Farmspiration Farms: I used to believe that farming is only for those with hectares of land, millions worth of investment capital, and profuse knowledge in agriculture. Moreover, in a world where you can work and earn money in an air-conditioned setting, fewer and fewer people are choosing agriculture – albeit, a road less traveled. However, there is more to agriculture than tilling the soil and tending crops. There’s this song ‘ang magtanim ay di biro, maghapon nakayuko’. Yet there is more to agriculture. Here are five unique farmspirational tales.
Through the effort of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), an orchestrator of the National Extension System ensuring harmonized management of agricultural and fishery extension delivery systems, media practitioners all over Panay were invited to join an immersive walkthrough farm situated in different municipalities within Iloilo Province from February 19 to 21. ATI specifically selected five diversely unique farms, namely: Namocon Farmers Association Farm in Tigbauan, Tagbac Elementary School in Oton, Ephratha Farm in Badiangan, Agribased Micro Initiatives (AMI) Farm in Badiangan, and the Connie Carillo Diversified Farm in Bingawan.
Namocon Farmers Association Farm in Tigbauan, Iloilo. A four-hectare property utilizing an integrated farming system, Namocon Farmers Association is situationed in Brgy. Namocon is in Tigbauan and is headed by farm president, Mr. Boy Zayco. The integrated diversified farm produces rice and high-value organic vegetables such as lettuce, eggplant, and ampalaya. The farm has been helping residents attain a better life through farming. One remarkable testament to this is Mrs. Lorenza ‘Moray’ Garcia.
Lorenza ‘Moray’ Garcia, a 49-year-old resident of Namocon had no capital of her own. She started collecting cow manure and offered it as fertilizer for landscaped gardens and facades. Through Moray’s hard work and perseverance, her income exceeded the minimum wage employee. Her business of selling cow excrement allowed her the necessary funds to create a garden and grow vegetables. As of date, Moray has a bounty of vegetables. She was also able to purchase a motorcycle of her own.
Farmers preparing Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ) concoction as organic fertilizer
Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ)
Mr. Boy Zayco, President of Namocon Farmers Association Farm in Tigbauan, Iloilo
Hard work and perseverance – Lorenza ‘Moray’ Garcia earns from collecting cow manure
Moray’s tale is indeed a testament to how agriculture can change lives. However, to Mrs. Emma Caballero, principal of Tagbac Elementary School, agriculture should be inspired and cultivated in the minds of the youth. ‘Start them young’, as per the esteemed educator.
Tagbac Elementary School in Oton, Iloilo. “Start them young”. The realization started when Mrs. Emma Caballero was assigned to Tagbac Elementary School in Brgy Tagbac Sur, Oton where the majority of the students are children of farmers – and even in 6th grade, was still not able to read. Mrs. Emma Caballero started remedial reading classes to no avail. Moreover, the investigation revealed that children, due to poverty, could not learn well with an empty stomach. Thus, a feeding program was initiated. To sustain the program, a garden was gradually built at the school’s backyard. Principal Emma also encouraged student and parent involvement in improving the school’s garden. Over time, the school has attracted a following.
As of date, the Tagbac Elementary School is one of the notable schools in the province and is often visited by patrons from all over the country – including Iloilo Governor, Arthur Defensor. The school now stands at a total area of 5,973 square meters. It offers a diverse variety of fruits and vegetables, including medicinal herbs. Garden tours are given by students themselves – and even at 5th or 6th grade, students are able to give an exceptional and informative tour, giving as much input as possible about each plant and the health benefits it provides. The school’s success allowed zero miscellaneous fees for students. Moreover, vermicast, herbs, and potted plants to being sold at the school to augment school needs.
To support and sustain the school’s feeding program, a garden was built at the school’s backyard
Soy Burger and Soy Milk, a specialty of Tagbac Elementary School in Brgy Tagbac Sur, Oton
Juice made from beet, also a Tagbac Elementary School specialty
Mrs. Emma Caballero, principal of Tagbac Elementary School
From a community farm and school-initiated farm, ATI introduced Ephrathah Farms, a whopping 14-hectare property in Brgy. Sariri, Badiangan and owned by Ed Roderick Canuto. Ephrathah offers a walk through agriculture, entrepreneurship, and tourism fused into one.
