A Day in the Farm

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

WHEN one talks of going to the farm, we imagine the cows and the carabaos, chickens and ducks, the guavas and the mansanitas to climb, and the vast, wild meadows to run, prance and frolic upon.

So when we decide to spend such a day in a farm it would spell an early morning start; in our case our assembly time was slated at seven. Then, with our three- vehicle convoy, we took the drive going north of Bacolod, towards Victorias City. Our goal: to visit the Penalosa Farms.

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Right at the back of a mall in the heart of the city lies the first stop of our visit. In the enclosed 3,000 square meters near the river is the Penalosa Farms, an integrated stead of land where veggies, herbs, and other fruit-bearing trees are grown organically and where pro-biotic swine, chicken, ducks and fishes are raised.

We got a very warm welcome from its owner Mr. Mon Penalosa, who ushered us in to the native gazebo settled in the middle of the tilapia pond. There, 16 of us from Riverside Medical Center Multi-Purpose Cooperative,12 visitors from the Agricultural Training Institute of the CARAGA Region, and 2 officers from the Provincial Agriculture Office got a very informative lecture from Mr. Penalosa on his own micro-model of an integrated, natural agricultural farming business.

Living and practicing his beliefs, Mr. Penalosa shared with us his advocacy, which is: no Filipino will go hungry in his own native land; there is no unproductive soil, only unproductive farmer; there is money in the countryside; and the farmer who doesn't know how to pray is not a good farmer. On deeper thought, such convictions are just but real and true to a person who is certain and proud of his lineage, who is hardworking and loves to till the soil, who loves the farms, and who trusts his God.

After we had much of a fill for our morning session, were divided into four groups who were each assigned a task: know more about the feeds, the pigs, the plants, and the integration of all the elements in the farm. Our group was tasked to know at least 30 plant - stuff. We met the Manong Salvador and Manang Rosita Itchon, one couple who selflessly shared with our team their knowledge on plant farming, We bumped into "Ms. Mint" for cold, fever and flu,"Mr. Ginseng" whose roots are good for vitality," Ms. Papaya" whose leaves are noted to alleviate " tina flava" or" alap-ap." We also chanced upon the "Herb Sisters" -- Parsley, Dill, and Pandan which are for food preparation. And lurking on one side near the pond, we bumped on "Mr. Kasla" for sprains and "Mr. Tiger Plant" for insect or snake bites. And lined up in a row, we shook hands as we touched "Ms. Camilla" herb which is good for blood circulation ,"Madam Taheebo Tea," good for fat reduction, "Ms. Gotocolla "for memory enhancement , "Mr. Tall Lemon Grasses" or tanglad leaves can be turned into cool juice for incontinence or urinary tract infection.

After our sumptuous lunch of green, crispy salad (super fresh na lettuce, gid 'ya!), sinigang na baboy (stewed beef) , manok and tilapia na sinugba (broiled chicken and St. Peter fish), another bout of gresh green mango -tomato salad with ginamos dip, and ripe papaya for dessert, we got the second round of our lecture on crop specific compost, stage specific foliars, pro-biotic based bio control and zero waste management, basal fertilizers, bio -control and the pro-biotic series. We got answers why we did not smell the wastes of the 300 or more pigs around us, much as we learned of the languages of the soil, the plants and the animals.

After a short heavy bout of rain, our group proceeded to Hacienda Remedios in Manapla to have a better glimpse of the bigger version of the Penalosa farm-fields of pepper, cabbage, eggplants, legumes, papaya, banana, spinach, and other multi-crops. We saw also a bigger coop of chickens and bigger pen of pigs.

After encouraging all of us to share his advocacy and to develop what is indigenous in our own places, Mr. Penalosa admonished us to start developing an oasis of productivity of food, either in our own backyards, or small pots, or black bags. Lastly, Sir Mon persuaded us to start with something doable, sustainable, and applicable all with great love and passion.

Our day in the Penalosa Farms is really something we can call a day. Much as we went home late in the afternoon already, our trip to the farm was a time of learning more for the betterment of our life and Mother Earth, a moment of reflecting of our roles and responsibilities , and a point to taking an active hand on what we could start with our own. We did not only go home with eyes and minds and stomachs contented, but we had a spirits refreshed , our outlook in life, touched , and our convictions challenged.

To Mr. Mon Penalosa, congratulations. You have made so many good ways with the gifts of Mother Earth. May you continue to do the good work for God's vineyard. For inquiries on Penalosa Farms, please contact Suzy Penalosa at telefax (034-399284, or visit them at Monchito's Meat Shop and Green Grocer at the Producer's Market at 888 Chinatown Square, Bacolod City at telephone Number 034-4761870 or its branch at Doors No 4 & 5 Hi Strip Alley Circumferential Road (in front of the new Bacolod City Hall).

Day farm

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