Wake up early on a weekend and head to the Farmer’s Market in Dededo. The Paloma Family, who collectively call themselves Paloma Farms, occupy three stalls in a row, selling a wide range of local products that can easily be a one stop shop for local meals. From kangkong and breadfruit, to smoked pike mackerel fish and plant seedlings, the diversity of local produce from the Paloma Farms shows all of what Guam has to offer.
The Paloma Family is a multigenerational farming family who “live off the land,” sustaining themselves with the food they grow and fish. The patriarch of the family Louis Paloma Jr. raised all of his 13 children and numerous grandchildren to appreciate the lifestyle of growing their own food.
Originally from Pangasinan, Philippines, Louis Jr. learned his craft working in the Mountain Province in the Philippines. Seeking a better life, however, he departed the Philippines to join his father, Louis Sr., in Guam where he worked in construction. Fulfilling his passion for farming, Louis Jr. acquired a half-acre farm in Dededo in 1994. He would wake up early in the morning to start tending to his farm, go to work at his construction jobsites, then return home in the afternoons where yet again he tended to his farm. Slowly through the years, he upgraded its facilities and eventually outgrew it. Then he expanded his farming to another piece of land in Yigo.
Mr. Paloma made sure his children had a hands-on learning of farming and agriculture. As Alma and Melinda told us, growing up in the farm was “hard work.” They helped prepare the land by pulling weeds, tilling the soil, collecting rocks to create smoother soil, caring for the plants, and harvesting the crops. Over the years, Paloma farms has grown pechay, eggplants, longbeans, hot peppers, calamansi, jicamas, kangkong, tamarind, upo squash, pumpkin tips, papayas, and kamuti leaves.
His children took his lessons to heart by continuing the passion of farming. Melinda uses both traditional and modern methods of farming; she uses the roof of her house to capture the sun’s rays and increase the footprint of her farm. Elsa grows and cultivates a variety of vegetable and fruit seedlings, including thai basil, holy basil, upo, pumpkin, lemon cina, calamansi, cucumber and more.
The diversity of produce that Paloma Farms grows reflects the food that they themselves will eat, with lots of ingredients to make Filipino food in their homes. Every weekend, they take what they harvest and enjoy the abundance of food in little barbecues. They also share what they grow with other families, bartering for produce they don’t have with the stuff that they do. The farm is at the center of the family.
We asked what the most important lesson their father has taught them, Melinda and Alma told us it was humility of hard work. “You have to give to the land what you take