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LEAF 2018 SPEAKER IN FOCUS: Gigi Pontejos-Morris

I made a personal segue into farming from high-end fashion industry while raising our two boys; and homeschooling them between our family farm in the Philippines and teaching fashion design in Las Vegas. 

I discovered that high-end fashion industry was no different when planning, producing and marketing high quality produce in the farms. Thus, my vision for our MoCa Family Farm became a reality. That reality also taught me the importance of risk management and led me to conceptualize Repurposing Strategy for Family Farms. After experiencing typhoons and calamities, the reality of sustainability was the biggest challenge. 

Repurposing Strategy is identifying family's Core priorities and planning business operations and activities around them. FAMILY, FARMING, FOOD, FUN , FAITH and EDUCATION; those were our identified family core priorities. This paved the way for the repurposing of our family farm.

While earning a degree in business administration in the United States and homeschooling our technology-based sons, I discovered high quality education could be achieved best through a combination of classroom instructions, experiential learning and technology. Thus RLearning Center was born and MoCa Family Farm became its campus.

As School Director of MFFRLCI, I have accomplished to transform our family farm to meet national multi-sector industry standards. It is an accredited farm tourism destination by Department of Tourism; an Extension Service Provider (ESP) for Agricultural Training Institute of Department of Agriculture; and a Private Technical Vocational Institute for TESDA (Technical Education Skills Development Authority).

I was also able to maintain international training cooperation to facilitate better opportunities for our students. We feature technical-vocational training, business, trade, and career development courses in an on-farm,
agritourism setting. MFFRLCI is set to offer a blended learning environment; face-to-face classroom instruction and experiential learning combined with a technology-based global, online learning experience in 2018.

It's on-farm operations features locally grown products for restaurants and Farmers Markets as well as value-added farm products developed in its test kitchen. Current on-going project for MFFRLCI is the establishment of Agribusiness Incubation Center for its students. This is in line with the family farm school's mantra of leading our learners from LEARNING to EARNING.

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