Together-Ensemble believes in building a formidable agricultural base as necessary to national development, because one could not properly conceive of progress that is urban-centered, creating a stark socio-economic imbalance and its attendant social ills. More than a political or economic platitude, it is a vision distilled in the life project and in these words of Yves Caroff:
“The establishment of some kind of low-level agricultural center such as the [Oblate] Galilee Farm in isolated rural areas can greatly contribute to generate new hope and trigger efforts for development in communities of poor farmers who constitute one of the poorest and most neglected social groups in the country; and thereby contribute also to solve some of the problems of peace and order.”
The Vision of the farm is to be a model farm others can replicate, and also a center of education, where knowledge and farming techniques can be shared.
Who was Fr Yves Caroff and what is Galilee Farm?
After facing numerous setbacks, including being kidnapped by bandits in 1991, Caroff succeeded in setting up the Oblate Galilee Farm (OGF) which is a flourishing learning hub where small-scale farmers, mainly displaced peasants and indigents, can be trained for the trade. At OGF, students are equipped with personal skills and competencies, sufficient technical know-how and good work ethics to help them gradually take off.
Today, OGF enjoys enormous recognition from the locals, educational institutions, government agencies and civil society organizations that look to it for support and inspiration. Students, foreign diplomats, government officials, agricultural experts, journalists, artists, and mere enthusiasts numbered among its list of visitors in the last decade. With the launching, in 2008, of the Fr Yves Caroff Scholarship, signed for an initial period of 10 years.
Yves Caroff (1925-2008) was a Christian missionary to the Philippines who had spent his life living among and working with the poor farmers in Mindanao. Seeing that the rural folks are habitually ignored, he took it to himself to help them rise from poverty and hands-on agricultural education became the means he has employed.
From jungle to farm, from farm to market : the story of Galilée Farm:
French Oblate Father Caroff had devoted more that 52 years of his life serving the most underprivileged rural population of the world. Father Caroff was kidnapped in 1991 by a bandit group operating in Mindanao. But this did not prevent him from pursuing his mission with admirable determination. In 1993, he started the conversion of 9 hectares of
devastated lands in the province of North Cotabato into a model farm.
In this remote land, Father Caroff had undertaken a number of key programs: soil protection and fertilization through the implementation of leguminous-hedges, reforestation and mechanized irrigation. With his passion for agriculture, Father Caroff trained the farmers of Bugwak with his technical know-how and wisdom.
In five years, the pilot project carried out collectively in Bugwak gave rise to the Galilée Farm, now a place of work and dignity for the inhabitants in the area. Fruits, vegetables, livestock and milk have now exceeded the basic needs of the families of Bugwak. With this unprecedented development, a need to devise a plan for the commercial distribution of the farms various products has become important. An expansion program is looking at a rural-based appropriate technology to process the fresh produce of fruits, honey, and pork meat so that they can be brought to the markets of major cities in the region.
Hubert d’Aboville met with Father Yves Caroff in 1994 in Manila, and went to visit him in Galilée Farm for the first time in 1998. Up to this day, after nearly 20 years, Together- Ensemble has been continuing alongside of Galilée Farm. All those years, “Friends of Father Caroff” from Brittany (France) have been their most active partners.
In 1999, Together-Ensemble Foundation decided to adopt Galilée Farm as its flagship project. The Foundation mobilized a vigorous campaign to solicit and collect donations in various forms (cash, equipment, technical assistance) from generous individuals, companies and institutions. This enabled the farm to obtain some needed help, both financial and technical to make the big leap to commercialization. But to make Father Caroff’s dream a reality, much remains to be done.
Donations to the Galilée Farm project will go a long way in helping not only the Bugwak farmers but also the indigenous inhabitants of the surrounding communities to find a viable and sustainable means of livelihood in this impoverished region.
Together-Ensemble and the Farm
«...After emergencies due to natural calamities that regularly hit the Philippines, the top priority of daily life is to simply be able to eat! To do this, man must work the land in order to produce food. Work provides man with dignity and resources. Then comes the need for education and health care. Together- Ensemble always takes into consideration these fundamentals...» Hubert d’Aboville
Since 1999 T-E adopted Galilee Farm as its flagship project in North Cotabato in collaboration with Oblate Father Yves Caroff to provide both financial and technical assistance to the farm. Almost twenty years ago, T-E donated and installed a solar power system that enabled the farm to produce processed food and dairy products. T-E also assisted Galilee Farm with quarterly financial subsidies from cash donations collected by T-E from French family & friends of Father Caroff in Brittany, France.
Promotion of Galilee Farm in France, by Daniel Le Berre, a French journalist of Ouest France; and an upgrade in Solar their energy system. Galilee Farm was equipped with four solar modules to power lights in the main backhouse; Donation of 15000 Euros, from Alliances Foundation (via Fondation de France) for agricultural development in Galilee Farm.
Promotion of Galilee Farm in the Philippines. French Ambassador Renée Veyret and Governor Manny Piñol visited the Farm. The embassy donated a much needed shredder; Mounting of an exhibit to assist in promoting Galilee Farm during the 1st French-Philippines Bazaar. The French Embassy also donated a plane ticket to Father Yves Caroff to return to France for his much needed and overdue summer vacation.
Construction of a piggery house, a bedroom, a kitchen and an office (materials and labor) as well as other infrastructure projects in Galilee farm; Financial assistance to the farm, through donations received from Ms. Regina Albert (PhP 300,000) and Mr. and Mrs. Bettembourg (very regular donors to T-E). Visit and tour at the Galilee Farm of Father Yves Caroff with the new French Ambassador Gérard Chesnel, his wife Mrs. Ning Chesnel, the French Counselor for Cooperation and Cultural Affairs Mr. Francois Blamont, Mrs. Ara d’Aboville and T-E Foundation President Hubert d’Aboville. Also present were the North Cotabato Governor Manny Piñol as well as Mayors and other municipal officials; Regular and substantial fund transfers were collected from the Association of the Friends of Father Caroff based in Brittany, France.
2008 - The Father Yves Carroff Scholarship —
A 10-year French-Filipino student exchange program between Mindanao and Brittany (France). T-E in memory of Father Yves Caroff has created the « Yves Caroff Scholarship Program » following his death which facilitated an annual exchange of training between Galilee Farm and Brittany, France, wherein a farm staff from Galilee Farm was sent to France for 6 to 10 weeks of training in organic farming and marketing of farm produce. The next year, a French farming student was sent to Galilee Farm, thus alternating the yearly exchange that lasted for 10 years up to 2018.