Amid all the technologies and exciting developments happening around us, we come to a point when we just want to run away from all of them and go back to the most basic of things.
And I’m not talking about our material possessions. Neither am I going the emotional route of citing our special loved ones. I am pertaining to going back to basics with organic agriculture.
I wrote a brief experience about going organic some time ago when I went to Costales organic farm in Laguna. Now, we’re taking the issue a notch higher by exploring them farther up north to the Mountain Province and Sagada upon the invitation of the Department of Agriculture. And this time, we’re going to take a peek into the lives of three organic farm owners and what inspired them into organic farming.
It began with a night trip with my wife to Baguio via Victory Liner terminal in Cubao. Our destination was the compound of Benguet State University where we met with other ‘green‘ bloggers and the pioneers of this activity from the office of Agricultural Training Institute – Cordillera Administrative Region.
Aspect 1: Health
The organic farm tours begun the next day starting with the Lily of the Valley Organic Farm. It was owned by a husband-and-wife tandem of Mr. & Mrs. Jeffersson Laruan.
His story of switching from the traditional chemical into organic farming is an emotional farm is a bit emotional, to say the least.
He is a third-generation farmer, and during the 70s and 80s which is the height of use of chemical fertilizers, Mang Laruan found himself knocked-unconscious in the field for about 1 whole day after an accident where the wind blew his way exposing parts of himself in direct contact with the chemical.
It was a turning point which was a major factor in his decision to switch to organic farming in the late 90s. From thereon forward, he has never looked back. His main crops are the leafy ones composed of lettuce variants, cauliflower, and broccoli.
Incorporated in his methods of organic agriculture is the mukosako system to hasten the decomposition of his compost which is the basic and most important phase in organic farming.
Today, Mang Laruan continuous to live healthy while his wife is a proud owner a home-stay lodge for visitors and tourists right beside their organic farm.
Aspect 2: Passion
Just a brief encounter with Mr. Pat Acosta of The Master’s Garden and you would certainly notice his passion towards what he does best – organic farming.
He has no emotional story to tell but he has a conviction, as sure as the white hairs on his head, to share.
Owning a micro-eco farm, Pat started his lecture for us with his compost chamber using IMO and related compost hasteners. This was followed by the seed-setting chamber, and the transplanting and tray nursery where we saw the seedlings upto how they are transferred into pots from the trays.
A tour in his vegetation revealed his herb garden and love for green vegetables including lettice, cheery tomatoes, arugula, and the one he is most passionate about – the superfood sugarbeets!
He offers a more comprehensive course about these matters from as short as a 2-day course upto 14 days.
To cap the farm tour, we had our lunch at The Master’s Garden kitchen where we had no other than their own produce. Watch out for the foodie blog about this pleasant lunch at NomNomClub.com very soon.
Mr. Acosta was recognized as a ‘Distinguished Organic Farmer’ in 2009-10 by no less than the Malacanang Palace.
Aspect 3: Business
Remember the course being offered by Mr. Pat Acosta I mentioned above? Well, Mr. Felix Tan of the Garden of Life, was one of his students.
Mr. Tan is our third stop and the final one for the day in the organic farm tour. What is amazing about him is that he has no background in farming although he is a medical practitioner before he started organic agriculture.
He personally realized this upon seeing critical patients such as those with cancer and related critical illnesses. Although not specifically mentioned or verified, it is my personal opinion that Mr. Felix Tan saw the potential and business demand for organic products in the near future.
Hence he made himself knowledgeable in the craft and eventually pursued organic farming as a business.
Mr. Tan should serve as an inspiration to those who want to start organic farming but has zero knowledge about the matter. He proved that it is possible to venture into this commerce even if you were not a farmer or have no previous background.
He also shared that profit is not easily realized. A starter may only see his hard work bearing fruits in about after one year, after a number of tries, with 6 months at the very least, if you’re lucky. Once you hit it right, and with proper maintenance, it is easier to maintain moving forward. Zealousness and diligence is the key.
Organic Coffee Farm in Sagada
A bonus in the tour is a visit to an organic coffee farm in Sagada. The people of Sagada know their coffee, and its not instant, it’s organic.
We visited a coffee farm and had an intimate talk with a coffee farmer.
He is no simple coffee farmer because he harvests Arabica coffee, the most premium coffee variety in the world.
I personally wasn’t to get much of what other things he shared but he revealed to us his simple life and the way of organic coffee farming.
At the end of the tour, we got to taste some of his other produce such as the passion fruit and Sagada pears.
Organic Farm Listing
Lily of the Valley Organic Farms
MC 075 Puguis, La Trinidad,
Benguet, Mt. Ptovince
Mr. Jeffersson Laruan
The Master’s Garden
ME-133 Lamtang-Pico Road, Barangay Puguis, La Trinidad,
Benguet, Mt. Ptovince
Mr. Ambrocio “Pat” Acosta
Garden of Life
Mr. Felix Tan
Benguet, Mt. Ptovince
Sagada Coffee Farm
Agricultural Training Institute-Cordillera Administrative Region
Department of Agriculture
BSU, La Trinidad, Benguet
Organic Agriculture Today
Organic agriculture and organic produce is nothing magical. Our ancestors a few decades ago were practicing such in the first place as our first ancestors did in the beginning of time.
It’s just that somewhere along the way, man’s greed for ‘more‘, pushed him to find ways, albeit harmful, to produce ‘more‘ as well.
For our part as consumers, with the same ‘passion‘ the organic agriculture farmers mentioned above ‘faced‘, let us help and support them make organic farming a sensible ‘business‘ profit-wise by going organic as well. Yes, organic produce is about three times more expensive at the moment, but economics dictate that more demand can bring the prices down to the reach of the masses. Finally, we do owe it upon ourselves and our loved ones to keep our bodies ‘healthy‘.
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