The Philippines is blessed with fertile land and a climate well suited to crop production but the Asian island nation imports 70% of its chocolate, milk and cheese and much of its rural population lives in poverty. An Enchanted Farm may sound whimsical but it’s a very real attempt by Filipino community development foundation Gawad Kalinga to address these problems and at the same time break down the social divisions between rich and poor, peasant and professional, that hamper agricultural advances.
The actual enchantment is simple enough magic; the farm is a mixture of meeting place, market and college that encourages and supports farmers and small scale agricultural cooperatives by bringing them together with innovators, technological activists, social investors and educators. By adding cafés and social enterprise demos to attract like-minded international visitors, they hope to make Enchanted Farms the ‘Disneyland of Social Development Tourism.’ The model is applicable in any country with similar economic and social problems, land and a willing population to work it. As the organisers say: “There’s no reason for any Filipino to be poor”.
Michael is a former British Magazine Writer of the Year and two times Columnist of the Year. He is a regular contributor to Wired, author of a social history of the AK47 and his cultural and travel writing appears in the Financial Times and New Statesman.
Antonio Meloto ‘Tito Tony’, Founder, Gawad Kalinga