Monday, July 22, 2013

The Organic Farm Tour Series, Part 1: A Visit to Lily of the Valley in La Trinidad, Benguet

I would bet that we all know someone who is suffering from a medical condition right now. I, for one, have friends and relatives who have various illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and even cancer. 

Organically grown vegetables are healthier and
more resistant to pests 
Isn't it alarming that more and more people seem to get sick these days? According to researches I've read over the years, one culprit originates from the food we eat. And despite the vast information online about healthy food, many of us still don't know what's exactly in the stuff we eat and how they are produced before they get sold in supermarkets or grocery stores.

Last year, I got to visit the Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna and had my eyes opened to the many benefits of organic agriculture not only for the farmers but, more so, for consumers like me. Because of the things I experienced there, I became more wary of fruits and vegetables grown using pesticides that could harm my family. 

Just this past weekend, thanks to the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) of the Department of Agriculture (DA), I joined a group of bloggers on an unforgettable journey up north towards wellness. I didn't realize that there was more to be learned about organic farming and I was very glad to be given the opportunity to expand my knowledge.  

Our first stop was Lily of the Valley (LOV), a farm owned by Mr. Jefferson and Mrs. Eliza Laruan. We were toured around the nursery and greenhouses and I was very impressed at how healthy the vegetables are, which are grown without the use of synthetically compounded fertilizer and pesticides. 

Mr. Laruan, a fourth generation farmer, told us that he started thinking about shifting from conventional to an alternative way of farming after he was badly affected by plant spray in 1977. He lost consciousness for a day and a half when his pores got clogged with the pesticide's mist. 

From 1981-1998, he chose to plant sayote but, due to the heavy sacks of vegetables he regularly carried, he had to undergo an hernia operation. By 2005, Mr. Laruan decided to go into organic farming full time. It took him 8 months of trial and error but he eventually got things right. For the past 7 years, he has been harvesting 50 kilos worth of crops every week compared to conventional farming which takes months before produce mature. He is grateful for having greenhouses that enable him to plant even during the rainy seasons.

Mr. and Mrs. Laruan grow fruits, leafy vegetables, and legumes in 6000sqm of the total two-hectare land area. They practice root crop rotation and multi-cropping and employ six full time workers. 

I was delighted to find out that the farm offers lodging amenities to guests who would like to get away from city life for a while. Their Homestay and Coffee Shop is a beautiful place where visitors could have a meal and stay for a night or two. They have rooms for rent and common areas where friends can stay up late and chat the night away. One can have the option to build a bonfire outside or stay cozy beside the fireplace inside. Out on the balcony, one can even pick mulberry fruits directly from a tree!

As I was wondering how people could go there if they have no private vehicle, Mrs. Laruan said they can bring guests to and from the bus station in Baguio City. Someday, when I feel the need to unwind and find a serene place to stay in without the trappings of modernity, I would love to come back to Lily of the Valley and simply enjoy healthy food and fresh air in a soothing environment. 

Know more about Lily of the Valley Organic Farms. Visit, email and, or contact 0949-3997126. 

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