Organic Farming in the Mountains!

Who says farming is only for the flat lands? We wouldn't be having the world famous Banaue Rice Terraces if there's no farming in the mountains, right? And last weekend, more than "farming" itself, we were delighted to know that some of the farmers in the mountaintops also practice the safest, convenient and planet-friendly farming style, the organic agriculture - a practice that we could also practice in our backyards.

Six hours from Manila, I found myself right in front of Benguet State University in La Trinida, Benguet. This was our home for two night as I, and some other bloggers and representatives from Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Training Institute, are invited to be part of their organic farm tour in this part of the country.

If last year we only got to experience one farm, the Costales Nature Farm, which is so wonderful base from its location, the people and the food, this time, since we'll be here in the mountainous province for 4 days, there are four organic farms in our itinerary. Sounds tiring to some, but for me, it sounded so exciting as chasing the clouds on a sunny day in the field.

Benguet State Univeristy houses the Department of Agriculture - Agricultural Training Institute in the Cordillera Administrative Region. They have decent rooms and cafeteria that offers not just the best of province, but also the freshest ones that came from their own mini-farm in the backyard.

Three of the organic farms that we have to visit are located in Benguet, so there was really no rush for us to interview the owners, see their crops and learn more about organic farming. And the first farm that welcomed us to their humble property is the Lily of the Valley.

Owned by Mr. Jefferson Laruan, the property is located at Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet.

Upon our arrival, his wife was the one who welcomed us, so while waiting for his husband to come back from the farm, she toured us around their nursery area where we get to learn the kind of upland high value crops and other regular plants they have. Among these crops are broccoli  bokchoy, cauliflower, red and green cabbage, camote, cherry tomato, cucumber, french beans, lettuce, spinach, kalunay, lemon, polonchai, beans, radish, rhubarb, sayote, sugar beets, watercress, womboc, zucchini, mint, basil, rosemarie and other herbs.

From seed sowing to harvesting, proper attention and care are provided to their crops as well as to the soil, Mrs. Laruan discussed each one of them to us. But when Mr. Laruan finally got back from the farm, he led us back to the other important aspects of their farm that gave us a wider knowledge of the place.

Everything sounded the same as to what I learn back from Costales Nature Farms, but when Mr. Laruan finally shared to us his main reason why he switched to organic farming, that was the moment everyone started listening attentively.

According to him, it was that one incident that woke him up to start living a clean and pesticide-free farming life. One day while applying the pesticide, he just blacked out and made him unconscious for more than 24 hours. He found himself lying inside his farm's nipa hut the following day still in shock as to what took over him.  He is just thankful that he is still alive now and has finally walked away from the old practices. He was glad to share to us also the way his farm is going now because aside from harvesting good crops, he is also teaching other aspiring farmers the right and healthy way of farming to make sure that what happened to him wouldn't happen again to anybody

Lily of the Valley is also a homestay, so for those who opt to stay longer to see the farm as well as to commune with the nature and savor the goodness that it share, you can visit their website to inquire -

The next farm that we got to visit in La Trinidad, Benguet carries the name Master's Garden.

At first I really thought he is Jim Paredes, but when I got a closer look, I was wrong. His name is Mr. Ambrosio “Pat” Acosta and he owns The Master's Garden.

A man who's giving it all to God, hence the name Master's Garden, Mr. Acosta was the next organic farmer we've met that made organic farming sounds so easy. From his composting area to his nursery and down to his plots, its obvious how well he knows the practice and how he takes control of everything.

It was Mr. Acosta who  that told us that the secret of having a successful organic farm is the way how a farmer treats the soil. And here in Master's Garden, he is proud to share to us that his style has been a standard to neighboring organic farms who took time to attend his seminars.

He is happy to let us know that most of his farm products are now being sold to different supermarkets in Metro Manila, which somehow gives the other local farmers a chance to penetrate in their area before finally taking a bigger leap.

Our visit here in Master's Garden ended in a super sumptuous and unique lunch which any guest can also try upon visiting this farm. I must say that there's really something about that organic produce that will make you say yummy...

Though,  unlike the Lily of Valley, Master's Garden possesses a more modern style of farming and modern surrounding, which will make you realize that you could also be an organic farmer in your own backyard.

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