Virgie Vidad and Fr Oliver McCrossan provide an update on the Pedalling to Live Eco Farm in the Philippines.
The Pedalling to Live project was initiated by Fr Oliver McCrossan and the management of Ozamiz City People’s Bank to uplift the lives of the tricycle drivers and their families in Ozamiz City, Philippines.
With the help of generous Columban benefactors in different countries, the project was able to go ahead and develop a housing community where all the residents are the tricycle drivers.
The houses were made of local materials, such as rice straw, rice hull, clay and bamboo. All the beneficiaries came together to build these houses.
At present there are 16 houses built within the compound. Families are happy to pay a small monthly fee until they can pay for the house.
They are required to pay this monthly contribution because the payment is used for the other needs of the family such as medical assistance and school supplies for the children every year.
Last year, the vacant lot of the Pedalling to Live community was developed into an eco-farm using organic technology. The land totals about 600 sq. metres and had lain unused for many years.
We did a lot of work in filling the area with stone and soil to elevate the ground. This eco farm serves as a learning site for the people, especially those living in the urban and coastal areas, to engage in planting vegetables in their backyard with containers, raised bed and bamboo, using organic technology.
Senior high school students are the targets for training as it helps them with part of their curriculum in the area of agriculture.
Between February and March 2020, 31 senior high school students from Katipunan National High School did 10 days immersion on the Pedalling eco farm. A women’s group based in Ozamiz have also been trained at the eco farm.
The housing beneficiaries are also engaged in backyard gardening to provide food for their families and they sell the surplus at the market. Children are also given a chance to engage in the farm at least once a week to learn how to grow their own vegetable plots.
Inside the farm we are growing lettuce, radish, kangkong, blue ternate, bitter gourd, ginger, garlic, sweet potato, tomato, cucumber, dill, fennel, sage, spinach, different herbs, fruit trees, strawberries, and different flowering plants to welcome butterflies and bees.
A small nursery and greenhouse was built on the farm so that we can grow different types of plants during rainy and sunny days.
We have also a small piggery using Korean technology. Waste from the pigs is being used as our fertilizers mixed with compost. A water pump was installed, and we are using drip irrigation to water the plants.
The income from the farm produce is used for the needs of the community and to pay our staff.
Through the generous support we receive we continue to add new elements to the project. We hope to develop in the future a small fishpond inside the farm and build a small house for goats.
The local department of agriculture have given us a grass shredder, which will be a great help in making compost.
We are now in the process of applying for accreditation as a Diversified Learning Site for organic agriculture in our Region. We are building a training/seminar hall which is one of the requirements.
On behalf of the Pedalling to Live/Green Shelter community we extend our heartfelt thanks to all our kind benefactors.
Support Columban projects by donating online here: https://columbans.ie/donate/ You can send a donation by post to: Missionary Society of St Columban, Dalgan Park, Navan, Co Meath, C15 AY2Y.