As I start understanding regenerative agriculture in my work, going through the mountain villages of Kalinga province with bad rocky and muddy roads (as in hell bad you wonder where your taxes go) will bring you heartbreak. There, hectares and hectares of forests are burned through kaingin practice to grow rows and rows and rows of corn. These are grown by the indigenous Guilayon of Nambucayan as immediate income. After Typhoon Haima (Lawin) hit, the need for more work and money drive them further into this way of life while getting buried in debt to afford pesticide and to buy the seeds. This adds more risk for losing their watershed and displacement from future landslides. To add, all crops have to be sprayed with Round-Up among other forms of glyphosate laden pesticides. Poisoning food and soil, we also lose opportunity to store carbon from the burned forests as glyphosphate disables plants from storing carbon. Thinking of the countries that already banned (or planning to) this toxic Monsanto product, I wanted to hold my breath to avoid the toxins in the air from entering my system as I walked through the corn fields to get to our community consultation. Back at my homestay tonight, my heart is aching thinking of how with this small opening for permaculture and ecosystem restoration we are exploring with the school and village leaders can bring hope if pushing through. I think of the lost earth wisdom from their indigenous beliefs and way of life and how we can remember that. I think of the bigger movement of regeneration being done around the world as proof of concept to transform bleak situations like this. I wish my messed up phone kept the photo I took of a child in the foreground of a denuded mountain or of an old man and his spray can riding his carabao. It would have shown you a human face to this huge systemic problem around the world today worsened by climate change.
In the last few days, I was witness to precious story circles with community leaders (youth, women, Barangay council, farmers cooperatives, teachers, school officials) from 4 public agriculture schools. Together with the Department of Education Green Releaf is doing the ground work for a permaculture and ecovillage design project as part of Super Typhoon Lawin recovery. I am grateful for the roads (no matter how rough you will dread paying taxes wondering where they go) that get us through the mountains to listen to their needs, strengths, and their dreams. I discovered that the most far flung and unreachable, the most open people's hearts are. They can even carry you on their backs through the river. Give you food even if you know they don't have much. Makes you reflect on how cities shape our spirits. Thank you Dep Ed especially Irene Angway and the social mobilization team, thank you leaders, and earth spirits who guided us on our witnessing process 🌟🌈🍃