Our Original Letter to some Seed Companies:

Subject: Tropical heritage subsistence foods
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2013 15:10:24 +0800

Dear Seed Company,

My wife and I are looking for heritage/heirloom seeds that will provide easy to grow subsistence foods, without commercial fertilizer, in a tropical climate at sea level on the island of Bohol in the Philippines. Edible plants that will improve soil are particularly welcome.

We already have coconuts, bananas and papaya and our lot is fairly shady -although there are a few sunny areas -some of which are seasonal with regards to sunlight. Local loofah, winged and string beans, Malabar spinach, taro, ginger, turmeric and pandaan, etc., seem to grow quite happily -but it would be nice to extend the variety to more exotic but equally sustainable sources of nutrition and (perhaps later) extend the genetic base of existing crops.

We have around 500 sq meters available for vegetables and are happy to experiment but are not seasoned gardeners. Local knowledge is also somewhat limited as we live in an area seemingly slightly lost somewhere between rural roots and an uncertain economic "development" based on a global urbanity. We are not fanatics, but it would be nice if we could help preserve a feeling of pride in subsistence gardening. The local economy does not seem powerful enough to support "livelihood projects" because few people have incomes. Our approach is more practical than ideological -but for practical reasons, crops need to be as self-sustaining as possible.

The soil is initially rather hard when dry -but improves by adding chopped coir and through cultivation. Parts of the garden are somewhat "polluted" by mahogany leaves -mostly from neighbouring plots. Rainfall does vary, being particularly wet in January/February and again in June to October -but a strict division between wet and dry seasons does not seem valid. Rain is often at night -but cloudy days without without rain are also not unknown.

Could you help us by advising a list of potentially suitable products which you recommend and could supply us with in the Philippines? Some growing information and tips would also be useful. Initially, we are thinking of small experimental orders to test viability.

Best wishes,
Trevor Batten/Fatima Lasay


Project Home Farm

Trevor Batten
 <trevor at tebatt dot net>
 Baclayon 2013