A farm-to-table concept works best for this organic farming advocate

Published September 29, 2019, 12:00 AM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Sahlie Lacson

Nowadays, there are more and more organizations, companies, and social enterprises willing to do their part in working for what needs to be achieved in terms of sustainability in food production by turning to natural farming.

“We do not use pesticides, or any harmful chemicals to the soil, plants, beneficial insects, and to us, the consumers,”
defines Carlomagno Aguilar, who manages Organic Growth, when asked about the term “organic.”

Carlomagno Aguilar (Manila Bulletin)
Carlomagno Aguilar (Manila Bulletin)

Organic Growth is a social enterprise (SE), which from the name itself, means that the food produced through the crops they grow is farmed naturally.

Though a Bachelor of Arts major in Asian Studies graduate from a reputable school who was supposed to follow a career path in Foreign Affairs, Aguilar instead pursued his passion for farming at the age of 25.

“I started farming when I was 25 years old. I was just growing tomatoes and hot peppers back then, which I delivered
to a Kapampangan restaurant. Sometimes, I directly sell them in the public market,” shared Aguilar. “I’ve been farming for several years already but I never tried to understand where my produce goes.”

However, when Aguilar started working with Chef Kenneth Cacho, president of International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management (ISCAHM) Pampanga, he started to understand the gap between farmers and chefs; that there is a need to produce crops right at the door front of every kitchen in order to preserve their flavor and freshness, besides being sustainable.

But why choose naturally grown produce? First, it is sustainable. Second, it can be cheaper. And third, it is safe and clean. “Everyone wants to live longer and healthier, and one way of doing it is eating clean and safefood,” Aguilar further said.

THE FARM-TO-TABLE CONCEPT

The name Organic Growth came from the idea of growing naturally farmed food “in-house” by developing and managing farms or gardens so they would not need to buy ingredients from the market; they could harvest them by themselves fresh – just right outside of their kitchen. This could also lead to increased profit because it would lessen the cost of food.

Aguilar considers himself “the Chef’s Farmer” since they grow almost all of the chef’s needs for their kitchen. Organic Growth also addresses the chef’s need of ensuring the quality and freshness of fruits and vegetables by bringing the source closer to them and whenever they need them.

“The vision of Organic Growth is to make every region of our country become self-reliant with their food through farm-to-table. This concept, if applied to each of our country’s region, will make food sustainable. Each regionAguilarwon’t have to rely on distant provinces’ produce, rather, (they) will be producing their own,” Aguilar enthused.

HOW THE PROCESS WORKS

Organic Growth partners with hotels, resorts, restaurants, and culinary schools that have vacant or idle lands where fruits and vegetables can be grown.

They identify the in-demand crops which contribute to almost 80% of their food cost, analyze the data, and find ways on how to bring these costs down.

Their clients will then hire the farmers, usually five per hectare. They will be trained and managed by Organic Growth in growing the priority crops that will be supplied to their clients.

Clients are manned by Organic Growth associate consultants who are also trained by Agriculture graduates.

As the owner, Aguilar supervises the associate consultants by giving them targets to produce, which they will cascade to the farmers they handle. He also regularly visits the farms to make sure

 
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