On March 17, 2016, Evelyn Castillo, Bayanihan Foundation Liaison took me to Basey, Samar to find another potential suitable site of the “BOB Toilet” , a biodegradable, zero waste toilet that doesn’t use water and recycles rain water to wash hands and promote hygiene. In 2014, Basey was one of the places heavily devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan, leaving many people dead and thousands displaced by the storm. I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon in the middle of nowhere this wonderful organic farm run by a farmers cooperative. I felt like I accidentally found a little heaven on earth.
Evelyn introduced to me Ms. Anacita Badaran of the Basey Women’s Association and Farmers Cooperative. She gave me a tour of the farmer’s cooperative and the creative, self-sustaining agricultural practices they have created. It was not just any farm. It was a farm shared by many farmers in the area through a farmers cooperative structure. The cooperative has eight different self-sustaining components: 1) pig farm; 2) poultry farm: 3) community herb garden; 4) vegetable patch; 5) duck farm; 6) taro patch; and 7) compost heap.
They even have a women’s association center that turns native raw materials into beautiful women’s handbags and purses. These women and their families have turned this corner of the world into their own world of a self-sustaining economy, a little heaven on earth. Join me in a brief pictorial tour of Basey’s ‘Heaven On Earth’ Farmer’s Cooperative:
As we climbed up the hill, I was surprised the extensive network of rice fields that surround the Basey Farmers Cooperative. They’ve planted both white and specialty black rice.
They have a poultry, duck and pig farms in the Farmers Cooperative that provides much-needed livelihood programs for the community. That day, the women collected over 250 organic fresh farm eggs to be sold in the public market of Basey.
They have an herbal garden, vegetable plot and a taro patch. Taro is a tropical plant primarily grown as a root vegetable for its edible starchy corm, and as a leaf vegetable. They are planted prolifically in Southern and Southeast Asia and the Pacific and it’s used practically in every other dish.
Through efforts of the Caritas Czech Republic and their partners, I was able to see the fruits of labor of 287 farmers working together to make this diverse organic farm thrive. I was able to see a piece of heaven on earth as women and their families help each other to make an organic, sustainable farm work in this corner of the world.
How wonderful to have found this Eden and the people there who are working together to preserve it; meanwhile inventing new ways to bring it forward.
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