When I go to the provinces in the Philippines, I see endless farmland and I'm reminded that if no one wants to go into farming, then we'd all starve. Transforming the farmers' mindset from barely surviving into thriving agripreneurs - this is one of the goals of MS Penalosa. I think it includes encouraging a city-bred person like me to not discount farming as a viable business idea. I learned a little bit more about the language of the soil, the language of plants, the language of the animal and the art of war against pests and diseases at Peñalosa Farms in Negros Occidental (read about Part 1 of this visit here). I was constantly reminded of the 4 Ls of Mr. Penalosa while we're there - Live (you're alive and there is life around you), Learn (that farming is constantly a work in progress), Love (love what nature is giving us, love pigs, there is income in sh*t) and Laugh (to have fun, smile and never take yourself seriously). Haha. ;P
For this trip, he divided us into 3 groups, gave us homework for a working lunch, urged us to explore every nook of the Penalosa property then asked us to present our observations and learnings about his sustainable model farm.
Group 1 (ours) was given the task to list all the income-generating activities here, connect them all together and estimate the farm annual income. To think that this was a business, I was surprised with how open Mr. Penalosa was. Ideally, this was where a farmer can get inspiration and realize that he can earn and produce so much more when it comes to converting to organic and/or adopting some ideas from another farmer and/or educating himself further.
We began our quest and we spotted people putting plants in pots as well as making something out of scrap materials. I think they were creating a decorative piece here out of bamboo.
Here they're making their bricks to maybe sell from apog and cement.
The structure of this Penalosa guesthouse is made from that.
Just look at their ideas for a vertical garden.
Group 2 was given the task to find 30 culinary herbs, 10 botanical plants that can be processed into higher value, 10 pesticidal plants and 10 medical plants. They were also asked to smell, feel and taste. Phew! Haha.
I was wondering why they have a patch where plants looked unhealthy. Turns out they attract the pests to go here so that they'll leave the other plants alone.
Group 3 was asked to find 10 power plants (you don't need to buy feeds for livestock production and organic aquaculture if you have these), 10 bioremediation plants for waste treatment and to gain deeper knowledge of the swine industry (a 440-billion industry in the Philippines). They had to smell the pigs, touch them and go near a piglet to know if you have a heart for livestock (young pigs will like you). They were to find out how to make fermented rice bran (ipa, which they use as pig feeds) and the best practices in housing plus hygiene (how to make them not smell). Mr. Penalosa said that they apply their homemade P2 to disinfect bacteria that the guests bring in (in a way this protects pigs from us) and P5 for odor and to repel flies.
For us, we included their restaurant Cafe Organico in their income-generating activities, as well as selling of souvenirs, compost, enzymes and processed foods. I would gladly buy the yummy red onion sauce for P220.
I love the floor made of bottles...
You can fit quite a lot of people in training here.
I think we needed all the organic brain food we can get for the assignment and all that crunch time haha. I guess its also because we worked so hard for this meal LOL.
Hidden Mickey! Hehe. This has got to be one of the best organic meals (ingredients from their farm) we had during the trip.
As I said, the red onion sauce was one of my favorites.
I even put some in these pechay fritters that I came back for again and again.
The fish was also superb.
For soup, there's squash
and chicken binakol.
For dessert, there's fruit salad.
For our presentation, we estimated that Penalosa Farms earns about P600,000 a month (well we asked an Ate haha). Income can come from a mix of selling veggies and ornamental plants, the salad bar kiosk we saw, feeds, bricks (1 kg. of cement and 800 kgs. of apog makes 250 bricks x P10), 50 bed spaces x P1500 with meals, agri trainings, hogs (gives birth twice a year, our computation was like up to P375000) and organic fish.
Mr. Penalosa did help us a bit by explaining the interconnectedness through a fun demo. Think "you are the papa pig, you are a sow, you come here you're the piglet, I can do a lot of stuff with just swine like sell you or breed and so on." Hehe. After a very long discussion, we were all up to our feet and he already lacked people to name as fish, power plants, bioremediation plants, etc. By the end of it, we were pretty much in awe of the relation of everything he has in his farm and how all these coexist to fulfill their own potential. =)
This chart shows the different herbs and their other properties according to Group 2. Mr. Penalosa said you can develop your own Farm-acy hehe. The important thing is to know your plants.
As for Group 3, I learned about the Madre de Agua that they use as low-cost feeds for the piggies. Power plants like this are mixed with fermented rice bran (1L of P4, 200L water, 2L of something sorry haha, 2 kgs of rice bran).
The plants below are bio-remediation plants. They absorb the dirty stuff haha - the most notable being kangkong! Love kangkong? Well, you better know where it came from (as it can easily grow in canals and are sold at a cheap price)!!! It was fun to know that the Penalosa Farm started as a response to Taytay Bahu (dead river) which always floods. Mr. Penalosa planted kangkong (a bio-remediation plant see? haha) then eventually to the swine industry. 4 pigs became 400. They were faced with a lot of sh*t (pig poo) so they made them into compost. The farm was made into an organic and integrated farm then now it has evolved into a tourism destination and training center.
Below are duck weed. They are purposely allowed to cover the water's surface like that. This is a very low-cost natural filter for a farm.
This is a nice chart to have - if you want to repel insects, pests and small animals the natural way.
We've also been exposed to companion planting in the previous farm visits.
Why not drop by the Penalosa Farm for a visit? I sure learned a lot during this day! You don't have to have prior knowledge about organic farming to come here ;) Their core business are pigs (they have grower, gilt, sow and so on o diba haha) and power plants (as in plants that are powerful). Pigs can be turned into chorizo, ham, lechon while (as I understood) power plants are components of jam, jelly, vitamins, supplements and organic feeds.
Farm / ATI Organic Farming Learning Site Philippines Details:
Magsasaka Siyentista Ramon "Mon" Dayrit Peñalosa, Jr.
#7 Quirino St. Victorias City
Negros Occidental, Philippines
0917-3004861 / 0917-3325687
0917-3633885 (Andrew Penalosa) / 0922-2624500
How to Get There - Take a bus from Bacolod City Ceres North Bus Terminal to Victorias City Bus Terminal. Penalosa Farms is near the bus terminal.
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).
AgriTecture at Penalosa Farms in Negros Occidental - Learning about the Importance of Integrated Organic Farming and Swine Business near Bacolod