The pandemic has introduced unprecedented level of uncertainties over health, food, jobs and more. While many people have experienced wide-ranging anxieties because of the precarious times brought about by the pandemic, Filipina-Bosnian-Serb Ivy Moniza Sibincic felt secured for her family, all because of family farming.
“We don’t know what the future will bring and we believe that growing and raising your food is always a good idea,” said the 27-year-old Sibincic, a native of Bohol who now lives in the rural municipality of Prnjavor in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The Sibincic family farm life bliss in Bosnia and Herzegovina traces its beginnings to a cruise ship where Ivy and husband Slaven, an agriculturist, worked together. Ivy, who left a job in the corporate world, met her “destiny” in the ship. Although Ivy did expect a life in the village at the onset of the relationship, it was a pleasant surprise when she found out and she realized it was something she also wanted.
At 24, Ivy started a family right after a civil wedding in the Philippines, followed by a church wedding in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Blessed with two girls, Sofija and Natalija, the Pinay is living her dream.
“He just said to me that they live in the village. I never thought that the family had already the tradition of living a sustainable way of life. I’m totally amazed because my in-laws already started this journey and passed it on to us,” said Ivy.
Inspired by the family tradition and surrounded by hard-working parents in-law, the aim of the couple’s household and farm is to be 100% eco-friendly. The family produces everything they need, except for toiletries, like soap and detergent. But Ivy is already set to start producing them.
“We produce, we grow everything at home, including our own meat supply, poultry and dairy. Our own water consumption is from our water spring source. We also have our deep well for our drinking water. We have an all-year supply, even for winter and we are ready for preservation of food,” explained Ivy.
Farm life is not easy but the Sibincics enjoy the feeling of security during the pandemic, where almost everything is within their reach.
“In times like this (pandemic), there is no pressure. We don’t have fear. We know everything is with us. Right now, we also have a family seed bank and we have more 350 different heirloom seeds,” Ivy shared.
Their typical farm life starts at 4:30 in the morning.
“At 5 a.m., we start doing our thing while the kids are still asleep. I always bring my kids with me to the garden. Our eldest is aware of our daily activities. The secret is time management and you work fast. In an hour, I can finish many things,” said Ivy.
LIVING OFF THE GRID
The Sibincic family is a close-knit, landed, farming family. Slaven, Ivy’s husband, is the only son and the youngest so he is expected to continue the family tradition of farming. But the couple stepped up to higher heights and set new goals, and their passion became an advocacy. They want everything to be sustainable. The couple also wants to promote more kitchen gardens so they are giving away seeds, free of shipping costs and with planting guides.
To reach more people, they have documented their family activities and made them available on social media.
“We want to make an impact to the world in our own little ways and we believe that family can be an example. And through our family, we want to show others that whenever there might be some problems, (like COVID), you won’t have any fear because you have everything in your doorstep,” Ivy explained.
They have opened their land to those who want to start farming,
“We also let other people use our land for free. We don’t have enough funds to maintain everything, so instead na maging forest siya,” she said.
She added: “People think we are rich because we have lands. We are not rich in money. We are an average family pero ang importante po sa amin is yung happiness ng family, abundance of food. Money is just paper.”
On top of their advocacy, Ivy is also promoting Philippine vegetables in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She started growing indigenous vegetables from the Philippines three years ago.
“Our neighbors and family and friends have enjoyed eating our (Philippines) vegetables. I grow lahat ng nasa Bahay Kubo – gabi and ube this year and sweet potato. I have ampalaya, talong, sitaw, pechay, patola and more,” she said.
Sustainable green living has been the family mantra for generations. But the pandemic has affirmed their values and placed them in a better place to help others who want to follow in their footsteps.
From eco-conscious, organic gardening, farming, livestock raising, beekeeping, growing heirloom vegetables, fruit tress, seed conservation to promoting vegetables from the Philippines and raising young children, Ivy and Slaven have gone a long way from their life in the ship sans land to sustainably farming a big land area.
“If you have a sustainable life, it will make your life happier or more meaningful and healthier. That’s why we like to encourage people to follow our footsteps. This is the reality that we should face now: we should go back to basics,” said Ivy.
Last year, the family was awarded the Best Organized Country Home in the municipality of Prnjavior, the first-ever awardee in the category. The Sibincics are determined to defend the title next week.