Organic Farming for All | Karla Delgado of Kai Farms
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
Life on a modern farm can be anything you want it to be. In the case of Kai Farms, the convergence of permaculture principles, indigenous plants, and natural healing make it nothing short of magical. Helmed by EO Philippines’ Karla Delgado, Kai Farms takes sustainable and organic farming from buzzwords to a tangible reality for not only her, but for her farmers too.
Kai Farms can be found in Silang, Cavite a scant 50 kilometers outside of Metro Manila. Though it doesn’t sound too far, about a two hour trip away from the capital’s concrete jungle, it is quite the departure. On the farm, life is more serene compared to the iconic hustle, bustle, and traffic of Manila. Here, life is simpler. Kai Farms was once a traditional farm, which has now been transformed to work more in line with nature. The transformation towards becoming more in touch with nature began when they employed permaculture design concepts. Australian consultant Mark Garrett was responsible for introducing designs to work with the natural shape of Kai Farms' land. With his help, the team was able to create an ideal, sustainable, and truly organic farm. In practice, this means that nature takes precedence over efficiency and productivity. The soil at Kai Farms maximizes the use of endemic plant species and natural compost that is indigenous to the ecosystem, without importing fertilizers or external products to “improve” the crops. The end result is a farm that is not only producing responsibly sourced fruits and vegetables, but ensuring that the land isn’t abused.
In 2019, many consumers are becoming more aware of ethical food sourcing. Concepts like farm to table aren’t alien to the more conscious eaters looking for truly organic options. Eating healthier isn’t just a trend anymore, it’s being established as a viable, but at times expensive, lifestyle. Kai Farms does supply to a few sustainability focused outlets, including acclaimed chef Margarita Fores' Grace Park, and plant-based diet focused Mesa ni Misis. Delivering such an excellent product however relies on excellent farmers coming in to work the land. These real people do also need to eat, and Kai Farms understands that food security is a necessity, not wishful thinking. The challenge they faced was growing enough vegetables to meet demand, and ensuring that farmers themselves would have enough after to feed their families as well. The solution came in the form of Kai Farms’ Growing Abundance Project, a seed sharing program that gave farmers access to the same organic, high quality raw materials to grow the vegetables that end up on their own plates. In an interview with Rappler Philippines, Karla Delgado shares, “It was our dream to make organic produce affordable for everyone...so (that our farmers) can do backyard farming which can yield two tons of food in a year”. Those kind of yields allow the farmers to work towards providing the best food for consumers, and put the same produce into their own pantries.
Karla Delgado and her team understand that their mission to make organic food accessible can extend beyond the farm, and beyond providing food security to their farmers. Part of their efforts include visiting communities and teaching them how to best go about sustainable farming, wherever that may be. Their recent work with the youth and homemakers in Brgy. Valuenzuela in Makati City is proof that organic food can grow anywhere. By giving away seeds to these urban communities they work with, and sharing their technical knowledge, Kai Farms' fruit spreads well beyond their idyllic farm. Karla and her team continue to plant the seeds of sustainability wherever they go.
Inspired by their efforts? Want to get a hand at organic farming? You can book a visit to Kai Farms, or follow their journey into sustainable farming through their website, Facebook, and Instagram. Photos by Vic Guerrero.