• Smart and spiritual farming



    IT was a wonderful Saturday spent with women from 13 countries—India, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Thailand, USA, Germany, Australia, South Africa and the Philippines—at the ECHOfarms in Amadeo, Cavite where shared our stories about farming and growing one’s own food.

    The smart and intellectual academicians are from the Ecclesia Women of Asia (EWA), an elite group of women with Masters in the Arts and are in the study of Theology. Most, if not all, are professors, book authors and spiritual and theological experts.

    The surprise guest was a Filipina named Maggie Eusebio (she has recently visited Amadeo) who told us about her dissertation on Spirituality and Farming. She said, “If farmers had a high spirituality index, then their farms will be more sustainable.”

    Wow, I thought that was a good way of telling us to make sure we know who grows our food. So we looked at each other with an “AHA” kind of look and nodded about our agreement with Maggie’s statement.

    Well, it’s about time we really checked where our food comes from. So I need to make sure my farm manager and her family are also spiritually-connected and mindful of doing their spiritual exercises like communing with the Higher being.

    And being grateful for all the blessings we have received.

    Jeannie my destiny reader partner in ECHOstore told me that being religious is in my “chart.” Well, I agree with her as going to church for me has been a most rewarding and calming activity. Being spiritual is also something I admire in many people and whatever you believe in or whoever you believe in does not matter tome, as long as you believe. So, there can be many religions, many faiths but what cuts across is our love for good food and having healthy food at that.

    These women of EWA were all excited about picking their own vegetables, and posing as if they were farmers! We also served a simple ECHOfarm meal to them. We had an arugula and Blue ternate salad, tarragon tea and of course, brewed coffee, which paired well with pastries from Tagaytay.

    All the guests agreed that fresh vegetables and herbs we grow in our own backyards are the best food from Nature. They now are looking at how to go back to their countries and start their farms. One said” we could not get them fresher than picking them ourselves” as she chomps on a vegetable sandwich.

    But we go back to spirituality and how farmers also have to be a happy and contented bunch. If farmers are happy, the plants get the positive energy. If the farmers are not happy or lacking in spirituality then the harvest may feed our stomachs as fiber but not optimized as Nature’s healing medicine.

    Further Maggie reminds us that a big component of spirituality that was significant in the farmers of Amadeo who she interviewed is their stewardship—they use only organic pest controllers. She did her research using a questionnaire with a scale that measures intrinsic and extrinsic religious orientation and was developed by Gorsuch and McPherson(1989).

    I think Professor Maggie is correct. There indeed is a connection between planting and being spiritually happy and spiritually content. And a connection to sustainability, too, if the ones who farms rates high on spirituality index.

    I met all these EWA ladies through a member, Kristine Meneses, who interviewed me months ago to see if a farm visit would fit their programme for their biennial international conference. The honor was ours for having been chosen as a destination for these women who I am sure rate high on the Spirituality Index of Maggie.

    So farm, pray, love. Rate high on the index and your farm will truly be a sustainable one.

    * * *

    Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall, Davao, Cebu City, Antipolo and Iloilo 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 and NGOs on sustainability, 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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