Farmers of Siargao
Full Name: Marja Ana Rivera Abad
Occupation: Chief Wave Maker of SEA Movement, and Managing Partner of Greenhouse
Siargao & Kudo Surf
Year first traveled to Siargao: 2006
Year permanently moved to Siargao: 2015
Residing in: Greenhouse, Saging-saging, Brgy. Catangnan, Gen. Luna
Favorite quarantine activity: Baking, cooking, fishing, learning about permaculture, listening to podcasts
Felice: Marja, thank you for all the amazing work you’ve done for the Siargao community regarding environmental causes. Could you tell us how and why you started the NGO-- SEA Movement in Siargao?
Marja: SEA (Siargao Environmental Awareness) Movement [http://seamovement.ph] was started to give me and other concerned people on the island a platform to take action, instead of just whining why certain things weren’t done. In 2015, it started out as beach clean-up initiative because there were, and are still so many, plastic waste on our coastline. Now, we have several other environmental projects like the Farm Project in Brgy. Catangnan.
F: We personally love this farm project and so fitting for these times we are in!
M: Yes! So, we adopted a farm under the Hardin ng Pagbabago Project led by General Luna Police Chief Wise Panuelos. It started as a project to rehabilitate inmates in San Isidro town (north of Siargao) through farming. It’s slowly becoming an island-wide program and a great for people to go back to farming as a means to be self-sufficient.
F: How are the locals/residents of Brgy. Catangnan responding to this community farm project?
M: Very well! We can see that they are enjoying working on this project. They are making nipa roofs for the nursery and the bahay kubo (local huts)— cutting bamboo and building the structures themselves. The men, the women and the youth are all involved.
Organizing the community will do wonders for people, as they will learn a lot of skills in building this community farm (from designing, planning, managing, etc). We are hoping that this farm project will teach the locals a lot in terms of being an organized unit, so they can bring these skills with them in creating other community-based projects.
Pullout quote: “We are hoping that this farm project will teach the locals a lot in terms of being an organized unit, so they can bring these skills with them in creating other community-based projects.”
F: What kind of harvest are we expecting in the next few months and years to come?
M: Everything in the local nursery rhyme, Bahay Kubo, and found in a Pinakbet dish, plus the more “western” veggies like lettuce, kale, rosemary, basil, peppermint. We want to plant everything that can grow in that area!
F: What is the current status of the community farm?
M: We’re currently building a proper nursery, nurturing the plant beds, registering the PO in SEC and securing an MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) with Mayor Rusillion so the farmers can use their private land for at least 5 years – for free. ☺
F: Can people contribute to this wonderful project?
M: Definitely! We were able to finance the community’s basic farming needs from funds raised through sales of our cute water bottles.
To contribute, people can either buy those bottles online or they can donate to us. Please click on the link http://seamovement.ph
For donations in kind, we would be happy to receive farming needs such as seeds, drums, buckets, rakes, etc. email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Once the quarantine is lifted, we can invite volunteers to join the members in the farm to do the actual farming. We also need people who can share their technical experience in different farming techniques such as vermicomposting and hydroponics/aquaponics.
We’re happy to share that a percentage of proceeds will go to the benefit SEA Movement Community Farming project in Brgy. Catangnan. We’re looking forward to seeing the garden beds in full bloom during the harvest season!
Update: We have donated PHP 5000 to SEA Movement to continue their sustainable projects on the island. Sign up to our Felice newsletter through www.feliceisland.com for updates and other exciting island stories. Be the first to know island girl!