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From the Pacific Rim: Biointensive in Yap
by Ecology Action Staff

Yap State is part of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), a nation stretching over a vast section of the western Pacific Ocean. In 2000 a group of teachers from Yap came to a three-day GROW BIOINTENSIVE workshop at Ecology Action. Over the years we had heard that Biointensive was being taught in the schools there.
Mr. Stan Falmngar
At the beginning of this year we sent an e-mail to Camilo Nuestro, the Vocational Coordinator at the Yap State Department of Education, inquiring about the current extent of Biointensive there. (Mr. Nuestro orders school materials each year from Bountiful Gardens, our catalog sales organization.) He told us that the Biointensive approach is integrated into the curriculum for grades 5 and 6 and that six of the eleven elementary schools on Yap have school gardens. Also, there's a plan in place to include the remaining elementary schools on Yap's main island as well as on the neighboring islands. He also told us that children are sharing the Biointensive approach with their parents but "more concrete evidence is needed to claim a more significant impact to the communities."

We suggested the possibility of bringing one or two people from Yap to Ecology Action as six-month interns who would subsequently bring updated skills back to Yap. Since then there has been an impressive response. Mr. Nuestro connected us with Stan Falmngar, who works for the College of Micronesia-FSM and has been developing a banana farm as an educational effort and also for local consumption. Mr. Falmngar states that with climate change and rising tides, bananas are more resilient than taro, the current food of choice. Bananas flourish in Yap's climate, provide high yields of food and have very few diseases.

A view from YapMr. Falmngar is not alone. He is part of the group that has recently formed on Yap to help effect a successful GROW BIOINTENSIVE program there, in partnership with Ecology Action. Camilo Nuestro recently told us that a new member of the group is Henry Falan, who is currently the Speaker of the Yap State Legislature. Speaker Falan, when he was Director of Yap State Department of Education, is the person who initiated the first contact with Ecology Action by sending trainees to the three-day workshop in Willits. According to Mr. Nuestro's e-mail, "Now that there is a need and opportunity to expand the effort … to the community/farmer level, [Speaker Falan] expressed interest in joining the group to help us realize the goal of local food sustainability."

Stan Falmngar will be our main contact on Yap. Both Mr. Falmngar and Speaker Falan have offered their land as potential demonstration sites.

The Yap Biointensive Group recently sent us more information about their state: Yap is located southwest of Guam and east of the Republic of Palau and the Philippines. The state is made up of one main island and many tiny atolls and islets. It has a modest population of 11,377, but has a unique culture and is biologically diverse. Food security is a top priority, especially with the effects of climate change being felt in low-lying islands.


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