Why We Started

"Being burdened by the medical condition that the nature of genetics brought to him and his own family, Jemuel “Jem” Gabuna, an organic farmer located in one of the busy streets of Marikina, ventured on a healthy lifestyle. His main issue is the source of organic and nutritious food, which based on his experience and study, the commercial markets could no longer provide. This prompted Jemuel to join a wellness group that hosted Dr. Gina Caballero, Dr. Des Dolohan, and Life Coach Edgar Ramos as main speakers, challenging the members to plant for themselves their food to eat.

Catastrophe, most of the time, breeds opportunities. When Typhoon Ondoy landed on the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR), flooding the village that Jemuel was living in by half a meter, eighty household owners withheld their interest in building their own home in that same village. This caused many vacant lots to be idle. However, amidst the negativity brought by the seeming devastation, on September 25, 2010, Jemuel decided to awaken the idle soil in the village and tilled approximately 240 square meters of land lying right in front of his house. On this ground, he put up a vermihouse that cultured African Night Crawlers (ANCs) which in return provided a natural fertilizer, vermicast.

For further enhancement of his knowledge and skills on organic farming, the Agriculture Training and Institute (ATI), located in Quezon City, sent Jemuel to Costales Nature Farms studying the production of various crops organically.

As Jemuel’s knowledge on organic farming grew, so did his garden. Not being able to do the work alone, he hired 3 other farmers residing nearby, and they are currently worked on a 1,500 square meter arable land growing crops like Lettuce, Spinach, Arugula, Kale, Upland Kangkong, and many others in variety.

Through producing crops for his own and setting them as organic as they can be on his plate for every meal, Jemuel soon discovered that his medical condition was getting better. This stoked up the passion in his heart for the organic farming of crops. What once was just a personal hobby, Jemuel’s garden eventually turned into the Ateneoville Urban Organic Garden. His endeavor and accomplishments reached the ears of former Secretary of Health who asked Jem to rehabilitate his farm in Tagaytay City. This was the start for Jemuel, and his other coaches, in helping out other communities improve their lives through the means of organic farming; encouraging them to go back to our roots of livelihood – farming; and help them see that the wealth of our people, the Filipinos, is found in farming.

As time went by, there were hurdles and challenges along the way that even sidetracked his goal. But he acknowledged that everything happened according to God’s sovereign will. As he hoped and waited on God, Project Nehemiah was coming into place. His passion for fresh, natural, and organic, along with his experience in business, grew on him a desire to use his vision to serve others—offering organic products to consumers and helping our Filipino farmers."