What is the Tao Farm Project?

We started to look into ways in which farmers work with nature as opposed to the destructive slash and burn techniques. In June 2011 Tao broke ground on the Organic Farm Project in order to research ways in which islanders could sustainably produce our own food. The Farm is now part of the Tao Kalahi Foundation, using local traditional knowledge combined with new research and techniques, we are experimenting and exploring ways in which we can produce our own food, reducing the reliance on the catch from the sea.

The Farm is designed on Permaculture ethics and principles.

Known as the last frontier of South East Asia, Palawan had a very small population until 1970s. The province sat far out west and was known only for malaria and deadly tropical diseases. It remained relatively untouched until fishing immigrants from the rest of the Visayas started to migrate here for the abundant fishing. Over the years humans have taken more than their fair share of the ocean’s bounty and, at present, overfishing has led to a huge reduction in fish stocks and the sea no longer produces enough to support the industry that is the lifeline of towns, villages and small families in the region.

In response to this problem the fishing communitites are turning to the land and the forests to feed their families. However, the skills needed to tend the land are totally different from making a living out at sea. During the late summer one can see huge swathes of mountain hillside going up in smoke, clearing land in preparation for planting. This method allows for only one mediocre harvest, but renders the soil sterile for the following 5 years. It is incredibly wasteful use of the forest, to burn it for low grade fertiliser for one crop. The damage is catastrophic and long lasting, degrading the land, soil, water systems.

The Farm is designed on Permaculture ethics and principles. Permaculture is a philosophy of working with rather than against nature; so we must work to understand how natural systems operate and their relate to each other. Then we can work with these natural systems to design a farm that supplies all our human needs without destroying the environment, depleting water systems and degrading the soil. This means that we can live here in this beautiful place for an indefinite period of time, with all our food, medicine and building material needs satisfied. Permaculture allows us as humans to become a positive element in the natural environment and not the most destructive, as we too commonly are.

Currently, the farm is growing garden vegetables, herbs and tomatoes, papayas, bananas, coconuts and seasonal fruit trees, rice, broad acre crops, mungo beans, sweet potato, corn, cassava, livestock such as pigs and ducks for meat and eggs.