Ravaged farms

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CHIT JUAN

CHIT JUAN

After Typhoon Glenda, I texted farmer Kiko and asked if I could buy some vegetables from him. I got news that his farm was 80 percent damaged.

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I called farmer Agnes, my mentor and neighbor and got news, she was also licking her wounds as her farms got affected almost 100 percent Then I called beekeeper Boleng—80 percent damage at Ilog Maria.

In our own little farm in ECHOfarms, only our native vegetables survived—okra, labanos, upo and saluyot, talbos ng camote, and malunggay. So I get to still have my green juice, but hardly any salad greens.

Cavite is a war zone, I thought. We got hit by Glenda and boy did she hit us. But, I realized it was all of Calabarzon. I was away when Glenda hit so I was piecing together news about typhoon damage. I recently learned that two weeks post-Glenda, in Los Baños, people still do not have electricity inside the University of the Philippines campus residential areas.

Then I met Mr. Costales of the famous seven-hectare Costales Farm in Majayjay, Laguna. We were talking about vegetable farming with Dean Pax Lapid who used to grown vegetables, too in Alfonso, Cavite.

Roland Costales reveals he lost 14 of 21 greenhouses to Glenda. He has had to refuse some accounts for the next two months. It may take 60 days to revive all his greenhouses and harvests. But thank God he has insurance.

So, when I see a salad left on a plate, my heart bleeds. It takes 60 days to grow it to table size, yet people sometimes leave it on their plates. If you start growing your own food, you will care more. And how.

Agnes the farmer also visited us in our new store in Salcedo Village. I asked her for her updated list of clients so I know where to eat when I eat out in the city. It pays to know your grocer and your purveyor. Like a secret language, we know who uses urea and who does not. We know who sprays and who does not. But all are kept secret. It’s farmers’ language. Am I glad I got to know all these.

But enrollment is high to be a farmer. I have been going through peaks and troughs since 2010 and still learning. But with resolve, we must carry one because we committed to grow food for our markets.

While waiting for farmer Kiko to arrive at an event, my friend Marissa tells me she also wants to grow her own food. She dreams of her own little farm where she and her young daughters can get their food supply.

It is the dream of many mothers and heads of households to find the right source . . . and sometimes the source is yourself. Grow your own food.

I will patch up Marissa and Kiko and soon I am sure they will revive Kiko’s farm and get their steady supply of greens.

Meanwhile, we are all healing our wounds brought by Glenda. The fallen trees, the vegetables patches that were washed away, the uprooted and felled bananas, papayas and even bamboo trees.

Big like Costales, or small like ECHOfarms, we suffered the same damage. No salad greens for 60 days. Just local vegetables that withstood the rains.

Calabarzon was hit but we shall rise again. No more Glendas, no more Indays . . . nothing will stop us. Because we committed to feed our families and our clients. The ravaged farms will soon be back in the race.

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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall and Davao City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates, youth and NGOs on social entrepreneurship, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at puj@echostore.ph

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