Connie's Journey from Local Farmer to Community Leader!
Connie working in the Seed Library!
This Giving Season join us as we continue to build farmer leaders throughout the Philippines.  We are kicking off our Year End Campaign  this Thanksgiving and have a goal to raise $5,000 by the end of 2019.

Support our comprehensive programs including; technical and educational training, seed saving, establishing seed libraries, and encouraging organic and sustainable farming practices ensure that a wide diversity of crops are available and support communities ability to adapt and ensure resilience in the face of an ever changing climate. 

We want to share the story of
Conception Sotero or as we fondly call her, Manang Connie (older sister). She is a founding member of the Benguet Association of Seed Savers (BASS). Manang Connie attended our first Seed School in 2015 and continues to be an active member of BASS serving as the organizations Auditor. She is one of the first BASS Farmers to become a Seed School Teacher and has co-taught Seed Schools and an Introduction to Permaculture Course to her farmer peers throughout the Philippines since 2016. 

In Connie's words: 

"My first experience teaching Seed School was at Kai Farms. I was very nervous because the audience was made up of very rich people who were professionals. I kept wondering what I could possibly teach them or share with them because I didn't believe I could share anything important because I am "just a farmer." Who was I to teach? But I realized that even if I was 'just a farmer', I could help them and that being a farmer should not be a hindrance in helping them but is actually a great value!"  

Connie is an agent of change within her community and the Philippines as a whole. Prior to participating in our programs, she shared, " Before learning how to save seeds, I used to always buy seeds. But now, I really appreciate that I know how to harvest and store seeds. I realized how vital seed saving is to an organic farm's sustainability. It gave me confidence and pride to share and teach because I can say that I really am doing what I am teaching." 

Since teaching at her first Seed School, Connie continues educating others and showing them how to replicate our model within their communities. In 2018, Connie spent the year in Japan on an agriculture exchange supported by the local government where she shared her knowledge as an organic farmer and learned Japanese Organic techniques. Since returning home to the Philippines she has taken on the important leadership role of serving as the Seed Librarian at our founding seed library in Tublay. In this role she is responsible for maintaining the inventory of the seeds in the library and assisting in launching seed sales. This year, Connie also attended a two week Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Thailand sharing her experiences and Connie expressed , "Leadership, this is one of the things that are wonderful about being part of BASS. And I really appreciate that we are trusted to make decisions on our own as members and leaders of BASS. We are all equals and we are treated as equals building this work together."

Connie's story demonstrates the full cycle of our work and how we cultivate Filipino Farmer Leaders. From starting out as one of our farmers to serving as a Seed Librarian, our farmers practice what they learn by sharing these techniques with others around the Philippines and the world. 

Join us this holiday season by continuing to support our efforts to invest in farmer leaders like Connie! Without supporters like you, our work would not be possible, thank you for your on-going generosity! 

News From the Field:
Planes, Boats, Jeepneys, Bus and Car Rides,
 GSS is on the Move!
The GSS Team has been incredibly busy since our Founder and Executive Director, Sherry, arrived to the Philippines. We hit the ground running by presenting at the UGAT Conference in Baybay, Leyte. We made new, wonderful connections during this conference and are excited to continue our collaborate with them! We headed to Southern Cebu for our
 two-day staff retreat. We reflected on our challenges and successes in 2019. We also chose our theme for 2020:  Deepening our Roots and Extending our Branches.  Stayed tuned about our plans for the new year!

Farmers Preserving Heritage Crops in Cebu

Tatay Nolito sharing about kabog (millet)
Our Cebu Program Coordinator, Harry, coordinateed two-day farm visits in Cebu with our local partner NGO Communities for Alternative Food Ecosystems Initiative (CAFEi). We met with five farmer organizations and communities to learn more about their organic farming efforts and commitment to seed saving. 

We were welcomed by local farmers and Barangay officials who are supporting the preservation of their native crops and traditions. Millet or the local name Kabog is a staple grain of this area and through our partners at CAFEi  and Slow Food it is now featured in the Ark of Taste Program! A local chef named Buchi, prepared delicious food for our team. We enjoyed local hot chocolate, fresh cranberry juice, millet bread, millet paella, and native chicken for lunch! Masarap!

GSS team in Catmon with partners at CAFEi and community members 
 Grant Funding Received from
 Conservation, Food & Health Foundation

We are thrilled to announce we have received a $17,000 grant from the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation!  This is by far our largest grant received to date! With this support, we can continue to build our programs and partner with dedicated farmers like Connie and deepen our impact throughout the Philippines. Thanks to Conservation, Food & Health Foundation for this incredible support! 

Global Seed Savers



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