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Monday, October 16, 2017

Day 1: Sonrisa Farm, Cam Sur

An organic farmer is the best peacemaker today, because there is more violence, more death, more destruction, more wars, through a violent industrial agricultural system. And to shift away from that into an agriculture of peace is what organic farming is doing.
--Vandana Shiva

Author and environmental activist Wendell Berry wrote in his book, "The Gift of Good Land"

"An organic farm, properly speaking, is not one that uses certain methods and substances and avoids others; it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system that has the integrity, the independence and the benign dependence of an organism"

Its hard to believe that what once was the only way of farming for thousands of years has now become the alternative in today’s modern society. For thousands of years traditional farming was the only way to farm. Everything was natural and organic. There were no chemical fertilizers, pesticides and GMO to help bear fruits, crops or produce.

But with the start of the industrial revolution, the invention of chemicals and pesticides, and the global demand for more food, farmers began to adopt more “modern” methods—using fertilizers that are either mined or manufactured as well as other means to speed up growth and increase their produce.

It’s a good thing that organic has been making a comeback in recent years and I’m glad that our farmers have become more conscious on to take care of the soil and in a way help save the environment.

Did you know Organic farming actually reduces carbon dioxide and help slow climate change?

Ever since I joined my first organic farm tour a couple of years ago, it has become my advocacy to help promote the farmers who are paving the way for a healthier generation of Filipinos.

Visiting these farms has also become a respite from all the hustle and bustle in the city, a rare chance for me to get some fresh air and enjoy the sight of fruit bearing trees where you can just pick a ripe fruit and eat it if you want to.

Believe it or not, visiting a farm can just be as relaxing as going to the beach or some other trip. It frees you of all the negativity and stress surrounding city. Being close to nature is the key to finding one's peace even for just two days.

Its always a treat to be able to feast on fresh but organic fruit and vegetables graciously prepared for us by our hosts and getting to know the owners and farmers involved in the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Organic Agriculture is equally as fulfilling.

For the 9th ATI OA Bloggers Trip, we went to Naga and Legazpi last September 18-20 to explore the organic farms in Bicol.

Bicolandia is known for their Pili delicacies, the spicy Laing, the majestic Mt. Mayon and their pristine beaches.  My mother was originally from the province of Sorsogon.  So I have been to Bicol several times in the past, it was however my first time to take a plane to Naga which took just an hour compared to the 4hrs bus ride.

The first farm that we got to visit was the Sonrisa Farm in Magarao, Camarines Sur. It is a 3.5 hectare land located near Mt. Isarog. The farm is owned by Ms. Cherry Lo and its a home to a growing diversity of local vegetables, plants, high value crops and livestock which was grown naturally. She never uses harmful pesticides to grow her crops. I was just amazed that she plants Zinnia and Marigold flowers to ward off insects to destroy her produce.

A breast cancer survivor, Ms. Cherry told us her story of how being diagnosed with breast cancer changed her outlook in life.

She started to look for a farm when her brother, a doctor based abroad, advised her to change her lifestyle. She started planting lettuce, stevia, herbs, organic colored rice and other fruit bearing trees. She also created a “stingless bee keeping” hive to produce honey.

While her fruits, like guavas for example, may not look like the usual ones we see in photos and supermarkets, and may even look deformed—its because she doesn’t use any chemical spray to make them look perfect and flawless.

So if you’re eating a deformed guyabano, guava or any fruit for that matter. It is a sign that the fruit is organic or naturally grown.

In every farm that I visit, I always feature plants or crops that amazed me. This time I discovered Zinnia flowers in brightest colors of pink, orange and red. Zinnia flowers helps ward off insects, because they are attracted to the colorful petals. They can be used as shield to the crops or produce. They are easy to grow, you just have to spread out their withered petals to the ground. In about 3 weeks you'll see them growing abundantly in the ground.

Another is the awara plant. This plant has so many uses. The leaves could be used as sinigang mix because of its soursop.

Awara is used for skin applications. It helps to hydrate the skin and to soothe the scalp and also gives a natural gloss to damaged hair.

Our farm tour would not be complete without tasting their produce and we were glad Ms Cherry prepared a healthy and sumptuous lunch with snacks, harvested from her farm to table. She cooked it herself. The dished prepared were delicious and freshly cooked same with healthy fruit juices and organic black coffee.  My favorite is her salad with Blue Ternate leaves and mighty okra with fillings. I enjoyed all the dishes she cooked for us. I can live with vegetables and fruits alone. She told us that she occasionally cooks for those who visit her farm.

If you’re planning to visit Camarines Sur, you can drop by Sonrisa Farm and enjoy a farm tour for only php150 per person inclusive of complimentary snacks.

Sonrisa Farm
Carangcang Magarao, Camarines Sur
0917 329 3129

Agricultural Training Institute Central Office
ATI Building, Elliptical Road, Diliman
Quezon City 1100 Philippines
Trunkline: (63-2) 9298541 to 49
Fax no. (63-2) 9209792

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