Photos from Danielle Angeles

A Chinese proverb once taught, “teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime”. MINT College, with its Social Entrepreneurship program, and Ignite Manila, a nonprofit organization, joined forces to initiate “farm tourism” in the town of San Jose, Batangas.

 

Several MINT students, led by Tony Meloto, MINT program head and founder of the non-profit organization Gawad Kalinga, visited a newly established farm village last October 27 for their class. The farm, called “Paraiso Village Farm”, aims to break the stigma that rural communities are “dead ends” for any economic activity.

 

Just as how its name suggests, the spacious area is lush with various fruit and wood trees, and a vegetable garden. It grows its own products. Visitors are treated to fresh goods organically grown from the farm. Its overall ambiance as a vacation place is serene and welcoming. Huts are put up at different parts of the farm to cater to visitors who like to escape the daily hustle for a while. 

 

MINT students, along with some faculty members, learned that the Paraiso farm thrives on “sustainable prosperity”—it being a farm—by producing their own raw materials for the products that they would make and sell. The farm also reignites the dignity of labor lost on people from the marginalized communities, especially from the far-flung rural areas by employing them to keep the farm running.

 

In addition, the farm initiative also declares that their staff co-owns the land with a 30% share, besides their monthly wages. Paraiso farm is truly a village effort; everyone contributes to its growth and longevity as an enterprise and as a community.

 

The village farm also managed to address several issues being faced by people from the rural areas. The struggles being the lack of job opportunities in rural communities, lack of dignity in labor, and misuse of available lands.

However, Paraiso farm has brought changes in the province. It became the community’s source of income, and most importantly, empower the families who keep the place running by acknowledging them as not just mere employees, but as owners of the farm village as well. That is, taking into account their efforts at the Paraiso village farm. W

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