15 Things I learned from Organic and Natural Farming Seminar at Herbana Farm

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“If we follow the rule of nature, we will not make mistakes; if we follow the rule of man, we will make a lot of mistakes.”

Those were the words of Gil Carandang referring to climate change that affects the lives of millions of people. He showed us, seminar participants, how man can destroy his environment; and how man can restore nature – through organic farming. A discussion about the natural elements of nature in farming, made me aware how it affects our environment, plants and animals, particularly us humans. While he was giving a 3-day Intensive Seminar on Microbial Organic, Natural Piggery & Free-Range Chicken at Herbana Farms in Laguna last April 24-26, I listed down the things I learned from his lecture-demo.

Here’s my list, in random, of Gil Carandang’s ideas and teachings:

  1. Natural elements in organic farming are: earth/soil, water, wind/air, Fire/sunlight/heat, beneficial and indigenous microorganisms, & bionutrients.
  2. On Ecological & economic sustainability: “Pag mataba ang lupa, siguradong masagana ang ani (If the soil is fertile, yield is bountiful).”
  3. The two-fold problems of farmers: Issues on Soil Fertility and Pests & diseases.
  4. Three uses of food plants are: to be eaten, to sell, and to be given back to soil fertility.
  5. 8 Ways to fertilize the soil: the use of organic matter, compost, animal manure, green manure, mulch, organic fertilizer, Biological Indigenous Microorganisms or B.I.M. a mix of both Korean and Japan technologies (EM in Korea, IMO in Japan), microbial Inoculation, and crop rotation.
  6. How to identify legumes is through pods. If the seeds came from pods then it is a legume i.e., beans, peas, malunggay (moringa oleifera), ampalaya (bitter gourd/Momordica charantia), sampalok (tamarind/Tamarindus indica), and peanut (Arachis hypogaea). They share the same characteristics in terms of water consumption. They need less water, thus better plant them during summer. Plant them during rainy season and the roots are subject to either too much moisture or fungal infection/diseases, that in no time, they rot and die.
  7. Seaweeds, aside from being rich in minerals, have natural growth hormone called auxin.
  8. Kangkong (water spinach/ Ipomoea aquatica) like seaweeds, has natural growth hormone (they grow and spread out even without fertilizers) – best to use as Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ) -a growth promotant for leafy vegetables like pechay (Brassica rapa).
  9. Those who use synthetic growth hormones are prone to hormonal imbalance which could cause cancers like breast cancer.
  10. Flea beetle is the name of the pest that punches holes on pechay leaves, difficult to get rid of, due to its habit of fleeing, thus making it difficult to raise pechay compared to lettuce.
  11. Meat is hard to digest. Once stocked up in your body, it makes your body acidic. Once our body is acidic, it means ailments.
  12. If you drink fermented Takip kuhol (Gotu kola/ Centella asiatica) extract every day, you can grow old more than a hundred years.
  13. Spraying diluted solution of lactic acid bacteria serum to the plant and soil helps plant growth and makes them more healthy.
  14. On becoming an Organic Farmer: “Kung gusto mong maging organic farmer, bawal ang tamad, tanga, at takot.” (If you want to become an Organic farmer, you are not allowed to be lazy, fool (who hates to think and analyze things out), and coward (afraid to try new things in farming).
  15. On taking care of Nature: “If we don’t take care of nature, one day we will be like dinosaurs – extinct.”

Those are just a few things I learned from the 3-day seminar and it’s just a tip of an iceberg; there’s more to it, and I think it’s unfair to share it all in here. Best to attend the seminar yourself and you’ll see how the seminar could really make you think more, rather than simply welcoming the wealth of knowledge, and be called an Organic romantic.

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Other activities include lecture–demo on how to grow your own beneficial indigenous microorganisms (B.I.M.), how to make your own concoctions of probiotics, make yogurt, ferment plant and fruit juices or extract biological nutrient from raw materials readily available in your area, and make your own natural feeds for chicken and pigs. On the other hand, a tour around Gil Carandang’s mini-farm gave us a glimpse of how a 1,000 sqm lot could be enough, and even more than enough to sustain a family’s basic needs. Another mini-tour around a vegetable garden at his “Herbana Farm” introduced us to other forms of organic farming technologies which we could also adapt later on in our own respective farming activities.

To sum it up, it was a rare kind of seminar loaded with viable information on the use of beneficial microorganisms and different techniques in organic and natural farming, that anyone could experiment based on the idea of adaptability and sustainability. The seminar was intensive and holistic in approach that anyone could start his own farm anytime soon. Now the door is wide open for us to explore the real world of organic farming – time for us to grow our own food, save some money, start a healthy living and help save lives.

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