Organic Certifier helps a Microfinance NGO design and Model Farm

Posted on 08/25/2023

I was first introduced to Grameen Foundation and the host organization Ahon sa Hirap (ASHI) almost two years ago through a mutual connection. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Grameen was doing a few fully remote Farmer-to-Farmer assignments. I ended up volunteering with ASHI for two consecutive remote assignments over the next several months. In July 2023 I reached out to Michael about potential assignments in the Philippines, and as Michael said, “it felt that the stars aligned” that I could come and volunteer with ASHI at the end of this current Farmer-to-Farmer cycle. And for me it felt serendipitous that I could finally meet the organization that I had known virtually for nearly two years.

ASHI recently moved their head office to Pililla, Rizal earlier this year. Next to the office lays a 1 hectacre area which will become a model farm that will serve as a learning center for farming and postharvest technology, as well as be a place for agrotourism, where visitors can visit to enjoy the views, eat fresh produce, and learn about farming. Together, we visited several area farms to collect ideas and talk to farmers about their experiences with organic farming, use of a greenhouse, and integrated farming. Then we worked together to prioritize a list of ideas into 3 stages for the model farm: high priority, medium priority, and low priority. ASHI already has a clear vision for the farm, and as a volunteer, I was able to contribute additional ideas and layout the design for the model farm.

During my two week stay, I learned a lot about Filipino people: their optimism, fondness for snacks and taking photos, and their kindness toward me. I wish ASHI all the best with their agrotourism project. And maybe one day I can return to see what they’ve done with the model farm.

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