Thursday, May 26, 2016

Cervantes Farm in CDO Promotes Square Foot Gardening and FAITH

Many of us express the desire to be able to grow fruits and vegetables in our own backyards, or even in windowsill pots. Yet, we are hampered by various reasons such as not having enough space and time for, or knowhow about gardening.  

this 300sqm. organic farm grows several varieties of vegetables
using square foot and vertical gardening methods
I found inspiration in Brgy. Pagatpat, Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao when I recently visited Sir Honorio Cervantes' farm, an Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Learning Site that is hailed for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The retired police officer turned organic farmer practitioner advocates urban gardening and is proof that we can really grow our own food no matter how little land we have. His farm only measures 300sqm but they are able to grow a lot of vegetables there using square foot and vertical gardening.

behind Sir Honorio are helpful charts and photos
that inspire visitors to also advocate for FAITH
Sir Honorio shared that he learned about the method of building garden boxes and structures to grow more in less space through a book by Mel Bartholomew, a retired businessman and engineer from Utah, USA. "I don't stop learning and continue to research and read about new farming methods," said Sir Honorio who added that he would usually immediately apply new learnings on his farm to see if they will work.

Sir Honorio demonstrated to us how he plants kangkong
using his square foot template (with holes for proper plant spacing) 
I was amazed to find out that they have a water tank under one of the huts and that it also serves as a fish pond for tilapia. Talk about double-purposing! I also love the big tarpaulin on one wall of the session hall, which promotes FAITH (Food Always In The Home). It perfectly complements the 67-year-old's advice to everyone, "Go organic. Let us provide food without chemicals for the family." He explained that the soil he uses, called Cervantes mix, is made up of composted cow manure, chicken dung, bamboo charcoal, and other natural ingredients.

I got to harvest fresh, organic kangkong! 
One fun activity I got to engage in was to personally "harvest" kangkong under the guidance of Sir Honorio. Commonly known as water/river spinach, these vegetables are grown there on plots of land, not on water. Following the square foot gardening method, kangkong and other vegetables are systematically planted every four days so there will always be batches ready for harvesting. 

a sumptuous boodle feast
But before the actual farm tour, we lunched on a boodle feast made up of rice, grilled pork, seaweed, fish, fresh fruits like banana and mango, and drank freshly prepared coconut juice with bits of coconut meat. It was a great way to enjoy good food with friends while learning new and inspiring things. 

this small structure produces various vegetables including kangkong,
pechay, sili, and more!
I can't wait to apply many of my learnings in our backyard, soon! Contact Cervantes Farm at 0927-4699994 to schedule a learning visit / farm tour.

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