Image above: Ma’am Ester’s newly planted zucchini that will be saved for seeds.

Spending my last day in Tublay on Tuesday visiting our core farmers was the perfect way to cap off an incredibly busy and productive annual trip! Each of our core Seed Savers are kind, funny, dedicated organic farmers, and community leaders all working to help make this world a better place. I am honored to get to work with and learn from each of them. A few weeks ago we distributed the last allotment of infrastructure project funds to 5 of the core farmers. Prior to receiving the funds each farmer submitted plans for their projects with drawings of the greenhouse repairs and composting facilities and projected budgets (that had to include a local counterpart). I am happy to report that almost all the farmers have started their projects and they will all be finished by February. It is wonderful to see their commitment and appreciation of this support and ability to get right to work to make these improvements a reality. Another wonderful aspect of our monthly field visits is observing the camaraderie that the core group of farmers has built over the last year. These farmers, who used to work alone, have now built a community of support and shared knowledge and understanding. Whether, they are trading seeds, livestock, or best practices in organic farming and seed saving this core group of farmers is committed to seeing each other and their fellow farmers excel.

I typically spend very few days in Manila during my annual trips but I was there the last few days which ended up being an enchanted time of connecting with people I normally only see in the North, and making new connections to seed saving initiatives throughout the country. My dear friend Siegird and her fellow potter Tessie (from Sagada) had a pottery exhibit at the Ayala Museum on Saturday. It was so fun to see them in the chaos of Manila and get to support their involvement in such a special show of SE Asian potters. I also had the good fortune, through many wonderful friends and supporters of our work to connect with Amena of Kai Farms.

Kai Farms is an organic farm located in Cavite (about 2 hours from Manila). Amena, like me is a foreigner (though she is Indian) but has lived in the Philippines for almost 15 years and considers it her true home. She and her friend and business partner Karla Delgado (a mutual friend of many wonderful supporters of our work) opened Kai Farm two years ago to serve as a truly sustainable organic farm, education space, and livelihood development center for the community. Amena and I shared a wonderful lunch yesterday and talked all things seeds, farming, the environment, spirituality and more! Kai farms is planning to build a seed temple and they are excited to connect with our programs and exchange and share seeds, host a seed school and more! They are also excited about our potential 2018 Philippines Seed Summit.

This has by far been my post productive trip to the Philippines and while it is always sad to leave I am more excited then ever to be building a team of people locally that are committed to moving this work forward with each seed we sow. Like our collaborator and dear friend Bill McDorman says, “Seed people are some of the most interesting people in the world.” It is gratifying to know we are moving in the right direction and because of our focus on seeds we are connecting with and identifying truly amazing partners and setting big visions for the coming year. Thank you for your continued support of this critically important work and sending you all peaceful wishes for the up-coming holiday season and start to 2017.