LAST week I visited my farm in Maragusan, Davao de Oro, as locals now call what was the former Compostela Valley province. After three years of trying we have finally transitioned it into a fully organic farm.
My visit was timed for the harvest of our first commercial production of lettuce. But no we are not into large-scale production of organic lettuce yet. It’s commercial only in the sense that this small harvest was the first that we sold.
Because the fertilizers and the pest control used were all organic, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that the lettuce we harvested were all whole, bright and shiny. They showed no signs whatsoever, like the usual holes or perforations, of having been feasted on by plant pests.
His experimental batch of lettuce, the farm manager explained, displayed discouraging signs of pest infestation. So, he asked for help from the local Department of Agriculture (DA) people. The solution he was told to try was almost too simple to be believable but he tried it anyway and, would you believe, it worked.
He was simply instructed to plant radish in between rows of lettuce. It seems that pests that feast on lettuce leaves prefer radish leaves when they are available. And sure enough, wonder of wonders, when we looked at the radishes we saw worms eating away at the leaves, which is okay because radish roots (and they were big and without blemish) are what you eat or sell and not the leaves.
I felt so good pondering the significance of the phenomenon I just witnessed. (Incidentally, my first durian harvest last November since shifting to organic farming was just as big as previous harvests when we were using chemical fertilizers). I felt vindicated in my advocacy and practice of organic farming. It proved to me and my neighbors that nature’s way is the best. I might mention here, however, that we are completely surrounded by farms that are lease-contracted out to chemical-spraying big banana corporations.
Nature’s way of maintaining a balance is best for the survival of our planet and for all living creatures (plants, animals and human beings) in it. Climate change is devastating us alternately with floods and droughts yet some of us, especially the big users and producers refuse to admit the reality of climate change, a reality that is the product of our destructive exploitation by unnatural or chemical means of the earth’s resources.
We would do well to be reminded that nature does not need man to survive. Worse still nature will not hesitate to get rid of man if his destructive ways threaten the survival of our planet. We had, therefore, better learn to do things nature’s way before she finds it necessary to get rid of us to survive.