In the second half of 2018, JTS Philippines acquired a farm and took over the farm operations. However, the farm was neglected because not only did the staff members have little farming experience, but they were also busy managing the JTS Center and dormitory.
Cho Gye-hwan and Park Jeong-seon are organic farmers from South Korea. The couple, first visited the farm between December 2017 and February, 2018. They came to visit JTS Philippines again 10 months later. Mr. Cho was disappointmented by what he saw. “Why has the farm been so neglected?” he said. “In its current state, the JTS community’s goal to be of food self-sufficient is impossible.”
However, after working on the farm for a few days, the couple determined that, luckily, the farm could quickly be restored. They came to the conclusion that in order to improve the state of the farm, it was essential to teach the JTS Philippines staff how to manage the farm. They taught them how to fill out an annual crop season chart, how to seed, how to manage crops, and how to fill a farm/harvest journal — all skills necessary to successfully manage a farm. Two other volunteers, Yoo Jin-young and Im Kyung-soo, who were staying at JTS Philippines Center for a few days, helped Mr. Cho and Mrs. Park restore the farm.
Vegetable Garden Cultivation
Mr. Cho emphasized the importance maintaining a steady supply of vegetables by continuously harvesting and making seedlings based on an annual crop season chart that details seed planting, crop maintenance, and farm operation. Mr. Cho and the other volunteers ploughed the land with shovels and a water cow called “Carabao” and planted seedlings as well as seeds. Thanks to the hard work of all the volunteers, the vegetable garden was soon free of weeds and began filling up with green vegetables.
Repair Work on the Tornado-Torn Greenhouse
In early 2018, JTS Philippines built a greenhouse on the farm using local materials. However, two tornadoes swept through Mindanao in the second half of 2018, and although the greenhouse was repaired, water leaked through the torn vinyl. Additional repair of the greenhouse had been postponed due to lack of manpower. Thanks to Mr. Cho, the greenhouse was finally repaired.
Trip to the Calamansi Farm
Some people suggested growing calamansi on the extra land on the farm. Calamansi is a type of citrus fruit popular in the Philippines. Before making the final decision, JTS Philippines staff members visited the nearest calamansi farm to learn how to grow calamansi and the precautions that need to be taken when growing the fruit. When they explained the purpose of their visit to the calamansi farm owner, he gladly gave them a tour of the farm. The farmer was open to answering even sensitive questions such as those related to profits and did his best to provide as much information as he could. The JTS Philippines staff was grateful for all his help.
Thanks to the help of many people, JTS Philippines staff was able to learn how to farm, establish an annual farming plan, and restore the farm. Since the farm has been restored, it won’t be difficult to carry out the annual farming goals if they follow the crop season chart. JTS Philippines staff was very thankful to all those who volunteered their precious time to work on the farm.