A visit to Kai farms is like being transported to another world. A world where every organism- people, plants, insects all live in harmony and give and take from each other. One feels this energy when walking through the threshold of the farm, demarcated only by bamboo poles. Kai farms is located in Cavite, accessed by a small road that winds up the hills of the Tagaytay- Cavite border. Once you start climbing the hills in the car, the air becomes noticeably crisper and cleaner. To access the farm, you walk down a path, where the vibe and the environment around you is transformed.
Karla Delgado and Amena Bal , when asked about their position, refer to themselves as earth leaders- run the farm with a holistic approach. The farmers are referred to as ‘ earth leaders and earth workers’ as that is precisely what they do. When they first got the land to farm on, the ground was acidic as it was a coffee plantation 21 years ago. The farm was under the stewardship of Karla’s family, and was already considered an organic farm, however it did not use the natural methods they use today. Karla recalls that the mulch used was plastic mulch because many certified organic farms use plastic mulch as it is recommended as the latest farm technology. Karla and Amena introduced the concept of regenerative agriculture where they worked with nature and what is available to make plant tonics, compost and mulch to feed the soil so that what is grown is chemical free and nutrient rich. Amena Bal when asked what Kai stands for put their objectives in such a beautiful way, ‘ Kai farms is a symbol of Earth care, people care and fair abundant share. Inspired by actions of reciprocity, refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, restore revive, regenerate calling for people to rethink the impact of their daily consumption beliefs and behaviour. Promoting ethical Earth friendly production and consumption.’
Kai farms practices the Seed Savers program and run seed school, wherein the seeds from the plants they have are saved and collected again. They preserve heirloom and indigenous varieties to protect biodiversity. Their living tree museum is a testament to this where we saw varieties that we had never seen before. They also open this program to educate other farmers. We learned that commercial farms make use of genetically treated seeds that bear fruit that have no seed! I had no idea there was even such a thing. Farmers are forced to keep buying seeds and eventually fall into debt. There are even some farms that are certified organic that make use of treated seeds, even though their farming method is organic. You can never tell where your food comes from!
The entire farm is a zero waste haven.
To nurture their seedlings, instead of using plastic or styrofoam, Kai makes use of rolled up banana leaves and filled with soil, to make sure that no plastic or contaminants come into the food. Visitors are encouraged to bring their food to share and to bring reusable containers. Our meal was shared with the people who took care of the land, while a beautiful salad made of edible flowers and greens freshly picked. During our visit, they were in the middle of upgrading their rain water collection set up, made entirely of re used materials on the farm. Rain water is used to water the crops. Kai farms practices permaculture, where several crops are planted together that compliment each other, and make sure the land is always thriving. Unlike other farms, Kai’s vegetable patches are not linear, but instead follow the lay of the land. This is so that the soil retains maximum nutrition and that it does not wash away when it rains.
Kai farms is part of the Slow Food movement, where they preserve traditional and regional plants and therefore has a great variety of indigenous trees and herbal and medicinal plants. They are also active members of Terra Madre, the global network of sustainable food communities of Slow Food. Everything about Kai farms promotes their beliefs to use what is local and use every part of the plant. Through them, I discovered the uses for avocado and guyabano leaves that they sent in the harvest basket. These leaves are boiled to create teas that are beneficial for healing- from lowering sugar, cholesterol, boosting immunity to aiding memory loss. My current favourite leafy green, Talinum is grown in abundance here, benefiting from the land its grown on. Its leaves are a little sweet, a little sour, but full of crunch and is loaded with vitamins. Kai is the ideal place for it to grown as Talinum absorbs heavy metals from the surrounding areas, and the land here is nothing but clean. Visiting the farm opened our eyes to so many ways to heal the earth and to restore it to what God intended for it to be and gives us hope that land can be restored. The work they are doing on the farm is reversing the effects of the modern world, a back to basics approach to growing sustainable food. The proof is in the pudding- or the crunchy fresh produce so full of life.
Learn more about Kai farms and order your produce from them!