Image above: Jeffrey pictured with the GSS US Board of Directors at Nourish! View more pictures from the event here.

Once again, it is that time of year, when I am off to the Philippines for my annual trip! It always feels like a big push to make this trip happen, but once I am sitting (as I am now) at the gate in Seattle, the rush to get here fades away and my excitement for the next 5 weeks begins to set in.

My departure always follows our Annual Nourish Celebration and this years’ event was one for the books! On Saturday, October 26th over 130 guests gathered at the Posner Center for International Development to celebrate all things seeds, Filipino Food, and community. Sharing a beautiful Kamayan Feats guests enjoyed this communal style of Filipino eating with bare hands, which made for a festive and visually stunning experience.

It was also wonderful to have our special guest Jeffrey Sotero the Municipal Agriculture Officer in Tublay, Benguet and GSS Philippines Board Member share his experiences as a farmer, local government official, and passionate seed saver. I said it many times while Jeffrey was in the US and will say it again if every Municipality in the Philippines had someone like Jeffrey (leading their agriculture programs) the Philippines would be in a much better place.

Hosting Jeffrey for nearly three weeks in my home allowed us time to share many conversations about his impressions of the US (as it was his first time here), discuss his visions for his community and country, and his personal aspirations as a role model and leader for seed saving in the Philippines. The resounding theme he kept returning to was the spirit of Bayanihan! Bayanihan is a Filipino custom derived from the Tagalog word “bayan”, which means nation, town, or community. The term bayanihan itself literally means “being in a bayan”, which refers to the spirit of communal unity, work, and cooperation to achieve a particular goal.

This spirit is indeed the heart and soul of our work at Global Seed Savers! Seeds, seed saving, building a community committed to sustainably feeding itself, and resisting the ever-growing stronger corporate and chemical take over of our food system, is only possible when done together…in community….with a true spirit of Bayanihan!

We live in a time when all too often the messages we hear from heads of state and the never-ending Twitter feed are messages of fear, isolation, and hate. However, seeds teach us to slow down, remember what is important, and reconnect with an essential element to our common experience…. food and community!

So as my head is racing, with all the work, planning. and travel to come over the next 5 weeks in the Philippines. I am also holding tight to this important lesson of bayanihan and am so grateful to see the Global Seed Savers community continue to grow and work together to build a true community that is rooted in relationships, the land, and seeds.

Thank you for being part of our growing bayanihan and I am eager to reconnect on the ground with all the amazing community in the Philippines that champions our work and collective vision for a better world, one we build together in a community!