by Jabez Flores
Don’t let your degree define what you have to do in life. Defying all odds and going against conventional wisdom, traditional learning, and standard collegiate expectations; Timi James Manching “transplanted” his introverted computer science skills to the liberating fields of the organic farm – where the birds sing joyfully and the smell of sweet basil becomes one with the wind.
I met Timi in 2011 during the height of Cafe Antonio Sessions. At that time, we were both involved in this tight-knit community of indie musicians based in Los Banos. He was playing violin and singing back-up vocals for the band, Pathway.
A BS Computer Science student at the University of the Philippines Los Baños, 23-year-old Timi revealed to me his interest in organic agriculture while I was enrolled in the first offering of the Organic Agriculture course at the UP Open University. Prior to that conversation, I had no idea that he was interested in growing vegetables and living a sustainable and simple life.
At times we would sit in my porch, have lemongrass tea and talk about his dreams of becoming an urban gardener. In response, I would share my learnings from organic agriculture and permaculture. His eagerness to learn gave me hope for the younger generation. I could sense that he would be a good example to his peers in the campus.
“It’s about systems thinking. That’s what attracted me to farming, specifically permaculture design. Because that’s what we study in computer science, it’s all about systems,” Timi told me while we were making seedling flats out of used pallets and listening to music at Kainos Farm.
At present, Timi actively participates in farming chores with Tara Farms in Bay on Tuesdays; a couple of organic gardens in Los Baños on Wednesdays; and in Kainos Farm on Thursdays and Fridays. He also joined me last June for a Bamboo Training Workshop conducted by Cabiokid Foundation in Laur, Nueva Ecija together with our friends from Transition Community Initiative Philippines and Good Food Community. After that, our group of Nu Wave Farmers, also called The Mulching Matsing, was invited for the Luntiang Lunes segment of Oras na Pilipinas at 702 DZAS.
“Though I’m delayed [in college], at least I discovered during my long stay here what I really want to do with my life. When I graduate, I will work in the farm.”
Now that’s a dream worth pursuing!
Jabez Flores is an organic farmer and permaculture designer for Kainos Farm in Calamba, Laguna. He maintains his own garden in Los Baños called Daang Kalabaw Community Garden. He finished BA Sociology at UP Los Baños in 2007; Certificate in Organic Agriculture at UPOU in 2012; Basic Permaculture Design at Cabiokid Foundation, Nueva Ecija in 2014; and is currently taking up his masters degree in Environment and Natural Resources Management specializing in Upland Resources Management at UPOU. He also teaches Personal Entrepreneurial Development at UPOU. To know more about what Jabez, visit his blog and The Mulching Matsing Facebook Page.