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Friday, October 12, 2012

Treasure Find 33: Going OA is a lot OK!


Yes, you read it right.  Going OA is a lot OK!  But before you get confused, it's a different OA I'm referring to.  It's not over acting but Organic Farming or Organic Agriculture!

Why did I say that?  Well for someone who is in constant search and struggle for healthy eating and hunt for our country's rarest treasures, OA is something that really opened my eyes.

The treasure was found in Costales Nature Farm at Brgy. Gagalot in Majayjay, Laguna.  It's about two to three hours drive away from Manila.

As soon as I entered the compound of Costales Nature Farm, the calming view of green leaves and the relaxing scent of fresh air already welcomed me.  And then I was led to the main dining hall where lunch was served.  And while eating, Costales Nature Farm staff shared that all the food served were organic.

So what do they mean by Organic?  Well,  they said that organic means simply natural -- no chemicals, no insecticides, no pesticides.  So it's a farming method that uses a variety of natural yet scientific techniques to come up with quality and healthy produce.  So when we eat organic stuff, we definitely eat healthy food.  And experts say that such healthy eating lifestyle can prevent diseases, even cancer.

So why are we talking about Organic in this Treasure Find?  Well, the place I went to is a lead proponent of OA or Organic Agriculture.  In fact, Costales Nature Farm is the first agro-tourism destination in the Philippines accredited by the Department of Tourism.  Well, I bet agro-tourism is a new term for us as most of us are most likely just aware of our country's eco-tourism destinations.   Agro-tourism is a form of tourism that highlights the agricultural attractions and experience of a place.  It conducts ecological and balanced farming techniques that promote sustainable agriculture, healthy lifestyle and environment biodiversity through integrated natural farming.  For Costales Nature Farm, guests are able to experience real "Farmville" adventure as they do and learn actual agricultural activities themselves, experience beauty of nature in its purest form, eat sumptuous yet healthy organic meals, feed the animals with fresh farm produce, pick and pay organic vegetables, catch and pay organically grown tilapia, learn OA from agro-specialist and enjoy reinvigorating shower of beneficial negative ions from Majayjay Falls!

But how do Costales Nature Farm maintain agricultural sustainability?  Costales Nature Farm owner Mr. Ronald Costales shared that it starts with organically raising various livestock such as free-range chickens, smiley pigs and rabbits.  The free range chickens  are grass / vegetable fed, not given anti-biotic / vaccines, and growth hormones, and are fed not with commercial feeds but with fermented organic feeds.  Smiley pigs have no anti-biotics, growth hormones and mortality.  They don't take a bath but they don't have foul odor, they are fed with fermented EM organic feeds and EM is mixed with their drinking water as probiotic.  Aside from keeping the rabbits as pet, their meat has the highest protein content but the lowest cholesterol level.  Its manure on the other hand has the highest nitrogen content!

Ronald Costales of Costales Nature Farm

Their manures are gathered to become the best fertilizer by feeding them into African Night Crawler (ANC) worms!  The worms' manure called "vermicast" and often times called "black gold" is the primary fertilizer for the crops.  By brewing these black gold together with the concoctions of beneficial and effective micro organisms, the soil is enriched and in turn feed the plants of all the nutrients it needs.  Excess vegetable harvest and farm rejects are fed back to livestock hence completing the cycle and achieving zero-waste farming.

Some of their biggest customers are Makati Shangri-La, Italliani's and SM Supermarket!

Because of the process and labor involved, organic produce are more expensive than the regular ones.  But to address that concern, the Department of Agriculture together with its private partners like Costales Nature Farm and SOAP (Spread Organic Agriculture in the Philippines) promotes OA to create the need and the market and hence convince more people to invest in organic farming, and eventually bring down the cost of quality produce.

It's a long shot but why not give it a try right?  With health, and environment, at stake, going OA is a lot OK!  And I think it's inevitable that we invest on our health and on our planet!

OA.  Advanced yet basic.  Modern yet rural.  Science based yet easy to understand.  Good for health and good for Earth.  And that's foydi's 33rd Treasure Find! :)

(Watch out for foydi's other Treasure Finds in his visit in Costales Nature Farm!)

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