Lily of the Valley Organic Farm in Benguet is the first organic farm I was able to visit during the tour initiated by ATI-CAR (Agricultural Training Institute – Cordillera Area Region of the Department of Agriculture).
It just a few minutes away from the widely-known strawberry farms in La Trinidad. This organic farm is owned and managed by a fourth-generation farmer Jefferson Laruan.
Though he jokingly said that for an older guy like him, he cannot switch trade anymore. But as far as I can see, he is a organic farming devotee.
Even if Mr. Laruan came from the widely-used chemical fertilizers before, he bravely switched to organic farming years ago, when organic agriculture was just beginning to take its momentum in the Philippines.
At first, Jefferson said the shift was not easy. However, after some time, it was worth it. Seeing better crops and FAR healthier than the chemically-grown vegetables.
The Laruan couple said that they grow organic vegetables in Lily of the Valley and they get more than what they used to, in terms of a per piece value. Since, organic vegetables cost now, at least three times more than chemically-grown crops. Some even go beyond five times of the value of chemically-fertilized vegetables.
Looking back, with the small farm lot the Laruan’s have, they would surely be losing money now if they still continue to grow vegetables using chemical fertilizers than producing organic outputs. Since they would be needing more volume to at least break-even with the expenses. Compared to now that they get more value for their work for every organic output they produce.
Laruan’s “Play” with Compost
In the Laruan’s farm, they use grass as their base compost for their fertilizer. Compared to other organic farms in the region, Jefferson Laruan uses “muco sako”(if the spelling is correct) a natural protein to induce decomposition.
Muco sako is also good for flowering plants to promote better flowers.
The farm has been growing high-value vegetables like different varieties of lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, and other crops.
He advises other farmers to go into organic farming as well, as it would be better for the farmers in terms of earnings, at the same time, it will help more people be more healthy.
Laruan, together with other ATI officials said, that sadly, many vegetables coming from different parts of the Philippines, and even the ones sold in Baguio City, are not certain if it is free from chemical fertilizers.
Sad, but true.
Imagine the vegetables and fruits we eat being sprayed and applied with different chemicals. I wonder if washing and cooking the vegetables would help wash away the chemicals (eeeewwwww…)
It made me think of the vegetables and fruits that I or my mom bought in the past. I love vegetables and fruits, but I wonder, how many are really healthy for me to consume.
Going back to the farm, the Laruan husband and wife, converted a place for accommodation for people wanting to a one-of-a-kind La Trinidad, Benguet experience with the whole farm as their “garden” and REAL organic food as their meals – straight from the farm.
In this instance that Jefferson Laruan is clinging onto the word of the current government officials to make it easier for travelers and traders to go in and out of their place, since it a bit hard to get into the place since the road leading to Lily of the Valley Organic Farm is small and underdeveloped.
The Lily of the Valley Organic Farm also serves as a training facility and demo farm for local and foreign delegates wanting to learn more about organic farming.
If more farmers will be educated that switching to organic agriculture gives more value to their outputs, they will most likely switched to organic farming.
However, many farmers still look into the “volume” of the crops they produce, not on the “value” of their output.
The quantity of output doesn’t always mean higher earnings. Most of the time, it is the QUALITY of the output that matters. This is not an election anyway. 🙂
RESOURCES’ CONTACT INFO:
Lily of the Valley Organic Farm can be reached through 0949-399-7126
For more information on how to learn organic agriculture you may contact the Agricultural Training Institute of the Department of Agriculture at:
1800-10-982AGRI (or 1800-10-9822474) – for provincial toll-free calls
02-982-AGRI (or 982-2474) – for Metro Manila
0920-946AGRI (0920-9462474) for mobile calls
391DA (or 391-32) for Smart and Talk ‘N Text subscribers
0920-946AGRI (0920-9462474) for Globe, TM and Sun Cellular subscribers