Go Eco Ilocos!

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Watch out for the official announcement of the first eco-living bazaar in Ilocos Norte. It will be in Laoag… a taste of rural life in the city. Let’s go organic and natural.

via BlauEarth’s Blog

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Ilocano organic farmer Nestor Acosta’s green message

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Old-style farming is considered to be modern again. The growing environmental concern in relation to unnatural farming practices such as genetic modification and the use of artificial chemicals has led many farmers worldwide to revert to quaint agricultural practices.

54-year old Nestor Acosta, a native of the town of Bacarra and a farmer for 34 years now, has gone back to the basics in regard to his farming methods. The year 2000 was a turning point in his life as a farmer. The words of a certain public servant — “Agpaili koma ti saba, ngem tattan isumetten itti agpaaway. Awan kadin itti daga itti away? (Bananas should be sent to the city, but now they are sent to the countryside. Are there no more lands in the countryside?)” — were like thunder to him. He took the public servant’s words as a challenge. He worked up a plan, leased additional pieces of land, and went back to natural farming techniques.

He uses only chicken manure fertilizer in his 10-hectare veritable organic vegetable and fruit farm. Through integrated farming, he is able to yield more high quality, better tasting gourd, bittermelon, papaya and long green beans which he and his family sell at their vegetable stall in the Bacarra public market. To date, he has 230 cinta and red lady papaya trees. His younger guapple trees are nearing maturity.

Manong Nestor has earned several awards for his outstanding efforts in sustainable agriculture. Four years in a row, from 1990-1993, he was awarded an Outstanding Farmer in Region I. He is also a Gawad Saka awardee for converting a wasteland into a year-round green integrated farm. In 2008, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Foresty, and Natural Resources Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology (PCARRD-DOST) sent him to Korea for a study-visit. “I learned much from that visit. It was an exchange of organic farming ideas between the Philippines, which I represented, and Korea,” he said.

I asked him what are the usual problems he encounters and he said, “So far, none.” He humbly adds, “It is good business for the family.”

Young red lady papaya fruits

Quality sitaw or long green beans

Balayang banana tree. Balayang banana heart is excellent for Filipino kare-kare dish.

Gourd (also known as patola or kabatiti) and ampalaya leaves are Ilocano favorites

“The whole town of Bacarra, as well as the entire nation, should adopt organic farming practices for better health and longer life,” Manong Nestor said when I asked him what he wanted to tell his fellow Ilocano farmers.

Nestor Acosta, Brgy. 40 Buyon, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Philippines 63-926-6157764
Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Discovering “The King of Fruits”

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The simpliest way to define TOURISM is traveling for pleasure. It can be broken down into several classifications like ecotourism, adventure tourism, sports tourism, voluntourism, shopping tourism, medical tourism, agritourism, rural tourism, gastronomic tourism, and so much more. One of the emerging global travel trends today is rural tourism which is interrelated with agri-tourism. More and more people, including children, want to find out where their food comes from. Farms would be the major place of interest for this kind of tourists. Getting to breathe clean unpolluted air while educating oneself is the pleasure that agritourism offers.

The farms that target agritourists, also known as agrotourists, emphasize the value of utilizing organic methods of growth — natural environment-friendly methods, like composting, instead of relying heavily on toxic pesticides and fertilizers.

REFMAD Farmsrefmad farms, the first dragon fruit farm in the Ilocos Region, is attracting not just agritourists, but tourists from all walks of life. It is because this exotic “king of fruits” is known to be loaded with beneficial nutrients which are readily metabolized in the body. It is high in Vitamin C, dietary fiber and antioxidant properties. It is  believed to help control glucose blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes and a form of type 1 diabetes, prevent colon cancer, and is proven to aid digestion.

Mrs. Edita Aguinaldo Dacuycuy, the vibrant and resourceful owner of the farm, discovered dragon fruit by accident. Someone gifted Edita with dragon fruit she brought home from a trip abroad.  Because of the acclaimed nutritional  benefits of this rare exotic fruit, her generous friend wanted Edita’s daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to try out this fruit believed to have medicinal properties. This led Edita to research for more information on the net. Later on, she noticed the  improvement on her daughter’s constipation problem which accompanies her cerebral palsy condition. This paved the way for the development of the refmad farms.

A new age farmer, Mrs. Edita Dacuycuy

A new age farmer, Mrs. Edita Dacuycuy

Today, the 2 and a half-year-old 5-hectare farm is one of the latest attractions of the province of Ilocos Norte. It is a welcome addition to the flourishing ecotourism and agritourism industry in the province. According to Edita, they are in the process of expansion. The challenge stems from the clamor of the local market and the influx of orders from several Binondo and Makati  fruit suppliers. She says, “We are challenged… we want the local market to have a continuous supply, and as of now, we are unable to provide  enough for the Ilocos demand.”

“Right now, our workforce is 100 percent from the community.” she says with pride. The farm is situated in Paayas, Burgos.  “My four children also help. I’m a hands-on manager,” she adds. She also talks about the other things she can do with the fruit.  “The skin pulps can be made as jam and cleansing drink, while the unopened flower buds can be added to dishes like chopsuey, lumpia shanghai and marrungay nga dinengdeng.” She also hints at  her company’s on-going product research and development.

The photoluminescent dragon fruit flower is also known as the "Queen of the Night", while the dragon fruit, or pitaya, is the "King of fruits"

The highlight of our visit to the refmad farms is the whole dragon fruit gastronomic experience. The red flesh has a texture similar to that of  kiwi fruit. It isn’t too sweet nor bland. It is refreshing like watermelon and strawberries. We’re definitely going back for more of this power-packed fruit. DETOXify!

Photography by Blauearth
Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
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