marked a significant milestone for our initiative. Engaging with the dynamic synergy of Cafei, Pestales, and CONFFFED members alongside dedicated Cebu Seed Savers officers, the event drew together 20 passionate individuals from across 4 cities and 5 municipalities of Cebu Island. 

Amidst this collaborative effort, the gathering identified 13 heritage seeds and crops, amplifying our seed diversity beyond the rich varieties in Catmon. The meeting also outlined six pivotal criteria to join the Seed Saving Community, emphasizing home seed libraries, dedicated production areas, meticulous record-keeping, and active community engagement. Excitingly, our potential expansion into areas like Dumanjug, Dalaguete, Camotes, Tuburan, Alegria, and involvement with two schools signals a burgeoning reach for sustainable agriculture. 

The Cebu Seed Savers anticipate establishing their own Vision, Mission, Goals, and Strategies, marking an empowering step forward in nurturing a resilient, seed-saving community! 

Our strategic planning session with our partners at BASS also shed a light on pivotal past challenges and envisioned a path forward. The officers expressed a collective commitment to growth and change, envisioning a revamped direction for BASS. The focus on establishing clear membership guidelines and setting six essential criteria for active participation not only aims to strengthen the partnership but also aligns with GSSP’s mission to bolster seed stocks for both regular and heirloom seeds. The excitement and dedication seen among BASS members signify a promising future, resonating with our shared vision of community-driven change. 

These planning sessions with our partner organizations demonstrate our value in capacity building and support to their farmer led organizations in processes like planning sessions. 

 

Exploring Growth Through Farm Visits!

Exploring Growth Through Farm Visits!

Our recent visit to Anita’s farm (BASS President) in Daclan, accompanied by Sarah and Manag Elizabeth, was an impactful on-site engagement.

During our time at Anita’s farm, she generously offered her farm as a potential seed production site for GSS. Her eagerness to facilitate GSS’ seed production and interest in joining GSS’ seed production team reflects the transformative impact these farm visits foster. Farm visits not only build partnerships but also serve as a catalyst for community-led initiatives. 

Our other recent farm visits to Manang Nora’s Farm in Tili, Shilan; Pastor Jun’s Farm in Ambassador, Tublay; Manong Roger’s Farm in Tudayana, Tublay; and Philip Boaz’s Farm in Talingsuroy, La Trinidad highlights inspiring narratives of community dedication and resilience.  

 

Manang Nora, a new BASS member and practicing organic farmer, showcased her commitment to organic farming by establishing an improvised seed library. Despite the challenging terrain at Pastor Jun’s farm, his dedication was evident. Manong Roger, new BASS member, substantial seed production area and newly initiated seed library reflected a flourishing commitment to seed-saving practices. Philip Boaz family farm focused on select vegetable crops and citrus fruits diverged from seed library practices.

 

 

Lastly, our team had an inspiring visit to Carole Domiclong’s seed library in Baguio City. Stepping into Manang Carole’s residence revealed not just a home but a vibrant hub of sustainable practices. Her 30-square meter organic backyard garden doubling as a seed production area exuded dedication and passion for preserving seeds. The sight of her extensive organic seed library, adorned with an impressive collection of regular and heirloom seeds, was a testament to her commitment to seed-saving practices. 

Manang Carole’s interest in joining GSSP resonated with our vision, prompting an exciting agreement: a forum slated for March in Baguio, inviting all Baguio-based seed savers. This forum will serve as the launchpad for organizing the Summer Capital Seed Savers, fostering a community-driven movement towards sustainable agriculture and seed sovereignty.

 

Visiting our partner farmers’ farms and seed libraries cultivates thriving relationships and partnerships which fosters a resilient community dedicated to sustainable agriculture. 

Celebrating Culture and Seeds: Highlights from the Bukidnon Seed Steward Exchange

Celebrating Culture and Seeds: Highlights from the Bukidnon Seed Steward Exchange

The recent Bukidnon Seed Steward Exchange, conducted in collaboration with our valued partner, the Salumayag Youth Collective for Foresters, was a captivating journey into the heart of Sto. Domingo, Malaybala, Bukidnon. This event was driven by several key objectives, primarily focused on sharing Indigenous seed-saving practices from our partners at Benguet Association of Seed Savers (BASS), facilitating discussions on basic seed-saving, collection, and seed library management, and formulating an action plan for GSSP and Salumayag’s collaboration in advocating for seed sovereignty.

Upon arrival at Salumayag late in the afternoon, the exchange began with an engaging forest walk alongside the knowledgeable foresters. This walk served as a platform for the exchange of knowledge, where insights were shared about common species found in Benguet and Bukidnon, as well as their benefits and uses.

In the afternoon, Manong Macario led a session on Benguet Seed Saving Practices, delving into the indigenous ways and processes of seed saving, which the BASS and the broader community practice. This enlightening session also revealed the spiritual significance of seed saving in their culture, along with traditions like the Dalawe song, sung during harvest seasons.

Participants also learned about the importance of specific tools, such as the Sou-an fireplace for seed storage, Tubong bamboo containers with pine wood covers to prevent pests, and the Wakness prayer for cleansing and protection. Another notable aspect was the Agamang, similar to the Lalapung, where seeds are stored.

Harry further enriched the experience with a short sharing on the fundamentals of seed saving, covering topics like seed biology, types of seeds, harvesting, and storage!

The significance of this activity for GSS became evident through the cultural appreciation and affirmation received from external voices. This encouraged and validated the Salumayag Foresters in their collective effort to steward their heritage, including culture, seeds, food, and history. The bottom-up approach with Indigenous and tribal communities was noted as vital for understanding and integrating their knowledge and practices. Additionally, the exchange allowed various tribal and Indigenous communities to learn from each other, fostering knowledge exchange and community strengthening.

The forest was emphasized as a crucial resource for these communities, providing food, medicine, and livelihood. It was heartening to witness their transformative journey and advocacy work. Various aspects, such as the healing properties of Muglingi rice and the unique naming of crop varieties based on elders’ wisdom, added depth to the exchange. Moreover, participants learned about the sub-tribes within the Manobo tribe, a tribe we work closely with.

For those interested in learning more about the activities, seed varieties, and projects of the Salumayag Youth Collective for Foresters, you can visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/salumayagyouth , or their website: https://salumayagyouth.com/bukidnon-seed-stewards-project/ .

 

This exchange was a testament to the power of preserving traditions and seeds, and the importance of cross-cultural learning and collaboration in our collective mission!

 

 

 

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.