It was one hot sunny day of July when we trouped to a farm. It was a trip unplanned, got no idea who will be with us and everything seemed to happen so fast. Soon, we all found ourselves in Warren’s car amazed at each other’s story on how we get into that trip.
Noemi Tirona of Philippine Natural Farming Philippines Inc., has a scheduled out-of-town flight in the afternoon and has to leave at 4pm. EJ, of Bohol Farm Resort was also in a haste to see Warren Tan – the farm owner, thinking they were just going out somewhere. Dennis and I took Warren’s invitation a day prior to the tour as one simple get away from the city, see the farm, then buy some vegetables to bring home right after.
Warren’s Natural Farm
We left Quezon City at 9am and reached the farm in Samal, Bataan at around 11am- under the heat of a scorching sun.
At 10,535 sq. meters, Warren’s farm is not the usual farm with vegetables and animals that I’d been expecting earlier. Acquired in 2011, the farm has its rugged terrains with live fences of Madre de cacao and these trees serve as effective wind barriers. They are also nitrogen fixers which are beneficial to plants and animals because of the nitrogen it can emit in the air, better known as atmospheric nitrogen according to Warren.
First thing he wanted us to see was the spring at one side of his farm, but the slope downhill was simply difficult for us ladies to trek so we did not push through.
We headed to the opposite side of the farm instead, and it was a feast to the eyes watching a bounty of santol fruits clinging on its branches. Then I noticed ripe Santol fruits left scattered on the ground- most of them were already rotten. Before I could ask, Warren started to explain (as translated from Filipino).
“I allow them to rot naturally to fertilize the soil, and I don’t use IMO because indigenous microorganisms are already abundant in this farm, so why add more? It’s only used for farms that needed extra nourishment.”(translated from Filipino)
He said somebody wants to buy his Santol fruits but he chose not to. According to him, the decaying fruits serve as soil conditioner which save him further expenses on nitrogen inputs and some unnecessary farm tasks.
Those ideas sounded new to me and I was left thinking about the possibility of fertilizing a farm with rotten fruits and atmospheric nitrogen.
Bamboos along the off-the-beaten-path
Warren then took the lead towards the lush green bamboos and as we trekked down the hill, cool air touched our skin and bamboo leaves swayed in a gust of wind. Our steps began to take strides with excitement, wondering what to see next as we trod a narrow path that seemed to me was Robert Frost’s road less traveled. With the air so invigorating, so fresh and cool, nature was certainly a beckon of tranquility in this natural farm.
The sight of dark green poles of bamboos in a vertical array instantly soothed our eyes from sun’s exposure. Oxygen loaded bamboo leaves was certainly a breath of fresh air to our lungs that has been so long occupied with the metro’s carbon monoxide and other air pollutants. This variety according to Warren is called Buho and it has many uses around the farm like where he houses some of his chickens and turkeys for shelter.
Beating around the bush of Papayas
Here’s the papaya plantation seen in only a portion of Warren’s property. The farm’s terrains are rugged and papayas according to Warren are best suited for such a kind of land. When asked why plant Sinta Papayas and not lettuce and other high value vegetables, he said (translated from Filipino), “It’s already common; besides, I am planning to sell them not raw but bottled “atchara” Also, Sinta variety is more profitable than the Red lady variety, that is why I preferred Sinta. Our own local farmers would usually sell them raw or ripe but it’s not profitable, and if it’s not profitable, it cannot be sustainable.”
To Warren, for a farm to be sustainable, it should also be profitable.
Now, Dennis had to climb the water tank just to take a photo of this horizon: Cavite City at the left, West Philippine Sea at the right .
Below (left), the papaya stem has been destroyed by a typhoon and it needed to be cut down. To save it from rotting during the rainy season, Warren wrapped a plastic bag around it for protection. Eventually this will grow branches from its sides and that’s the time to unwrap. This is one useful tip from Warren.
Further right are kalamansi plants growing in between papayas – a kind of integrated farming.
As we trekked up and down Warren’s farm, we encountered more useful plants .
One is Madre de Agua (left), a nutrient-packed forage for pigs. Another is Biga (right), a plant with juices that is used as natural insecticide.
The Water Source
We continued the journey further down the farm, and there nestled right below the bamboos and the fig-like trees was a pond with some big rocks dotting its surface. Once this pond is developed, I figured out, could be one beautiful attraction of the farm. EJ, Noemi and I shared the same thoughts.
Then when I gazed above the pond, I noticed some fruit-bearing trees. Pointing at one of the trees, I asked Warren: “Fig tree ba yan? (Is that a fig tree?)
Warren answered:” That is Tibig– and that tree can release thousands of liters of water per year. ”
Tibig trees grow abundantly in his farm and wherever tibig trees are many, there is a water source. No wonder the first stream on the other side of his farm was formed and it was all because of a variety of trees around it,- and Tibig trees are the major contributors on the making of that spring. Tibig roots are sponge-like that absorbs water during the rainy season and releases water during summer.
Warren lead us to another water source, clean sparkling water run down the water pipe he made available to anyone visiting his farm. Water drops from the water pipe was just so fitting to have it right there at the end of the slope to quench one’s thirst.
Here’s a stream just near the pond. This stream, according to Warren, is rich in silica and other minerals. From this water source, atmospheric minerals are derived from it.
Atmospheric minerals are also needed by the plants – the reason why he is giving emphasis on making energized water as an abundant source in his farm-a quantum farming principle.
The heat of the sun that afternoon was still unbearable to take notice of other things; more so on exploring the other side of the farm where a spring is located. We failed to take photos of the spring, of some vegetables, turkeys and the chickens, and of the papaya that branched out after the onslaught of a typhoon. The farm tour however offered some eye opener – from the purpose of decaying santol fruits to the suppliers of water source called Tibig among other things.
That day was a great learning experience that I least expected; and- it was something not so easy to take for granted, as it was simply rare, and was so different.
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