The Don Bosco Demonstration Farm allows graduates and their families to use the land to organize small cooperatives and assists them with sourcing microfinancing, farming assistance and marketing of their agricultural products.
With the funding provided, Salesian missionaries were able to secure two front wheel tires for a John Deere tractor, a portable soy harvester, a roller seed planter, a chisel plow and spring cultivators. Fifteen farmers connected to Don Bosco Legazpi benefited directly from this donation. Some farmers in neighboring areas who utilize the center’s land preparation services, such as plowing and rotavating, have also benefited from the donation.
Aurelio Gonzales, who is a local 80-year-old farmer, was one of the beneficiaries. He has two children who graduated from Don Bosco Legazpi and are now gainfully employed. He is a member of the Don Bosco Cooperative, which serves the broader community of farmers.
Since 2015, Gonzales has utilized the Common Service Facility of Don Bosco Legazpi, especially the use of a 4-wheel drive tractor for plowing and rotavating as part of the land preparation, roller planter for planting, and other post-harvest machines.
In August 2019, Gonzales ventured into sweet corn and yellow corn production. As farmer-beneficiary, he was given access to farm machines from Don Bosco Legazpi. With the technology provided, Gonzales has been empowered and his way of farming has improved from traditional farming into more efficient and effective ways of utilizing his land. The use of mechanical machines and equipment results in a good harvest of his crops.
“We appreciate the funding our donors provided that is enabling students and local farmers to have the proper equipment necessary for updated farming techniques,” says Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Don Bosco Legazpi was specifically opened to provide technical farming education to poor youth with scarce resources, and instruct them in the practical skills of farming to allow them to earn a living and give back to their communities.”
Don Bosco Legazpi offers its students an opportunity to combine theory with practice through its hands-on approach. Students use the skills they learn in the classroom by putting them directly to work in the fields that are part of the center’s farm. They are taught theoretical and practical courses in greenhouses, growing vegetables, cereal crops, gardening, breeding, animal husbandry and veterinary sciences, as well as milk, cheese and dairy products.
Since 1950, Salesian Missions has been providing crucial help in the Philippines—working with at-risk youth, impoverished families and disaster victims. Humanitarian agencies warn of the dangers faced by the most disadvantaged children in the Philippines. According to UNICEF, there are at least 1.2 million children between the ages of 5 and 15 who are out of school and are being left behind. In addition, children born into the poorest 20 percent of the population are almost three times more likely to die during their first five years as those from the richest 20 percent.