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The Cabiokid Project, Philippines

by Salwah Khan

Communities throughout the world have formed sustainable utopias which would make you rethink our attachment to the city life. Permaculture holds an imperative connection with nature; it carries respect for natures ways through its use of tools/technology, finances, community governance and building.

Various places throughout the world can be seen as blueprints for beautifully crafted sustainable ecovillages.

Modern farming techniques have caused negative impacts on communities and a town in the Philippines answered their frustrations back in 2011 on an 11-acre farm. The Cabiokid Project, is located north of Manila and is one of the leading communities of sustainability in South East Asia. Three decades later, the Cabiokid Project, has blossomed into a community of residents studying and creating diversified agricultural, forest and aquaculture areas. Founders, Bert Peeters and Estrelito Santos, began a community with 15 permanent residents, who are a mixed group of local people. Soon, other visitors began studying the site and returned to their home regions to apply regenerative-design techniques in their own ecosystems.

The Cabiokid project began on land that was previously a monoculture farm but possessed the benefit of being well irrigated rice land. Zones of permaculture are illustrated in the Cabiokid Project as they used the soil gathered from digging the aquaculture ponds to create the vegetable gardens (zone 1 & 2), a reforestation area and an orchard. Zone 4, is the forested parts of the land, minimally managed and provide the residents with root crops, fruits, spices and other wild-harvested foods. Building a self-sufficient food system, Cabiokid is able to feed its residents and visitors from the community’s own garden supply of fruit, vegetables and grains as well as animal products. They do source some supplemental food from neighboring local places which allows for the transmission of food, love and sustainability education.

Regenerative Design of Cabiokid Project:

Houses consists of composting toilets, rainfall collectors and gray water systems. Cabiokid Project is an ensemble of a farmhouse, classroom, office, a workshop, guesthouse with a terrace and garden as well as the main communal home house with a kitchen. Throughout the site there are scattered tent and bamboo cabins; homes for students, workers and guests. The food processing center that is located on site, is built out of bamboo and fueled by renewable energy. Roofs are made of natural plant materials harvested from nipa, (mangrove swamp palms), cogon (tropical dryland grasses) and anahaw (Philippine fan palm). Most roofs have skylights to allow for passive solar gain and all resident houses and communal structures have rainwater collecting systems.

As the site progressed from a monoculture rice field into a diversified, blooming permaculture site, Cabiokid also involved community members and local people to develop entrepreneurship opportunities on site. A women’s cooperative was established to assist women to work in or with Cabiokid on green livelihood opportunities. Positions for income making range from growing vegetables in the garden, to beekeeping, making shoes, soap and bamboo bikes, bottling fruit juices and many other activities. The purpose of creating a project where it is ran by the people who live and work at the site and own the land collectively, is to minimize the necessity of migrating to work in the city. Leaving ancestral roots and healthy living, for steady income, uproots families as they chase for more cash to support unsustainable urban lifestyles.

The Cabiokid Project allows one to carry our ancestor’s heritage and defines intelligence through nature’s way. It is a beautiful sustainable eco-village that many non-profits/farms/businesses can look up to in order for communities all throughout the world to not be pressured into the capitalist framework of high production and profitability.

Drone view of Cabiokid Project below:

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