Having encountered Farmer Jon on FB for the first time, this Indian-looking man wearing an Indian headdress has led me into a discovery that he is not an American Indian but a true-blue Filipino farmer of San Narciso, Victoria, Oriental Mindoro – just another Filipino pride with a special message to impart to the world.
Seeing him in person talking with intense passion in front of attendees, I could say, Mr. Jonjon B. Sarmiento /Farmer Jon is no ordinary farmer at all. All seemed to be so eager to learn from his orientation seminar about the Integrated Diversified Farming System (IDOFS), a free seminar sponsored by Spread Organic Farming in the Philippines (SOAP) in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DA), and was held at the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), Quezon City last June 20, 2014.
If you were there and had tried scanning the crowd, it’s obvious that his audience were coming from all walks of life: ordinary citizens and farmers, rich land owners and businessmen, and some politicians including the surprised presence of DA Sec. Proceso Alcala who had spent more than an hour listening to this “salakot”- wearing- farmer in black sweatshirt and blue jeans.
Prior to leaving the venue,Secretary Alcala thanked Farmer Jon and everybody telling that he was also a part of the seminar – a student, just like the rest of us learning from Farmer Jon.
The topics discussed revolved around Farmer Jon’s three main goals:
- Spirituality and Care for the Earth (to help save mother earth and the humanity from catastrophic global warming and climate change)
- Widespread Injustice on Food Security/Hunger and Poverty (alleviating hunger and poverty through practicing and teaching small farmers and communities for food sustainability), and
- Land Security for Farmers (soil preservation/nourishment not through mono-cropping practices but through IDOFS).
About Farmer Jon as a Speaker
During the seminar, Farmer Jon was like a standup comedian cracking jokes every now and then. A self-proclaimed- pastor-sounding- farmer, he was preaching the bible verses valuing God’s creation, nature, and the lives of our forefathers. With his funny twists of stories he invented, stirring people into fits of laughter seemed easy for him. One great example is the secret of Noah’s Ark.
He went on by asking: “Hangang hanga talaga ako kay Noah (on saving a pair of all animals of the planet); di nyo ba alam ang secret ng woodpecker? Binutasan ng woodpecker ang arko at ang ginawa ni Noah ay tinapalan bawat butas ng cow dung! (I really admired Noah; don’t you know the secret about the woodpeckers? The woodpeckers drilled holes on Noah’s Ark, and all what Noah did was to patch each hole with cow dung!)”
As I listened to his story, I was imagining how many holes two woodpeckers could bore around Noah’s ark for the whole 40 days of being out in the flood. Jon added,“…kaya nung naglanding ang arko ni Noah, mukha nang polka dots (That’s why when Noah’s ark finally landed, it was all polka dots!)” Roar of laughter right behind my back, and from everywhere around the seminar hall was all you can hear at that moment.
At some point, a serious discussion about the reality of the small farmers’ accessibility as consumers to healthy food enlightened us about its cruel realities (out of 1.02 billion people around the world 50% were small-time farmers, and 8 out of 10 households are hungry – FNRI survey). On food security issue, Farmer Jon came up with a twist:
“Hindi ba nya (referring to ordinary farmers) pwedeng kainin ang black rice o red rice ? Di ba nya pwedeng kainin ang malalaking saging? Kasi yon ang dinanas ko e! Kaya nagagalit ako sa Tatay ko nuong bata pa ako, kung bakit ang kinakain nami ay may SIPON NA MANOK! (Laughter from audience here) …. At ang binebenta ay yong mga magaganda! Kaya, kung ako ang magkaroon ng kapangyarihan, lahat ng magaganda ay akin muna!” The crowd laughed as they instantly figured out what he was trying to say.
But he is not all of a comedian. How he manages his farm is the evidence of how serious an IDOFS farmer he could be. His own farm area is 4,440 sq. meters – not that big, according to him, but how his pigs are saving him feeds and laborious effort with his one-day-one-meal technique, you can’t help it but admire this organic farmer. He would just throw all the weeds, banana trunks, etc. over the pig’s sty, and the pigs’ meal is given only at the end of the day when it’s already dark and the pigs are about to sleep. This ensures food nourishment to his livestock as they stop moving and go to sleep in full stomach right thereafter. The video below will tell you how.
In his “Kuatro Marias Farm” there are different integration and diversification techniques that he has been practicing. With the author’s permission, here are some of the slides from his PowerPoint presentation.
After the wrath of Haiyan/Yolanda, the typhoon ravaged communities in Leyte benefited from workers and volunteers on a mission to help those unfortunate people, and Farmer Jon was one of them. Working with the typhoon victims, he taught them how to do farming using IDOFS techniques in addressing food security and sustainability of which they were grateful of the outcome.
With his sensible understanding about the human life, the ecosystem, and farming, he would rather be interviewed and known not for who he is, but for his three ultimate goals in alleviating hunger and poverty, fighting climate change and soil preservation through practicing and helping people in an IDOFS way of farming.
His message is clear: each one of us should embrace and practice organic farming and help build sustainable communities for a sustainable world.
For those who want to get in touch with him, hereunder are his contact details:
Jonjon B. “Farmer Jon” Sarmiento
Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager – PAKISAMA
IDOFS Farm Planning Consultant
Farmer-Preneur @ Kuatro Marias’ Farm
Kuatro Marias’ Farm
San Narciso, Victoria,Oriental Mindoro, Philippines