Time to Eat, Everyone

Dear CSA members,

Kamusta na? Suddenly, it’s October. It’s shocking to wrap our head around this and the fact that majority of Filipinos have led their lives practically indoors for seven months now. Pre-lockdown feels like ancient times, and we call it B.C. Before Covid. Many admit they still find the days blurring into each other. Sheltering in place, stripped of our previous rhythms and novel experiences, which the brain needs to create memories, a lot of us are unable to differentiate the days and the weeks from each other in this time soup. The expression losing track of time has become unnervingly palpable. 

There’s a growing and important body of research on how temporal agency, this ability to structure and manage time, is tied to mental health and well-being, and which is deteriorating during corona-time. And we mention this here because we are re-learning how food remains an effective way of protecting and strengthening our temporal agency. Our farmers teach us that in these strange, anxiety-ridden times, food can help create humble but vital landmarks in our daily lives that restore our agency.

Participating in CSA, we are grounded by the seasons through our farmshares. We say goodbye to the abundance of pears, but also hello to passionfruit a-plenty and enjoy the sweet transition. Those impressive bell peppers that were mainstays in our tampipi have bowed out and made way for cabbage and pole beans galore. As we mark the changing of the seasons with our farm shares, we remember another way of experiencing time, one that connects us to the life-affirming cycles of nature.

A lot of you have also told us how you look forward to the Thursday delivery and mark it as one of the highlights of your week. You carve out quiet time to plan and cook meals for loved ones and are grateful for the chance. Some of you who started growing your own food from the seeds of our produce and Nay Marie’s soil are learning, as you wait patiently for the seedlings to grow, that while time is something we cannot fully control (it’s been three weeks, why is the bell pepper not growing?), the surrender can also be rewarding (yay, the talong is finally flowering!). Food and nature give us this sense of a natural arc that is restorative, allowing us to imagine a time beyond this pandemic.

And so we begin to plan again, to re-imagine a future with our growing community.  

This October we started the training of our farmers in the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) with guidance from PGS Pilipinas and MASIPAG (Magsasaka at Siyentipiko para sa Pag-unlad ng Agrikultura). We had actually started this process in March, exactly one week before Luzon was placed in lockdown. It took several months of blank stares as we tried to figure out how to push through given restrictions in mobility and mass gatherings, both of which had been essential to be able to plan with the farmers. Thankfully, PGS Pilipinas has been very patient with us!

What’s PGS? Well, we’re all quite familiar with third-party certification of organic products, a top-down approach that is appropriate for big or better-resourced food producers and those interested in penetrating international markets. An example of this is the organic label, a regulated label, that we see on food packaging. 

While third party certification has its place, it’s also beyond the reach of peasant farmers, who feed 70% of the world’s population. PGS is an alternative guarantee system designed for small producers. It guarantees the production of organic food based on the active participation of those who have a direct stake in the food security of a local community. 

We love this practice because members of the community take part in growing safe food that is accessible to all. PGS promotes participation, trust, equity, knowledge exchange, and social networks to achieve this. Both PGS and CSA believe that access to safe, nutritious, and environmentally and ethically grown food are possible when the community shares these goals.

In a nutshell, it’s co-production–which is at the heart of CSA! And we’re very happy about this development for our farmers, which will redound to making organic food more accessible to more Filipinos.

We’re also trying to reimagine a future with our partner urban poor communities in Payatas. As mentioned before, one of the strange gifts of this pandemic is that it gave us a chance to include the urban poor in our ecosystem through Lingap Maralita, which we recently concluded and transformed into new program to respond to the distressing fact that food insecurity is the new normal for the urban poor. We can help stop this. How?

By giving the urban poor the power to grow their own food. 

In Food Today, Food Tomorrow, we want to create a model for a resilient local food system. We are piloting micro food gardens with 20 households in Golden Shower, Payatas, over the next four months with the goal of replicating a sustainable model in different communities and presenting micro food gardening as a viable strategy for food security among the urban poor. 

Food Tomorrow will provide a food garden starter kit that includes organic soil, vermicompost, rainwater catchment, and cuttings of organic vegetables that they will grow, along with training and guidance on urban food gardening over a 16-week program, including topics on plant and soil nutrition, composting, seed saving, plant concoctions, and healthy food preparation. After the project, we hope to start buying the surplus vegetables to donate to another food-insecure community and kickstart another cycle of communities growing their own food. You can learn more about the food garden project here.

But hunger cannot wait for 16 weeks. Under Food Today, we launched our Solidarity Share, where CSA subscribers and citizens with the means and social safety nets in place buy a CSA farmshare at subsidized cost for a struggling family so that a bigger community is able to eat healthy. As with our other farm shares, this also provides Filipino smallholder farmers with regular income on fair trade terms, while promoting environmentally sustainable farming practices. You can learn more about our Solidarity Share here.

Admittedly, these projects are moving at a slower pace than if they were happening in normal time, and on top of our daily operations. We know that there’s hard work ahead, and that this is something we cannot do on our own. So, everyday, every week, everytime there’s someone willing to listen, we share with them these dreams. We have an entire song and dance that can best any noontime show contestant, to be honest. We’ve had doors closed, but many more have opened. If there’s anything you know about us it’s that we’re quite stubborn especially when it comes to creating a better food system where the small farmers and ordinary consumers are protected and have a voice. 

And so we continue the work of re-imagining this world where Every Filipino is Fed. This is the dream. Time to eat, everyone. Care to join us?


Published by goodfoodcommunity

Good Food Community is an alternative distribution system based on ethical and ecological farming that transforms consumers into co-producers.

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