Organic farming in Laguna: Cultivating a sustainable future

LAGUNA – The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed many to start their own home vegetable gardens to relieve stress during the lockdown and have access to free food at a time of uncertainty and community restrictions.

In Biñan City, a farm encourages residents to continue their food garden projects even though restrictions have eased and the worst of the pandemic may now be over.

And more than the usual backyard gardening, they are advocating for a type of farming that is kinder to Mother Earth.

The Biñan City Organik Farm (BCOF) is home to various organic vegetables, herbs, and meats which residents sell at farm gate value in the local market.  (Photo courtesy of Carla Bauto Dena / MANILA BULLETIN)

Biñan City Organik Farm (BCOF) promotes organic farming by holding training sessions that educate residents on how to grow fruits and vegetables without using toxic chemicals. They also distribute free materials to people interested in organic farming.

"Malaking tulong po sa pag-promote ng sustainability or food security, ang aming pagbibigay ng mga kaalaman sa pagtatanim at pagkakaloob ng mga libreng punla at mga pananim kasama na po ang mga organikong pataba (Our information dissemination about farming and distribution of free seeds and seedlings, along with organic fertilizers, are a big help in promoting sustainability or food security)," BCOF farm manager Dick S. Borlaza told the Manila Bullletin.

Established by the local government unit in 2017, the farm produces organic vegetables, herbs, and meats which they sell at farm gate value in the local market. Unsold produce is given away to residents who live near the farm.

Start 'em young

BCOF has a program called Junior Farmers, designed for children who want to nurture their green thumbs at a young age.

"Dito ay tinuturuan namin ang mga bata na may edad na apat hanggang 10 taong gulang ng buhay bukid. Nagtatanim sila, nagha-harvest ng mga itlog ng manok, nagpapakain ng mga alagang hayop at malaya silang nakakapaglaro sa aming farm (Here, we teach children aged four to 10 years about farm life. They plant, they harvest chicken eggs, they feed animals, and they can freely play in our farm)," Borlaza shared.

Residents tend to the plants in the Biñan City Organik Farm (BCOF). (Photo courtesy of Carla Bauto Dena / MANILA BULLETIN)

Aside from farming skills, the program also offers kids a holistic experience.

"Natututo silang makisalamuha sa kapwa mga bata at nalilimita sila sa paghawak ng mga gadgets (They learn how to mingle with other children and it limits them from playing with their gadgets)," Borlaza said.

Laguna's first organic-certifying body

Biñan City Organik Farm is just one of the organizations in Laguna that promotes farming practices without the use of harmful chemicals.

On Jan. 9, Samahan ng Organikong Industriya ng Laguna (SOIL) was awarded an Accreditation Certificate as the first organic-certifying body in Laguna and the fourth in the country under the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS).

The awarding ceremony held in Santa Cruz was led by the Department of Agriculture Region IVA - Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist, and Gov. Ramil Hernandez.

Residents attend a training session on how to grow fruits and vegetables without using toxic chemicals at Biñan City Organik Farm (BCOF). (Photo courtesy of Carla Bauto Dena / MANILA BULLETIN)

During the same ceremony, Participatory Organic Certificates were awarded to five farms in the province: Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay; Gintong Bukid Farm and Leisure in Nagcarlan; CHEFerd's Farm in Pagsanjan; and Coco-a Vanilla Farm and Sweet Nature Farms in Santa Maria.

In a press release, the Provincial Government of Laguna says it is focused on promoting organic farming, given that it offers many benefits to Lagunenses.

"Ika nga po namin (as we say), 'We don't feed the plant. We feed the soil so the soil will feed the plant,'" Borliaza said.