The fun is over, and the research has begun.
After going through our 7-day challenge and a week of meeting with our supervisors, we have finally set the terms for our research projects. As a part of our internship, we are required to keep an activity log, keep an active blog, conduct research on topics given to us/ topics that we see necessary within the farm, and reflect on the knowledge gained upon returning from our trip.
For our work on the farm, we are required to engage in farming activities with community members and basically serve where we are needed. At the same time, we are expected to work and get involved with the student-run enterprises. This task is posing a problem right now since most of the students are either on break or busy harvesting mangos.
Project 1: Video Content
- This is my personal, side-project that I hope to give the most time to, as I believe it is the most necessary aspect GKEF is missing. I have begun conducting interviews with the owners of enterprises on the farm and a select group of students/ community members. For the enterprises, I would like to get the story of what they do and their contribution to ending poverty in the Philippines up and running on the GK website in order to enhance their marketing presence and give people an idea of what is going on here on the farm. My goal is to gather the content and then, beginning in August, work with someone with more experience in website design, to create an interactive map that outlines the farm and its enterprises. For the people, I am interested in getting their personal stories online and on the blog for the world to hear. There is no question that the greatest part about Gawad Kalinga is the people and their stories. never have such stories had such an impact on me personally, especially in such a short period of time. I believe that everyone back home could benefit and learn something if they have the opportunities to hear what I have heard.
Project 2: Eco-bricks
- I will be working with one of the French interns to develop and implement a system of eco-brick construction on the farm. In short, eco-bricks are a collection of used/ recycled plastic bottles that are filled with trash and used as building infrastructure. This is a great form of recycling that is really beginning to poke its head out the door in the Philippines. This will be my main research project. My 3 goals with this project will be:
- 1. To create a community outreach program.
- 2. To create a youth outreach program
- 3. To create a demo for the GK management team and potential Sponsors.
Project 3: Friendchips/ renewable energy options for agriculture
- I have been asked to assist with research for the social enterprise: FriendChips. This enterprise creates healthy, and creative snack alternatives for the Philippines. My job is to research more efficient methods of drying and packaging the products. At the moment, I am looking into different chemical preservatives that can enhance the process while also trying to create a solar dehydrator; allowing them to abandon their current method of using an oven, for a renewable, self-sustaining drying system.
Project 4: Natural pesticides
- Us interns have been separated into 2 different groups of 2 for our final projects. The first project is the renewable energy options for agriculture which I will be working on with Jake. For the second, Jill and I will be looking into creating a business model for a natural pesticide social enterprise. We are currently in the stage of researching Filippino agriculture. This includes problematic pests, current herbicides and insecticides used in farming, and natural solutions/ replacements for these mentioned factors. In the coming weeks, we will be presenting the business model at a GK-run business camp for social entrepreneurs. Wish us luck!
Project 5: Composting and waste management
- We had been looking into creating and implementing a compost system within the farm, as the one created a couple years ago fell through. We met another French intern who began recreating a compost system in a section of the farm. She was unable to complete the project, as she did not have the manpower. So beginning sometime this week, we will be assisting her with that. We are also looking into raising community awareness for waste management. There is a decent amount of trash lying around the farm. The reason for this is that there are not many disposal bins/ areas and education on the subject is minimal to non-existent amongst community members. We are going to try and create waste/ recycle bins out of compost and create signage for them. We are also going to go into the local schools/ community to try and give information sessions on the importance of proper waste management for the surrounding environment.
Project 6: Azolla Pond
- This project I am not so sure about. We have been given the task of improving the Azolla Pond which is a 6×6 ft concrete-enclosed pond with no room for expansion. Nobody in the farm has any information on Azolla and all we know about its current use is that it is fed to livestock. We did find out that it can be used as a fertilizer in rice cultivation so I guess that might be the route we take. We’ll see about this one.
This is a lot to do in only two months. But the thing we have going for us is the fact that there is not much else to do on the farm other than work and research. In addition, every Friday we will be traveling to other GK villages in Bulacan to get a taste of how GK is run outside of the farm. The next blog post will be uploaded once I have a progress report on some of the projects.
In other news, Jill and I found the local gym and got memberships. That’s where we’re headed right now. Catch you later!