Planting a seed is often likened to beginnings, growth, and new life — something you’d know if you paid attention to all those biblical idioms and parables from high school Religion class. All those classes weren’t wrong, though. For farmers, seeds are their whole lives.
It makes you wonder why we spend most of our lives throwing seeds away. I mean, when was the last time you kept the seed from the mango you ate?
Little do we know, the seeds we discard can provide food and livelihood for entire generations of rural communities. For Seed Nation founder Raf Dionisio, all it took was a talk with Aetas of Yangil, Pampanga to realize that there was an opportunity for regular folk to help out.
Raf, who is also a co-founder of The Circle Hostel in La Union and a founder of sustainable tourism organization Mad Travel, discovered that the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 left the Aetas with barren land and nothing to plant, even if they had all the skills to do so. After consulting with the tribe members and emailing contacts from the DENR and related organizations, they were able make the area suitable for planting again.
Seed Nation’s mission is to bring donated seeds to tribes in need. While the practice of seed saving and storage is common for reforestation projects, the project encourages us common folk to save our seeds and send them to the communities that depend on them for their livelihood.
Admittedly, saving seeds doesn’t have the same Instagramable appeal of the eco brick and metal straw movements. “Seed saving isn’t sexy. It’s kind of gross,” confesses Seed Nation Project Head Romano Santos. “You see someone holding fruits and you’re like “Eww that came from your mouth”.
To remedy that, they’ve partnered with places like A’Toda Madre Tequila Bar in Poblacion to make drinks using local fruits like guyabano, avocado, mangosteen, and rambutan (dare we say that the Guyabano Margarita, made with 100% blue agave was even better than the regular one) for the purpose of saving their seeds afterwards. Other partner places include Earth Kitchen, Curator, Makai Bowls, Hillside Cafe and Juice Bar, and Raf’s own Circle Hostel.