What's New At The Farm?
Here is a little sample of what we've been growing at the farm. These crops were planted in September, and by December they were ready for harvest. They will be sold at local markets and help feed the local community!
What Is The Red Farm?
In July 2015, we launched a pilot agro-social enterprise project in the Philippines called The Red Farm, short for REDemption Farm. The project is designed to address the core issues facing small farmers and local at-risk children. As it grows, the farm will evolve into a community-based program that will provide food, jobs and empowerment for all members of the community.
This farm will serve as a place of hope, growth and redemption for everyone involved.
WHY START A FARM?
Bukidnon is a landlocked province on Mindanao, the third largest island in the Philippines. Despite being the major food producer for the Mindanao region, it is among the poorest provinces in the Philippines. According to a 2013 report from the National Statistic Coordination Board, 43 in 100 families are below the poverty line.
The tribal communities, living predominantly in the remote countryside, rely solely on farming for their means of survival. But long running civil conflicts, government neglect and corrupt middleman systems have left communities broken and people desperate. Poverty and hunger are rampant, and there is little opportunity for work or sustainable income. A strong, rebel army presence puts children at high risk of recruitment and creates an even more volatile environment.
But there is hope. By providing a practical, alternative solution to the survival and livelihood issues, we can empower the communities and provide opportunities for children to reach beyond the bleak reality of their current circumstances.
The project has four main goals. First, the project will be a safe place where young gangsters who were formerly caught up in drugs, robbery, murder, sexual assaults, and armed conflict can continue their rehabilitation. Secondly, the project will provide employment opportunities for at-risk youth and show them an alternative and sustainable way of life outside the army. The project will also use profits from the farm to fund various activities like a feeding program for street kids and scholarships for indigenous children enrolled in our Bukidnon schools. And finally, the project will be a pilot for replication and expansion into other conflict areas.
Preparing the Land
The farm is strategically located on 3.5 hectares (2.4 acres) of land just outside the city of Malaybalay, beside the Can-ayan riverbank, in an area ideal for vegetable planting with easy accessibility to the community and local market. It will produce pechay (a type of cabbage) as the main vegetable crop, as well as eggplants, string beans, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and green peppers. Eventually, the farm will hopefully include livestock like chickens and pigs.
In July, our team and partners worked tirelessly clearing the land and preparing the soil for crop planting.
meet the beneficiaries
In Malaybalay, the capitol city of Bukidnon, Richard Sibayan is fighting to better the lives of former gangsters and street kids. His, program called the Malaybalay Youth Transformation Movement (MYTM), is one of the primary beneficiaries of the farm. The MYTM seeks to rehabilitate young gangsters and give them hope for a future beyond crime and violence. The 21 kids currently in the program, who range from ages ten to eighteen, are part of a world where drugs and alcohol are the norm and most of them admit they did it out of boredom. It’s this kind of aimless but harmful decision making that Sibayan is trying to change.
For Richard and the MYTM gangsters, Red Farm means sustainable income and productivity instead of unemployment and constant hunger. As they work the farm, gain business skills through market sales and develop personal work ethics, the young men will be encouraged toward brighter futures and empowered to become advocates of peace in their communities.
By investing in the youth and equipping them for successful futures outside the gangs and rebel armies, we are not only changing their lives, we are also helping them lay a foundation for future generations that will work to stop the cycles of violence and poverty in their communities.
hope for the community
The local communities will also reap great benefits from Red Farm. The previously unused land, now teeming with lush vegetables and active with farmers tending to the crops, will be a source of hope and a constant reminder of the change that is possible. It will bring opportunities for employment, additional food provisions, a prominent place in local markets and the ability to sell produce completely independent of the corrupt middleman systems.
In March 2016, a group from Conduit Mission spent time at Red Farm working alongside our Red Farm staff and the young men of our local partner organization, MYTM. The team loved their time at our farm!