More ATI Seminars and Training Programs Go Online and On Radio!

Hi, Guys! We're going towards our third month of being in quarantine due to the COVID-19 virus. I've been busy with work still, unfortunately, and squeeze in cooking for survival and fun in my home. I've resigned to just gaining stock knowledge on what I eat and what I want to eat in the future, completing and learning more about my growing spice collection and herb processing in my spare time. In my last post, I talked about free online organic farming courses by the Agricultural Training Institute. With its success, the ATI is once again using information and communications technology to modify the "old" face-to-face training and increase knowledge on agriculture nationwide with the launch of various alternative learning opportunities and school-on-the-air programs to the public for free! I was really delighted when I started to see other ATI Regions come up with interesting ideas like recipes, contests that broaden your knowledge on plant identification and simple food growing techniques that resound with a city girl like me. I hope they continue on giving urban agriculture starter kits as well as these are my kind of "ayuda" - the ayuda that cost less, the ayuda that will teach people, rich or poor, the value of food security and the ayuda that will keep on giving and sustain by itself in the years to come.

Free Organic Farming Online Courses by ATI Extension E-Learning To Do during ECQ!

Most of us are forced to stay at home as part of our contribution to this COVID-19 health crisis happening worldwide. If you’ve done some cooking, baking, working from home, cleaning, exercising, reading, homeschooling, watching Netflix, binge eating or none of the above, here’s another activity you might want to consider. Thousands of Pinoys are checking out ATI’s free e-learning courses at the moment! The Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) is the Philippine Department of Agriculture’s training arm for farmers and enthusiasts in the Philippines nationwide. They are offering more than 60 courses about crops, urban gardening, beekeeping, livestock, marine and fisheries (like seaweed farming), social technology (food safety, costing), entrepreneurship (marketing) and sustainable agriculture (like vermicompost and how to make fertilizers). You can take up as much courses as you want, for FREE, at your own pace, on your own time and at your own place. And even after the ECQ has been lifted, you can still continue the courses, go forth and explore organic farms around the country or world (like me, check out my organic journey posts), eat healthily and/or start your own little farm/garden at home from what you have learned.

Forest Wood Garden Farm Tour and Rambutan Picking in San Pablo Laguna!

J and I spent 3 days last year to go a short tour of Quezon and San Pablo, Laguna. The highlights include him driving to Villa Escudero (because I wanted him to experience my childhood memory of the place) then to Sulyap Bed and Breakfast where we stayed in an old restored house with a fun historical museum and Casa San Pablo which had a very romantic ambiance for dinner. We wanted to go to the Forest City Restaurant for their mushroom specialties but it was already time to go home and they were fully booked! This time around, with the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), I got to experience the other and original Forest Wood Garden first (the Frago family farm) in a whole new different level (not just sitting down and eating) by go hiking in their forest and pick my first rambutan!! Haha.


Philippine Native Plant Introduction and Appreciation at MoCa Family Farm in Batangas!

I spent the last 2 weekends reading up about Philippine Native Plants thanks to the coffee table book Sariling Atin by Moca Family Farm RL Learning Center in partnership with ATI Calbarzon. In it, Ka Gigi Morris lists down 25 promising indigenous plants in the Philippines. I ended up researching more about 14 of them because it naturally piqued my interest and I’ve never really seen most of them, even in our Organic Agriculture trips with the ATI since 2010


Hopefully, after I write about them here, I would remember to look for them from now on and get to eat or touch them haha. They actually occur in natural forests and we don’t often see these forest food and fruit species but an introduction to agricultural areas and domestication to propagate may help in food security and in protecting them from extinction.


Memorable Farm Stay and 4x4 Tour at Terra Verde Ecofarm & Resort in Maragondon Cavite!

You’ll find this next farm in the heritage town of Maragondon, Cavite. Terra Verde Ecofarm & Resort was a great escape from Manila for me even for just an overnight stay in our 3D2N CALABARZON trip with the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). We spent the whole evening with Sir Eric Atanacio just talking about anything and everything - from the farm to blogging to business and most importantly life and being happy. The farm became a retreat for their family from stress and they’ve opened it up for the public, especially the youth for picnics, team-building and hands-on farming experiences. On the other hand, they seek to revive ancient traditions like weaving (Habing Maragondon), provide locals with alternative livelihood, protect the natural resources they have and just found, rediscover the role of Maragondon in history and  build the character of the people in the area.


Hog Raising Sneak Peek at Teofely Nature Farms and Native Pig Lechon at the ATI Agriculturally Awesome Event in Teofely Gardens!

Our visit to Teofely Nature Farms in Silang Cavite last month was very timely for the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic that already entered the country recently. Although ASF is not harmful to humans when ingested, it could potentially eliminate the entire hog industry here in the country. Imagine if they wipe out our very own endemic native pigs. Black native pig lechon is probably one of the best lechon I’ve had so far... Let me take you on a tour and tell you about some of Teofely’s tips on raising healthy and naturally farm grown native pigs and if you want, you can also attend their seminars on profitable hog raising that will teach you the basics, the best practices and even value adding like turning pork to longganisa. Teofely is DOT accredited as a farm destination, ATI accredited as a learning site and extension service provider and a TESDA farm school in one! You can also go to Batangas this month to join the October Blackfeast (October 18) where their best lechon masters are competing 😋


Farms and Where to Stay Overnight in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon and Tagaytay - Accommodations at the ATI Calabarzon Dormitory and Gorgeous Farms!

From almost a decade ago until now, in support of RA10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, I consider myself fortunate enough to become an Organic Agriculture (OA) blogger in partnership with the Agricultural Training Institute of the Philippine Department Agriculture (DA-ATI). Back then, I didn’t even think about going to farms on my own for leisure. Where can I find them right and who do I talk to? Slowly but surely and with the onset of technological advances, I now look forward to easy DIY farm tours and staying for a few days away from my hectic city life. I am very happy that our current Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Puyat came from the DA and now the two agencies collaborate more to promote farm tourism at last 💕 This year, ATI CALABARZON and DOT published the Agriculturally Awesome: Regional Farm Tourism Guide for Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon farms and ATI learning sites to help us plan more trips and connect directly to farms and farmers 😊 One such farm featured is Gorgeous Farms - located along the  Tagaytay highway! Read my post below on the available accommodations on your way to farms in CALABARZON  and Tagaytay


Sanctuario Nature Farms in Indang Mendez Cavite - Practical Organic Farming Tips, Vegetarian Vermi, Fermented Plant Juice, FFJ and OHN Recipes!

If you have time to spare and want a ton of practical knowledge and tips, I suggest you visit this NGO operating Sanctuario Nature Farms near Manila! They're devoted to finding new technologies and economic ways of farming and teaching others (esp. future agriculturists) how to farm and earn money from it! They have a partnership with Cavite State University to send OJTs there where they let the students use a plot of land and water to grow what they want as their final entrepreneurial development project (EDP). Any produce is theirs to sell so they learn to grow, research, budget and market the produce at the same time so the younger are reminded that there is money in agriculture and it can actually be fun. We only spent 1.5 hours there and despite the rain, I was on farming info overload from Farm Operator Manager Michelle (Mitch) Razo haha. She is very generous when it comes to tips and recipes so I wanted to share some of the things I learned with you too - on vegetarian vermicompost, plant introductions, concoctions and practical farming! Aside from being an accredited Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Learning Site, they are also TESDA accredited to conduct trainings and seminars for the public on organic farming.