Saturday, October 22, 2016

Forest Wood Garden in San Pablo City, Laguna: Championing Life, Not Just Livelihood

In the province of Laguna, Forest Wood Garden in San Pablo City is known as the best landscaper, having already won many awards in the industry. Years back when they started, Joel and Myrna Frago didn't expect that their passion for collecting plants would eventually turn into a business.

beautiful landscaping at Forest Wood Garden
Joel, a Nursing graduate, and Myrna, who has a background in architecture, registered Forest Wood Garden with the Department of Trade and Industry in 2004 and opened it to the public five years later. In 2013, the place became an Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) learning site for farmers and stakeholders who are interested to learn about organic inputs, sustainable farming, and the farm to table concept.

Joel and Myrna showing us one of their magazine features
According to the husband and wife tandem, they have spent the past 10 years doing natural farming and applying practical agriculture practices. Both believe farmers play a big role in food production and security and that students taking up agriculture can also do much for nation building. "We are a living proof that there's money in farming," they said.

the famous pansit kalabuko
With the desire to be a channel of blessings to fellow San Pablo residents, the Fragos encourage students to become agri-preneurs in addition to helping the city draw tourists who want to discover the delicious food found there. One of the bestselling dishes uniquely available at Forest Wood is their Pansit Kalabuko made with strips of kalabasa (squash), buko (coconut), mushroom, and other healthy ingredients. Not surprisingly, this particular food item has already been featured numerous times in various TV shows and magazines thus the flow of visitors from near and far interested to sample it.

trivia: plantsado came from plantsa, the Filipino word for clothes iron 
Another must-try is the plantsado, a snack made from root crop wrapped in banana leaves then literally flattened using old-fashioned irons heated with charcoals. We likewise loved their ube, served as bite-sized balls, that seem to melt in the mouth.  

a farm staff watering crops using rainwater
inside a biodegradable greenhouse
After eating, we toured the place and saw for ourselves how Forest Wood Garden further advocates for green living. They store rainwater and use it to water the plants, and build greenhouses made of the biodegradable bamboo instead of hollow blocks. "We also propagate and utilize crops that are not so well-known," shared Joel.

organic coconut hut in the middle of a bamboo forest
He then led us to their bamboo forest where various bamboo species can be found. Joel said bamboo is rich in nitrogen, which is needed to keep the soil healthy and also helps in countering the ill effects of climate change. In one area, we found an organic hut made of palapa (the hard bottom part of coconut leaves) with two shy girls peeking from the window.

don't be deceived, this adorable-looking wild boar
has already fathered many piglets!
Walking further onto the expansive land, we had a very interesting encounter with a wild boar named Judge who, amazingly, replies to Joel's voice with enthusiastic grunts! This cute pig even laid down on the ground when some of us approached, seeming to invite some belly rubs, which he got from Karl. Later, Judge trotted in front of Joel like a pet dog leading his owner who's holding a leash. Myrna told me that the two usually get a lot attention when they do that around Sampalok Lake. Amazing!

at Forest Wood, pig pens can be transferred anywhere
because the pigs help fertilize the land one area at a time
to get the soil ready for planting   
During the tour, we further learned other things the Fragos do to practice natural resource management. This refers to how natural resources like soil, water, plants, and animals are used in relation to improving the quality of life for the present and future generations. Farmers like them acknowledge that people and their livelihoods are dependent on the natural resources around them and that it is their job as stewards of the land to maintain its health and productivity.  

the Fragos believe that when you take good care of the land,
it will also take care of you
If you want to feel inspired about your role in protecting the environment, as well as have a taste of delicious naturally-grown food, pay Forest Wood Garden a visit, soon. Like its owners, you just might feel more strongly about living a productive life instead of simply pursuing a livelihood.

No comments: