September 2021
Last month we held a gathering of our founding farmers' association, the Benguet Association of Seed Savers (BASS). The group is composed of two ethnolinguistic groups: Ibaloy and Kankana-ey with about 70% of the members being women. 

The challenges of the last year have been many, but we are grateful to be able to gather again and share stories and experiences with our farmer-partners. The GSS/P Staff conducted a focus group discussion with BASS members for them to share about how the pandemic has impacted their lives and how they have learned both challenging and positive lessons through it all.

It is humbling to know that in spite of the challenges that this pandemic has brought to BASS members and their families, most agree that there are many positive things that came as well. Letty, BASS’s President expressed: “However difficult the pandemic was, there were several good things that came from it. One is that our children realized the value of our work as farmers. The lockdown had caused us to be closer and communicate more often. Also, my children are able to help me out on the farm so I get to interact with them more. Now they see that in spite of the lockdown, we are able to provide for ourselves, because we are farmers."
Macario Toyan, another BASS farmer shared kuneg seeds that he got from his farm. He recounted how, in the aftermath of the 1990s major earthquake, when there was not enough food to go around, indigenous food like kuneg sustained them. He said, "dagitoy ti nangbibiyag ken dakami idi" [these kept us alive in those times].

"This pandemic made me realize how important indigenous seeds are in terms of survival. Plants that were just introduced here needed more inputs and maintenance, not a secure food in times of adversity. Indigenous foods [such as Kuneg] grow easily and are virtually maintenance-free. I can rely on it more to survive when a crisis hits.” 
NOVEMBER 3rd-19th, 2021

Karen will be speaking on Friday, November 5th from
7:30-8:15 am MST. Please learn more and register here.
("The Planting of Seed")

Exploring the health implications
of food sovereignty movements in the Philippines.
We are honored to have launched this collective project that has been many years in the making! The focus of this dynamic collaborative research project is to gather community stories of how connections to food, land, and seeds help individuals heal from historical trauma and build truly sovereign communities with strong health outcomes. Health in the broadest sense including: physical, mental, social, emotional, cultural, the health of the land, etc. 

Dr. Antonia Alvarez is a longtime friend and supporter of GSS and through her vision and leadership for this research, our collective work is underway. Guided by our local Design Team including Karen, our Philippines Executive Director, and Teresa the Executive Director of our partner NGO in Cebu CAFEi, we have been meeting for the last year to organize our vision for this work. Last month we launched the Community Advisory Board composed of 10 dynamic Filipino leaders in the food justice and seed sovereignty movement throughout the country. The CAB is made up of food advocates, NGO leaders, professors, doctors, indigenous people, and more. We will be conducting community interviews in the coming months and working with each of these partners to compile the interviews and stories unearthed. We look forward to sharing more as this project progresses. 

“This collaboration with Global Seed Savers and CAFEi is a dream come true! For me, this project team centers on the ethic of community care, cultural healing/well-being, and food, which are three of my most beloved things! Each project partner brings with their deep commitment to the work, expertise related to food, health, and healing, and will help to make this project an amazing success. On a personal level, being able to do work back in my ancestral homelands of the Philippines with dear friends and colleagues is an incredibly moving, humbling experience, and especially as we are figuring out how to do this during the complicated times that we are in!”
-Dr. Antonia Alvarez, Portland State University
Graduate School of Social Work


"I chose to complete my field placement with GSS because their advocacy work towards food and seed sovereignty and because the organization embodies my values of environmental justice." 
We are excited to have Anjanette join the GSS Team as a Graduate Fellow. She is currently completing her Master's in Environmental Management with a focus on Global Sustainability at Western Colorado University and is based in Seattle, WA. 

With years of climate justice advocacy for equitable and sustainable food systems in local and global communities, Anjanette is an eager, enthusiastic, and extremely grateful Global Seed Savers Fellow whose ambition to change the world is matched only by her love of community. She is also a proud Filipina-American with matrilineal roots in Bohol. 
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Global Seed Savers! Invest in our future today!