I looked out of the bus window, saw this view and wasn't sure what to feel. Let's leave Manila behind for a while.
We left Makati at around 9 a.m. and got there by noon. We immediately came face to face with a sampling of Costales Nature Farms' all-organic produce! There were no long and fancy introductions. We simply had to dig in, immerse ourselves with an eat-all-you-can experience and figure it out on our own. First up, was a salad with their very own sweet vinaigrette dressing.
The salad was a mix of fresh lettuce, raisins, pineapple, tomatoes, Japanese cucumber, carrots and cheese.
Then there was the organic tilapia (very meaty fish!),
a warm organic pork soup with corn and veggies (the meat was lean),
organic French beans in garlic,
more organic veggies (pumpkin, okra, ampalaya, French beans, green bell peppers, more organic pork)
and Peking duck.
For drinks, we had an oh-so-yummy fresh Satsuma orange (green ponkan) juice
and some warm organic spearmint tea (I liked drinking the Satsuma after this)!
I looked at my empty nth plate and thought, "I think I ate my regular veggie threshold for the whole week in one sitting... and I'm not complaining. I wonder what's for dinner."
Onto our bunk beds for the trip - this cottage has 2 rooms! They can accommodate up to two groups of 8 per room for this cottage (a few more rooms near the front). Here are our neighbors!
They don't have air conditioners because it gets super cold at night! FYI, the farm is at the foot of Mt. Banahaw. When you look out, you'll see this.
This is the main admin office and there are plants everywhere (fully maximized)!
He was a former highly-paid VP corporate executive who left his toxic Manila to be a farmer. Read the rest of the short article here. We also met representatives from the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of the Philippine Department of Agriculture and volunteers from the Spread Organic Agriculture in the Philippines (SOAP). The Department of Agriculture through ATI is going full blast with the promotion of Organic Agriculture in the Philippines and you can reach them here for your questions about organic agriculture. Membership for SOAP is free and you can find information on organic agriculture and they can link you to proper agencies here.
Here are a few things I picked up from his Organic Agriculture talk:
- The benefits of growing your own food include savings and health (you know which are safe to eat).
- Know your farmer and return the income locally (the price is lower when you know the farmer directly, more demand for organic products can encourage more farmers to go organic).
- Organic Agriculture at least in Costales Nature Farms involves
- growing highly valued veggies like French beans, lettuce, arugula and Japanese cucumber,
- growing culinary herbs like oregano, basil and flat leaf parsley,
- growing fruits (orchard),
- vermiculture, and
- raising livestock like free-range chickens, rabbits, pigs, Peking ducks and turkeys.
- An awarded farmer-scientist experiments in his farm and shares his findings to his community. Costales Nature Farms conducts training on OA for farmers and to those interested in organic agriculture (even to international groups).
- One of the best practices and advantages of turning organic - The Costales Nature Farms practices zero-waste farming. The cycle involves clients and the farm's excess veggies goes to feeding their livestock, livestock manure is fed to the worms and produces vermicast, which is used as fertilizer for the crops then the harvested crops goes back to clients.
- Their free-range chickens eat grass, as well as fermented organic feeds from their veggies. Their livestock also drink EM (a combination of good bacteria, think Yakult) and require no antibiotics.
- They also have flowers used as repellants to keep insects away and attractants (like these cosmos where the insects can go to instead) to restore the balance naturally.
- They practice companion planting in the farm. (They plant arugula and flat parsley together because the beetles in arugula don't like parsley and the daga in parsley don't like arugula. Amazing!)
- They also use yellow sticky traps. (Mr. Costales said insects can only see yellow. I was glad I wasn't wearing yellow that day haha.)
- They use their special net bags instead of chemicals for some of their plants and trees.
- For pest control, they have a special concoction of molasses, natural vinegar, marigold, lambanog, etc. which are effective for (botanical) pest control.
- They also make good use of kitchen waste through this special compost bin (you can buy this for your kitchen).
- The presence of worms in veggies (think holes in your lettuce) is sometimes a good sign. Worms cannot survive if there are chemicals (in the form of pesticides) used in your vegetables.
- What is one thing that is available in every household? - Waste.
- If you ever decide to be a farmer after this, they also conduct training on natural farming and urban gardening.
But first, here's the afternoon snack! My very first taste of Pansit Habhab with homegrown organic veggies and their very own Fermented Vinegar!
Whoever thought of this refreshing and wonderful juice combination?! It had crunchy mini bits of cucumber to boot! I guess I want my next one fresh from this farm hahaha. More of the Satsuma juice and this, please!
Farm Retreat Details:
Costales Nature Farms
Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay,
Website, How to Get to and Contact Costales Nature Farms
Costales Nature Farms on Facebook