Negros Occidental: An Experience in the Organic Agriculture Capital of the Philippines (part 2)

The second day of our organic farm tour here in the lovely province of Negros Occidental was as exciting as the first day. With another set of delectable healthy meals for breakfast prepared to us by May’s Garden, by 8 in the morning, the group are all gathered up ready to head north and to see what Victorias City and Silay City have to offer to the healthy buffs of the nation.

The road to the northern part of the province is smooth, so we all had a nice nap while on the road. But after an hour and a half of traversing the northern part of Negros Occidental, the moment we opened our eyes, our sight were blocked by the lush herb garden of Penalosa Farms.

To be honest, my first impression to Penalosa Farms is it’s a dream vacation house for me. With almost every food that you need to stay healthy all around you, who wouldn't want to stay here longer?

Mr. Ramon Penalosa, owner and scientist farmer of Penalosa Farms, welcomed the group upon entering their grand villa. We were all offered refreshment, which calls Five Leaf Tea - a concoction of Taheebo, Ashitava, Gotocola, Peppermint and Calamansi leaves. And I must say, it was refreshingly good! Something that I would want to have back home and help me cleanse every single day!

Five Leaf Tea

After an introduction, Mr. Penalosa toured us around their grand villa where we were amaze by how it can accommodate almost 50 people. In the attic, a praying room is also made available as well as a veranda, which gives guests a 360-degree view of the Penalosa Farms. Oh, this is really a dream house for me.

Right after some more chit-chatting, the group was then led to their main conference area where we are scheduled to learn more about Penalosa Farms and their Integrated Farming System. If May’s Garden has the RU Foundry & Machines has these advance mechanical machines, Penalosa Farms offers the Micro Model Integrated Micro Business Farm that he expounded during our stay here in their farm.

At first, it was hard for me to focus on Mr. Penalosa speaking things about his farm, because with all of those lush things surrounding us, my eyes couldn't honestly help but to wonder. But the moment he mentioned the sentences “Agriculture is the poorest sector in the Philippines” and “Your income is dependent on your vision”, my attention came all back at him and my ears listened to the rest of the ideas and principles he conveyed to us.

It was Mr. Penalosa who shared to us about P.I.N.A.S. or the Philippines Integrated National Agricultural System; the 4 Ls of Penalosa Farm, which stand for Live, Learn, Love and Laugh; and the first and so far the only organic farm that opened its property to us and let us do an on-ground activity that really inspired and taught us so many things. Imagine, from starting a small organic farm to knowing how to earn from each of its component, really, it was that part that made us all realize how wonderful organic farming can be. And with that, just before we end the happy day here in Penalosa Farms, we were treated to another amazing organic dishes that filled – super filled our tummies.

With so much delight and honor to be in this place for this amazing organic agriculture learning, we bid our goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Penalosa with high hopes of having another chance of visiting their place and probably staying longer to learn more.

After some more sweet farewells, the group then hopped on back to our van as we head on to our next destination.

Our next destination isn't totally a new territory to discover, so as we reached the peaceful Silay City, we were welcomed by a banner carrying the name Fresh Start Farm.

Owned by the son of Mr. Ramon and May Uy of May’s Garden and RU Foundry and Machines, Fresh Start Farm is under the name of husband and wife Ramon Uy, Jr. and Francine Uy.

Performing the same practices as its mother farm, Fresh Start Farm takes pride of being one of the top producers of vermicast in the province that's been helping organic farmers in the province to flourish in their business.

On our visit here, the farm caretaker assisted us and answered all our inquiries pertaining to their organic way of producing earthworms that play a vital role in the organic farming industry.

I'm chicken when it comes to these huge number of earthworms, so the moment the caretaker grabbed the compost that is full of earthworms, sorry, but I cannot stand the sight of them. I'm somehow thankful that there are these kind of people who are really dedicated in making organic agriculture a success.

And as scheduled, after some 30 minutes of checking the place out, we were then asked to hop on our service van again to visit the place where Fresh Start Farm products go after they went through a thorough cleansing and packing - Fresh Start Organic & Natural Store in Robinson's Place Bacolod.

Imagine a store filled with earth's goodness prepared in their most organic and natural way, and yet still managed to give that mouthwatering flavor that no one cannot resist?! Wow!

So, from coffee, brown rice, fresh vegetables, skin care products, jams, muscovado, chips, noodles, beer and even our favorite piaya, they've got it all here. Fresh Start Organic & Natural Store is indeed a one-stop shop local and tourist should visit to enjoy and savor the best of the best when it comes to organic goodness.

I couldn't ask for more on our second day here in Negros Occidental. From one astonishing and outstanding organic farm to another one, I'm convince why this province is now called the Organic Agriculture Capital of the Philippines. And I just can't wait to share our third day here in Negros, as we head towards the south visiting another famous organic agri-tourism farm in the highlands of Don Salvador Benedicto City and Bago City. So, friends, stay tune!

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