Organic Agriculture, A Booming Business in the Philippines
With the growing demand for organic products mainly vegetables and fruits due to lifestyle change and health awareness, Organic Farming is one promising industry and business to get on with.
With more demand than ever before, you have many options for starting your own farm business. You might choose to start a small organic farm like raising livestock, producing products like milk or eggs and growing fresh fruits or vegetable.
When you become an organic farmer, you will have a sustainable business that will allow you to raise a healthy, non-chemical crop or livestock. Not just that, you will be able to reach out and help your community by giving employment, business opportunity and also agri-tourism(events and services such as farm tours or pick your own fruit or vegetables) to market your organic farm and increase your profits that will contribute to community development.
One example is an Organic Farm somewhere in La Trinidad Benguet, The Master’s Garden, a Micro-eco farm about 3000 square meters land area owned by Mr. Pat Acosta.
The farm was built year 2009, focusing mainly on salad greens and vegetable crops. From raw land, Mr. Pat Acosta started developing this land carefully and manually carving the rolling terrain making it a well organized mini organic farm today.
Mr. Acosta proudly says that “The Master’s Garden” is one of the first Organic Farm in Benguet, passed the standard setting and completed the requirements, 1st to be certified, by Organic Certification Center of the Philippines within the area.
Even if you practice Organic farming and give a declaration to your customers “Our products are organic” still you are not considered “Organic” unless you are certified by Organic Certification Center of the Philippines. So, if you are planning to do Organic Farming as your business you MUST pass the four phases of OCCT and receive certification first from them (http://www.occpphils.org/certification.htm).
Back to The Master’s Garden. The farm has different sections…
THE COMPOST CHAMBER
This is where the farm create and produce organic grass compost. The farm never uses manure as fertilizer. They only use wild grass + EM1(EM1 function as catalyst to increase the fertilization process of the grass compost before putting it to the soil).
This is the grass shredder used to chop the grass for compost. this cost about Php100,ooo per unit. For beginners and starters in organic farming you may ask your local agricultural unit office for availability of this machine,if not available, you can do manual chopping of the grass.
THE SEED SETTING CHAMBER
This is where seeds are being processed and segregated.
This is where transfer of seedlings happen from one container to another.
SEED AND SEEDLING IN TRAY NURSERY
This is where seedlings are placed until they are big enough to be transplanted into pots. Different seedlings are placed in the nursery together so that seedlings get the care that they need. This process also makes watering and weeding easier.
SEEDLING IN POST NURSERY
This is where transferring from seedling trays to plastic pots took place. The nursery ensures steady monitoring of a good number of young plants in a limited area.
THE MULTI-PURPOSE HALL
This area serves as soup and salad refreshments bar, lecture hall, coffee shop or simply a social hall. This hall is where garden enthusiast and farmers learn details to be more successful organic farming practitioners, exchanging ideas, experiences and support each other.
This is the grow-out area where plants from nursery are transported to grow to full maturity. Crop rotation, companion planting and crop programming are practiced in this area. The farm also take care of the soil because they believe that the plants health is a reflection of the soil’s condition. “A healthy soil will raise healthy crops”-said Mr. Acosta.
The Masters Garden also has a WATERING HOLE beneficial to the plants and animals in the farm. The farm has PLANT AND GARDEN EQUIPMENT SALES AREA where visitors can try planting and can buy a variety of vegetables, flowering plants, herbs and ornamental for a very reasonable price. Garden equipments are also made available in this area. HERB GARDEN is also available in the farm where they grow a wide array of popular herbs for the farm’s kitchen itself and serve the needs of some chefs and restaurants.Lastly, the SERVANTS’ QUARTER where people working in the farm resides. The servant’s quarter is off limits to visitors.
For almost 8 years now, The Master’s Garden is never selfish in sharing their knowledge about organic farming. Its purpose to be able to influence and teach farmers to go and try organic farming for them to start their own, to earn and benefit from it since conventional farming is more expensive, uses chemical pesticides and is harmful to health in the long run. What I like about the Master’s Garden is that everything they produce now is being sold over Metro Manila not within the area to give chance to small players. Even if the Master’s Garden is big already, it never kill its competitors but in fact helps them grow.
The Master’s Garden offers a 2-day Comprehensive Training Program for only 1000/person/day with snacks, lunch, and materials.
For interested participants, you may call the Master’s Garden