The Farm(ed) Life: Project HOPE Demo Farm

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Armed with a camera and my mint-colored Starbucks tumbler, my co-workers and I trudged towards the Project HOPE Demo Farm located at the far-flung Zamboanga Ecozone in San Ramon, Talisayan. HOPE stands for Helping Others Prosper Economically - pretty neat eh? It's a project initiated by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) 9 to help displaced workers of the fishing and canning industry during the Closed Fishing Season from December to February, every year.

How does DOLE help them? Displaced workers are given emergency employment of about 15 days to work on the farm - which includes all farm-related activities such as plot and seedling preparation, planting the actual seeds, harvesting, etc - and eventually selling produce to suppliers in the city.

We were tasked to take videos of the developments that took place within the last few months. A few greenhouses were added to the farm. I was one of those who saw the changes that happened to the farm. The then DOLE Regional Director Ofelia B. Domingo initiated the project in 2017. Since I worked as her secretary in that year, I was privy to everything that went on with the project.

I witnessed when it was then just a patch of land without structures that were now there. Since partnering with local canning companies, farm hands have constructed several greenhouses to plant chili, ginger, chives, radish - all of which are essential ingredients for sardine-making. 

I talked to Ate Jean, the president of the agricultural cooperative, as she showed me around. I can see how proud she was of the farm's progress. She took me to a greenhouse that held all the healthy, bright green hydroponic lettuces that they planted in early February. She said that since learning how to farm, the beneficiaries had been earning from selling produce in night markets and even from the Ecozone's employees alone. They'd earn from 3,000-5,000 pesos in a day.

We asked farm beneficiaries to do a little re-enactment for us since we need to capture videos that reflect daily life at the farm. It was a good thing that they were eager and excited to act! They even harvested petchay for us to take home - it was a good day! Even their bitter gourds or ampalaya were bigger that the ones we buy at the grocery stores.

I thanked God that day for giving us a cloudy weather - we thought it was going to rain since we can see rain clouds from miles away but we were spared from an otherwise muddy experience. The air was a bit humid and I had to chug down a lot of water to stay hydrated. Nevertheless, we were able to accomplish what we went there for so all is well that ends well!

📍Project HOPE Demo Farm
Zamboanga ECOZONE
San Ramon, Talisayan
Zamboanga City


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