Our last farm stop in La Trinidad, Benguet is owned by Mr. Felix Tan - once a Manileño with a Commerce background (he moved to Benguet) and still a practitioner of alternative medicine. This is one of the farms that adopted the methods of Mr. Pat Acosta's The Master's Garden. Mr. Tan trained with him and converted his idle land to a very prosperous organic farm called Garden of Life. He was able to replicate the process and of course, started to plant herbs and medicinal plants according to his own profession and interest :) I told you each farm we visited has its own charm! ;)
Here in Benguet, temperate veggies grow best. Mr. Acosta says that you can grow rice anywhere so he chose these highly valued temperate crops to plant instead. I think growing organic herbs (for culinary), medicinal & health-related plants such as wheatgrass and stevia (sugar substitute for diabetics) are also not a bad idea. :)
We arrived a few minutes later by car (10 minutes) from The Master's Garden and had to walk "in" a rocky path and "down" to the Garden of Life.
Like the 2 previous farms we visited, this farm has also been granted an ATI-CAR learning site status for being able to successfully demonstrate how organic farming can be beneficial for all parties. Other farmers, kids and interested to-be farmers can learn a lot from the pioneers.
You get a bonus for this farm as you can see the South China Sea :)
We saw a familiar row of organized planting and roofed open greenhouse.
Welcome to the Garden of Life - a very fitting name for the kind of plants that grow here :)
One thing I didn't see in the 2 farms was wheatgrass! But it's not your ordinary wheatgrass in Manila... the ones here can grow up to a month long (in the jointing stage). According to Mr. Tan, this is the optimal growth period that's best for juicing wheatgrass (need to juice it because grass has tough cellular fiber and humans cannot digest it like animals). Unlike the ones we have in Manila, the roots have space to grow here and are packed with nutrients because it's all organic.
The ones we see in trays only grow a fraction as compared to the wheatgrass here (P700/kg). Cancer patients can consume up to 8 oz. of wheatgrass whereas we can only take around 1 to 2 oz. or we'll feel sick like nausea, pain, toxins come out, detox..
Some interns come all the way from the Visayas to learn about organic farming here.
Mr. Tan said he has a lot of cancer victims and other people buying all sorts of his organic produce for their health. He's an alternative medicine practitioner first then realized that there is a demand and no immediate source for the medicinal plants so he decided to cultivate his own. He's an advocate of the raw food diet - that if cooked to 40 degrees then it is already considered "dead food" (no more enzymes, vitamins and nutrients).
These are French beans. These ones don't have much thread/fibrous (sinulid) so you can eat it raw. It's high in protein, a replacement of meat and he said these fresh pods don't have uric acid =)
Presenting Dora from Pangasinan..
It has a pungent smell and is for mothers who just gave birth. I think it's good for the liver, hepa and lupus. You drink it as tea and it's a blood cleanser.
This is a rosemary bush. Imagine earning P1k per kilo produced and it just keeps on giving more with the very healthy soil..
I think this is local Ashitaba, a.k.a. the Tomorrow Leaf. It's for lung cancer, hypertension, diabetes, kidney problems and blood circulation.
Mr. Tan challenged us to taste the Serpentina (and the King of Bitters).. I wasn't really thinking haha. It looked so harmless.. You put just one leaf in boiling water for diabetes and tonsilitis.
OMG. It taste like nothing at first then it came.. it's as bitter as putting Biogesic in your mouth without water haha. Warning: The taste lingers for a while.
Of course, we wanted to see his version of the compost too. It's very similar to Mr. Acosta's.
He showed us the natural heat produced that kills the bad bacteria in the process. He also turns it once in a while to add oxygen for the good bacteria.
Like Mr. Acosta, the greens for shredding just came from wild vegetation in his property.
He also uses vermicompost.
Mr. Tan was able to show us a different side of organic agri. That it's not just about salads ;)
He also practises multi-cropping and crop rotation for pest management (if any). Ultimately, everything has a purpose and nature has a way to bring back the balance in everything. He says having a farm gets easier to manage in time and you can hire farm hands if you want.
For now, he's only using around 1500 square meters of his 1.7 hectare land. I'm sure there are more developments to follow! Mr. Felix Tan is also an Outsanding Gawad Saka Regional Winner (2011).
This concludes a long day of farm tours in Benguet!
We were back at the ATI Dorm in no time =)
I looked forward to the meals at the ATI Canteen.
A whole tub of avocado and a big jug of barako coffee was waiting for us! Haha.
For merienda, we had pansit
then for dinner we had BBQ,
fresh greens chopseuy with mushrooms and chicharon
and their special frozen ubeng haleya (purple yam)!
Farm / ATI Organic Farming Learning Site Philippines Details:
Longlong, Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet
Organic Farm Rank: 6 stars (there is such a thing)
To visit the different ATI-assisted projects (Organic Farming Learning Sites), you can drop by or ask the ATI Regional Training Center nearest you or inquire through:
982AGRI (982-2474) for Metro Manila calls
1-800-10-982AGRI (1-800-10-9822474) for provincial toll-free calls using PLDT landlines
For Smart and Talk & Text Subscribers, send a message to 391-DA (391-32).
For non-Smart Subscribers, send a message to 0920-946AGRI (0920-9462474).
Check out my other Organic Agriculture (OA) Adventure posts:
My Victory Liner First Class Deluxe Experience to Baguio, Cafe by the Ruins Stopover and the Road to the Benguet State University in La Trinidad, ATI-CAR Dormitory & Canteen
Organic Agriculture Training and Farm Tour at Lily of the Valley Organic Farms in La Trinidad, Benguet
On the Way to Sagada from Benguet to Mt. Province, Awesome Rice Terraces Views, Bontoc Museum Sidetrip, Optional Tours and the Teng-Ab Retreat House