Agriculture is cool

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words by Sophia Bagatsing

Sophia Bagatsing RECENTLY RESPONDED TO OUR CALL OUT FOR VOLUNTEERS TO HELP CREATE CONTENT FOR OUR COMMS! SHE IS super passionate about climate change and agriculture coming from a long line of farmers in the Philippines. LET’S START WITH HER STORY… WHO IS Sophia?

Something I always struggled with as a kid was answering the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”. I avoided answering that big life question for as long as I could, and like a lot of young people that are figuring out what the heck “adulting” means, it took me a bit of soul searching before I found my path.

If a 7-year-old Sophia were to have her way, I would be a princess, but Prince Harry has since married Megan Markle (lol).

Instead, a 15-year-old Sophia was making other plans. One summer, I volunteered at a mangrove tree planting activity. This was the first time when I merged my love for nature and community service. Volunteering continued to play a huge role during high school and university life, and I wondered if this was something I’d still get to do when I became an adult.

Little did I know that a few years later, I would be planting more than just trees. Thanks to some time I spent with my grandmother exploring her hometown, I discovered something about my heritage that inspired me.

I am from a long line of farmers, four generations!

My paternal and maternal grandparents hail from farming communities in the Philippines. Despite being a city girl, it all made sense to me as I am continually pulled towards agriculture.

Sophia riding a Water Buffalo in front of rice fields on a trip to her grandmother’s hometown, Iloilo, Philippines.

Today I’m 25 and I’m currently studying a Masters of Agricultural Science at the University of Melbourne to equip myself with the tools and knowledge I need to become a steward of the land. Through my studies, I’ve come to understand the value of conservation and regenerative practices in agriculture. The more I look into it, the more I find myself in awe of what mother nature can do. Aside from providing us with food and fibre, agriculture can recycle organic waste, sequester carbon and regenerate our soils all at the same time.

Agriculture is cool!

Now if you ask me that big question again, I finally have an answer and it’s with great pride and conviction that I say I want to be a farmer for climate action. I’ve spent my time working with people in waterway conservation, community gardens, transition groups for sustainable living, environmental research and have marched with my generation for climate action.

Volunteering has allowed me to meet so many amazing people who have inspired me. I’m constantly blown away by the work that people are doing. It’s given me faith that there are so many people out there doing good work and knowing this inspires me to keep going even now that we are mostly indoors and online.

Probably one of the most important things I’ve learned during this second-lockdown (I am in Melbourne CBD) is that we are the last generation that can do something to prevent catastrophic global warming, and we’ve only got the next few years to turn it around. It’s a tall order, but it’s precisely this challenge of securing a better future that motivates me to act.

Intrepid Landcare is a space to come together with other young people to do stuff that matters, for the climate, land, waterways, biodiversity and the oceans!

These days, I manage to stay involved with my keyboard, so you’ll find me facilitating climate conversations, researching about co-op farming, sustainable policymaking and behaviour change or watching Tiny House videos on YouTube! If I’m not nerding-out about plants, planetary boundaries and the circular economy, you’ll find me tending to my i­­ndoor plants.

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