ON THE COVER
A portion of Costales Nature Farms, where practically every square meter is utilized for production.
RECENTLY, the three-day “Organic Harvest Festival,” which turned out to be a harvest of fun, adventure, educational, excitement, and wellness all rolled into one was held by Costales Nature Farms.
Ronald Costales, the founder and chairman of the farm, said this is the third edition of the Organic Harvest Festival at the Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna. According to him, they decided to extend the duration of the event—which originally started as a single day event—to accommodate more visitors and organic farming enthusiasts.
Nestled along the foothills of the majestic Mount Banahaw, Costales Nature Farms have become the premier agri-tourism destination in the country. It offers different tour packages to cater to those wishing to relax and experience typical farm life, if just for a day or two. Costales said the visitors can learn the basics of integrated organic farming and enjoy the many amenities of the nature farm.
The event also coincided with the launch of the farm’s new and spacious Convention and Activity Center, which can be used for seminars, training, special functions, and other activities. Costales said the facility came about mainly as a joint venture between Costales Nature Farms and the overseas Filipino workers who have previously invested in the farm’s green houses and accommodation facilities.
Senator Cynthia A. Villar led the inauguration of the farm’s Convention and Activity Center, together with the heads of the various government line agencies and officials of different local government units.
According to Costales, the new facility will also be used to conduct seminars and workshops for those who want to learn more about sustainable organic farming and farm tourism. “We wish to inspire more people to lead a healthy and sustainable future,” he said.
Highlights of the event included the free seminars and lectures on organic farming and agriculture-related topics. Among those conducting the seminars and
lectures were Dr. Frank de la Peña, who runs an organic agriculture training institute in Panabo City; Jess Domingo, a former chief financial officer of several multinational companies who became a successful organic livestock raiser and entrepreneur; Joni and Susan Sanchez, who own and manage the Joni and Susan Agroshop in San Pablo City; and other experts in the field of organic farming.
The husband-and-wife team of Rico and Edilee Omoyon of the Milea Orchard and Bee Farm in Batangas also discussed the importance of bee farming, covering imported Italian bees as well as the native bee species. The Omoyons have developed various bee products and byproducts, which include honey, beeswax, propolis, bee pollen, honey pops, honey propolis shampoo, lip cream, lemongrass honey facial wash, propolis throat spray, and propolis cream.
Hundreds of visitors coming from different regions of the country attended the event, with many opting to stay for several days, occupying most of the lodging facilities at the Costales Nature Farm.
To satisfy the gastronomic wishes of the visitors, Costales Nature Farms invited local and foreign chefs to prepare their own versions of special organic dishes using vegetables which were grown right at the farm, like the different varieties of lettuce, cucumbers, kale, tomatoes cauliflower, broccoli, and other greens.
The chefs also prepared sumptuous dishes using one of the farm’s signature products: “Porkganic” or organic pig’s meat, which is said to be healthier. Costales Nature Farms has already embarked on the commercial production of organic pigs, and Costales said they are now processing “Porkganic” into different preparations like tocino, tapa, longganisa, sisig, and bacon.
In the very near future, the Costales Nature Farms will start producing organic buffalo milk. Costales said this will become possible after they receive at least five Murrah buffalos from the Philippine Carabao Center.
He added that they are now one of the major single producers of organic high-value vegetables and herbs which they supply to the different specialty stores and hotels in the metropolis. “Healthy living means knowing where your food comes from, and eating the right kinds of food and vegetables is the key [to] maintaining a fit lifestyle,” Costales said. Different companies engaged in the distribution of organic products and farm inputs participated in the three-day event, particularly Allied Botanical Corporation (ABC), which supplies most of the seed requirements of Costales Nature Farms.
Guests and visitors enjoyed watching the staff members and farm personnel play different indigenous games like tug-of-war or hilaang lubid, agawan ng buko, sack race, and tumbang preso.
Those who would want to take time out from the hustle and bustle of city life may find that it’s time to trek to Costales Nature Farms to enjoy the freshness of nature and experience healthy living.