Let's continue the organic farm journey! We went to The Master's Garden in La Trinidad after the Lily of the Valley Organic Farm (LOV, around 20 minutes by van). Here we learned that a healthy organic garden starts with the perfect farmer's compost. This farm is different from the LOV because it uses a very small piece of land, "micro-eco farm", yet the owner Mr. Pat Acosta was able to maximize it to support his family. So if you have thoughts on wanting to make an organic farm/garden and your stop is that your land is not very big or you think organic farming is laborious and costly or you don't know where to start, this may be the farm and post for you =D Personally, I liked that everything was explained in basic terms and that Mr. Acosta was a professor at UP so he was able to express himself and explain more about his thoughts on OA (organic agri) to us.
There's just a small sign in the highway. Mr. Acosta said you can get here by public transpo from Baguio (I heard 2 rides).
From the highway, we walked down
and saw this! This is a 3000 square meter farm.
Mr. Acosta welcomed us at his Compost Chamber. The compost produced here serves as fertilizer to feed the soil. Here you will be taught how to convert your kitchen waste, weeds, etc. into compost in the most economical, practical and simplest way that he has been doing already for the longest time in his farm. Even the cemented floor has an explanation.
Don't worry it doesn't smell. He doesn't use manure, just pure leaves and some wild vegetation he picks up from his farm. But one HAS to shred these immediately within the day =)
He says you'll need a heavy-duty shredder (Mr. Laruan from the Lily of the Valley Organic Farm makes some, not this brand, Mr. Acosta uses the Handy 4-in-1) for the compost. Some organic farmers have a cooperative and share a shredder. The government (DSWM) also has provisions to give away some free shredders for organized groups =)
He adds a natural concoction (something like sugar, vinegar, etc.) so that it will act as an enzyme to hasten the composting. No manure is included because according to Mr. Acosta, this is (an animal's) waste product already so they have little nutritional value (it's something that the body doesn't need anymore).
These are the end products. =) Simple and easy, Mr. Acosta says a farmer can use the wild vegetation so the cost is actually low for the farmer and he can earn more with organic agri.
Since The Master's Garden is also an educational facility, Mr. Acosta took us to the many processes involved in growing vegetables. He showed us the Seed Setting Chamber. The plants start as seeds, are alive and grow into healthy plants with the right conditions and some TLC. Here you'll be taught more about the seed, the problems encountered, what it takes to make the seed grow, the right temperature, etc. Mr. Acosta said to buy the most expensive seeds.
Next, there's the Transplanting Chamber where you'll be taught proper handling, what potting mix to use, sunlight hours, watering schedule and other stuff about how it will not die on you so quickly. Hehe.
All of the chambers are just a few steps away - very, very organized. It's like walking into classrooms without chairs =) The Seed and Seedling in Tray Nursery is next. The baby plants are kept in this section until they are big enough for pots. It's covered so as not to be disturbed by birds. Watering and weeding are easier when they are put in groups like these. You'll learn how to make them strong seedlings.
They use paper pots (newspaper I think) for some here. Pretty genius, easy to pick up, not costly and biodegradable too!
See how they put all of these together and in sequence? Very good use of space. There's shade too.
The last area we saw from that elevated area was the Seedling in Pots Nursery. So to increase the mortality rate of your seedlings, transferring them to individual plastic pots from seedling trays is done.
Here you'll learn how to water them, which plant boosters to give, how to handle them and how to increase their resistance against pest and diseases before you transfer the grown seedlings into the open field.
Here's a summary of the difference between organic and chemical farming as explained by Mr. Acosta.
"To the maximum extent feasible, organic farming systems rely upon crop rotation, crop residue, animal manures, legumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes, mechanical cultivation and mineral bearing rocks. It also relies on aspects of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and tilthe, to supply plant nutrients and to control insects, weeds and other pests." My greatest takeaway from this farm: Organic agri is a low input sustainable agricuture - you'll just need to know the tricks ;) Mr. Acosta told us a story about other traditional farmers bringing in a truck of veggies to the market and him bringing in only 20 kilos of his organic produce. The end income was the same. =)
Let's take a break and head to the Multi-Purpose Hall for lunch!
There, you can see the Mrs.' organic ornamental plants like the Cacti below and taste some of her cooking!
Farm / ATI Organic Farming Learning Site Philippines Details:
ME-133 Lamtang-Pico Road, Barangay Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet
+63917-9258499 (Pat) / +63917-6468134 (Ana)
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