Meet the farmers
We work with a number of farmers who share our vision of a sustainable food ecology—growing a system that puts planet and people first. While we hold a strong preferential option for small holder farmers, a couple other down-shifting advocates help bring delight to your weekly basket.
Capas Organic Farmer Producers Cooperative
Predominantly rice and sugarcane farmers, our nanays and tatays in Capas, Tarlac decided to give organic vegetable farming a try when Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya, Inc. (SIBAT) began teaching sustainable agriculture methods in 2009. We proposed the idea of CSA in 2010, thereby introducing scale and a consistent market. Community Shared Agriculture grew roots between us over the years as we adjusted various aspects from planning, logistics, price-setting and costing together. Most importantly, it took us this long to build the trust of being in community. From 11 farmers in 2011, the cooperative has grown to 24 of predominantly women. Because the cash flow of vegetables is much faster than rice or sugarcane, the combination of both offers farmers a more stable and diversified income stream. Furthermore, backyard gardening has appeared to fit the house-bound role of women, allowing them to create value at the hearth. If you’d like to learn more about our farmers, join one of our farm trips or read about them here.
An association of 32 farmers in La Trinidad, Benguet, La Organica was trained and organized by a passionate municipal agriculturist, Marvin Pascual. After a rigorous hands-on six-month training in organic agriculture methods, the farmers who showed the most consistency and dedication were organized for collective marketing for their produce. The average age of farmers in this group is a little lower and they have more marketing options, given that Baguio has historically been a source of high-value crops. The challenge here is different as a number of these farmers have gotten sick from pesticide exposure. Many of them choose organic as a matter of personal health and principle, and they serve as a catalyst for change against the tide of conventional farming around them.
Chico River Organic Producers Cooperative
Contrary to the impression that Tarlac is all flat plains with some of the hottest and driest weather in the country, somewhere at the boundariesof the province are mountainous regions where communities of Aetas reside. Barangay Labney in Mayantoc is home to the Abelling tribe, a subgroup of the Aeta tribe. Bordering Zambales and Pangasinan, the place has a unique climate and terrain that make it possible for some highland and lowland crops to grow side by side. This is a good opportunity to explore possible companion planting combinations that could be beneficial to natural farming. It also makes Labney a possible potential backup supplier of vegetables in case cropping fails in other highland or lowland regions.
One challenge though is accessibility of the site. It takes one hour of motorcycle ride on mostly rough, sloping road from the national highway to reach the nearest house of one of our partner farmers (this is also the only area where there is cellphone signal in the place). It takes another 20 to 30 minutes ride and one major river crossing to reach the barangay proper where two of our seven representative farmers (chieftains) live, but to reach their farms require at least an hour’s trek across rivers and hillsides. However, the potential of their vast, unadulterated fertile lands and the opportunity to help give an edge to our IP farmers by supplementing their capabilities and offering marketing support rise above all these challenges.
Dumagats of San Ysiro
About two hours’ drive from Metro Manila, Sitio San Ysiro is situated in a valley within the lower Sierra Madre mountain range. It is far from main roads and urbanization with mainly rice fields and vegetable farms as the main source of livelihood. Some farmers practice kaingin.
Irrigation is sourced from springs and nearby streams. Their water sources are far or upstream from housings or animal farms but one potential watch-out is the presence of small-scale mining (gold panning) in some parts of the river.
Our partner Dumagat farmers are committed to organic farming but some of them work for commercial farms in the lowlands (daily wage) to fill in to their financial needs. We grouped them into three according to the location of their farms/residence: Group 1 which belongs to the lowland valley farmers; Group 2 (midway between the upland and lowland), and Group 3 (also known as the Tayabasan group; mostly upland, secluded, more forested).
Coromina Forest Cottage
The Lorax lemons come from Tublay, Benguet, where Lupe Corominag speaks for the trees. A militant naturalist, Lupe’s dedication to the forest biodiversity competes only with the desire to live peaceably within it. Their stories are inseparable as her father procured the empty property in the early 60’s and began planting trees when she was a little girl. Today, with a canopy over three stories high, the forest serves as a watershed and home to rare plants and animals.
Would you like to try your hands at farming? Sign up for our Farm Work Weekends here.