Ephrathah Farms in Brgy. Sariri, Badiangan, Iloilo. Ephrathah offers a walk through agriculture, entrepreneurship, and tourism fused into one. Ephrathah started as a retirement farm and evolved into an agri-tourism haven, dream wedding venue, and ultimate go-to destination. Ephrathah is also a fruit and vegetable consolidator for big supermarkets in Iloilo. The main commodities of the farm/resort include the red lady papaya, dragon fruit, freshwater fish, chicken, and quail eggs.
“There is money in farming”, as per Mr. Ed Canuto. Ephrathah, today, is comprised of a 7-hectare resort and 7-hectare farm. Ephrathah, as a resort, offers the following amenities: 5 deluxe rooms, 3 regular rooms, 4 dorm-type rooms that can accommodate up to 14 people, 1 mango shaped swimming pool and 1 half Olympic size pool, a training room that can accommodate up to 40 people, a pavilion function room that can accommodate up to 120 people, a multipurpose hall that can cater up to 300 people, and a majestic glass chapel that is perfect for weddings. Aside from the structures, Ephrathah also offers exciting activity options such as zipline, wall climbing, rappelling, camping, and even fishing. As a farm, Ephrathah uses the method ‘Hydroponics’ in growing commodities, specifically lettuce. Hydroponics is a method of cultivating plants in a nutrient liquid with or without gravel or a supporting medium. It is often referred to as a ‘soil-less method in hydroculture. The farm, as of date, is a consolidator of fruits and vegetables for big supermarkets in Iloilo.
Mr. Ed Canuto of Ephrathah Farms
Ephrathah evolved into an agri-tourism haven, dream wedding venue, and ultimate go-to destination
Ephrathah Farms Glass Chapel
Ephrathah Farms uses the method ‘Hydroponics’ a method of cultivating plants in a nutrient liquid with or without gravel or supporting medium. It is often referred to as a ‘soil-less’ method in hydroculture.
The visit to Ephrathah exemplified the power of agriculture in transforming a common farm into an agri-tourism giant. However, it also provoked the question of how much investment is needed to jumpstart a farm. In order to be as grandiose as Ephrathah, a large investment is needed. However, the next farm proved that it is still possible despite having less than a hectare of land.
Agribased Micro Initiatives (AMI) Farm in Badiangan, Iloilo. Agribased Micro Initiatives (AMI) Farm, is a 1 hectare property owned by Mr. Rey Pedroso. It is located in Badiangan, Iloilo and offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, medicinal herbs, and livestock. The farm is equipped with a plant nursery as well as piggery – all within a 1 hectare property. The farm was not only able to sustain the family’s needs but provided a healthy haven and green paradise for the family.
Agribased Micro Initiatives (AMI) Farm has a plant nursery as well as piggery – all within a 1 hectare property.
Mr. Rey Pedroso, owner of AMI Farms
Connie Carillo Diversified Farm in Bingawan Iloilo. With technology transfer as main commodity, the Connie Carillo Diversified Farm in Bingawan Iloilo believes in empowerment. Owned by Mrs. Connie Carillo, the farm covers 4,500 square feet of land and practices Sloping Agricultural Land Technology (SALT) as well as Integrated Diversified Organic Farming System. The farm produces a wide variety of crops: mushrooms, eggplants, tomatoes, ampalaya, and squash to name a few. The farm also raises organic hog, sheep, goat, chicken, turkey, and ducks – as well as tilapia, hito (hatchery and fattening), koi, and native Cairoshell. The diversified farm practice the Natural Farming System (NFS) and produce organic feeds, fertilizer, and concoctions. To date, the Connie Carillo Diversified Farm is the Community Outreach Center of Kryz Vocational and Technical School (KVTS) Inc. The school, meanwhile, offers a number of training courses mainly in agriculture and livelihood training and it also serves as a TESDA Accredited Training Center and TESDA Accredited Assessment Center.
Connie Carillo Diversified Farm in Bingawan Iloilo
Pie infused with turmeric
Blue ternate hopia, a Connie Carillo Farm specialty
Mrs. Connie Carillo of the Connie Carillo Diversified Farm in Bingawan
The visit to the five farms was an eye-opening opportunity to see the current state of farmers from small-scale to large-scale farms. There is money in farming. There is promise in farming. Many lives have been transformed by agriculture. The farm tour showed that, despite the varying difference in terms of method, commodity, and land area, only one thing is in common among the five farms, it is a genuine passion for agriculture.